No matter what kind of car you drive, you can still get the most miles from every tank of gas with some simple changes to your driving habits and better car maintenance.
MPG—Miles Per Gallon—is exactly what it sounds like, a measure of how many miles your car travels on a single gallon of gas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives every car an MPG rating so consumers have an impartial idea of fuel economy. To set each MPG rating, the EPA performs a series of tests and calculations that determine the number on the window sticker of a new car.
You may have noticed that MPG numbers have decreased recently. That's because mileage tests created during the '60s and '70s were revamped in an effort to more accurately reflect today's road conditions and driving habits. As a result, the EPA adjusted its MPG statements beginning with 2008 model cars. The figures are more accurate now, but most MPG ratings have actually dropped with the new tests
Car manufacturers and the EPA aren't the only determinants of MPG. Surprisingly, how you drive plays a big part in your car's real MPG.
The single most helpful thing you can do as a driver is to:
- Drive the speed limit on the highway. Driving over 60 miles per hour can cut your fuel economy by as much as 33 percent. In fact, each 5 mph increment over 60 is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon of gas. In addition to better mileage, maintaining the speed limit means you're driving more safely. Pro tip: Use cruise control on the highway to help control your speed.
You can also:
- Cut extra weight from your trunk and backseat. If you're hauling around heavy, unnecessary weight, you're making your engine work harder and that lowers gas mileage by as much as 2 percent for every 100 pounds.
- Avoid congested times and areas, and drive sensibly. Planning your route and the time of day you travel can help you save gas and money. So can getting rid of a "lead foot." All those quick starts from a green light just to slam on the brakes at the next red light don't make a lot of sense—for your car's engine or fuel economy.
When you've done all you can to coax out every last mile between fill-ups, the rest is in the hands of your mechanic. Visit a shop or mechanic you trust with these tips in mind.
- A precisely tuned engine can get you back as much as 4% in fuel economy. If it's been awhile since your last engine tune-up, or if you recently failed your emissions test, make an appointment with your mechanic.
- Use the correct grade of motor oil for an MPG bump. Consult your owner's manual to make sure you're using the recommended motor oil. Your engine will thank you, and your gas mileage may improve 1-2 percent. In addition, an "Energy Conserving" oil helps via friction-reducing additives—just look for those words on the bottle.
- Properly inflate your tires to roll a higher MPG number. An underinflated tire can decrease your gas mileage by as much as 3%, and correct inflation actually helps prevent blowouts. It's also something you can manage yourself. Just check the recommended tire inflation for your car—usually found on a sticker inside the driver's door or gas tank door. Check out our Preventing Flat Tires article for tips on keeping your car on the road and off the jack.
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Get a no-obligation quote, talk to your agent or call us at 1-800-ALLSTATE (255-7828) to see how we can help you save on auto insurance.
Published: June 2011