You can generate big increases in your MPG with small changes in driving behavior.
You don’t have to be a hypermiler or green driving fanatic to improve your fuel economy. A little bit of green driving gear and some simple changes in routine can increase your gas mileage (and put more money in your pocket and reduce your emissions). We’ve put together five of our favorite fuel efficiency driving tips to start you on the path to increased MPG.
1. Get aero.
Don’t let the name confuse you. GasPods are an aftermarket aerodynamic enhancement made by AeroHance that can reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. (They are not extra fuel tanks or pods for your vehicle) But the increased fuel efficiency associated with GasPods is vehicle-specific: It depends on the shape of the car, type of spoiler (if any) and roof rack (if any). In our road tests, the median increase in fuel economy was 19% in mostly highway driving conditions.
We recommend that drivers of certain vehicles purchase GasPods:
• Toyota Prius (2004-2015) and similarly-shaped cars, such as the Honda Insight, Honda Civic Hatchback (2016 – present), and the Acura ZDX; and
• Sedans, such as VW Jetta, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Sonata, and older Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu models (which have very similar profiles).
Bonus Tip: Put your windows up when you are on the highway to reduce drag.
2. When you replace your tires, go with low-rolling resistance.
Low-rolling resistance tires (LRRTs) are designed to reduce friction and increase fuel economy. They are often standard on hybrids, but are rarely considered for replacement tires on other types of cars, even though they would meet the needs of many drivers. LRRTs can increase fuel economy by 1-2 MPG. If you commute 10,000 miles/year, LRRTs could save you 23-46 gallons of gas and roughly $70-$140 each year. So when you need to replace your tires, you should look at lower rolling resistance options that match your driving style and conditions. You’ll increase your MPG, save money, and reduce your emissions.
3. Know before you go – check traffic before you drive.
Checking traffic before you leave can save you time, gas, and money (and a lot of frustration). If you get stuck in only 5 minutes of otherwise avoidable traffic each weekday (because you picked the wrong route or left at the wrong time, for example), this could add up to 21.7 hours of idling each year, translating into 4.3-8.6 gallons of fuel consumption and $13-$26 worth of gas. If you run your AC while grinding it out, these numbers go up to approximately 6.5-13 gallons and $19.50-$39. So be sure to check traffic on your favorite App before your next drive, and remember to be cool, not ice cold, in the car.
4. Start your engine last.
We have all done this – we get into the car, start the engine, fiddle with our music, connect to Bluetooth, grab something from the back seat, and fiddle with the mirror. Before you know it, you have been idling for quite some time. How much time? We spent an afternoon at a big box store tracking the amount of time people idled before getting a move on. We found that the average person idled for 37.6 seconds before leaving their spot. If this happens 4 times/day, that’s well over 2 minutes of idling each day and over 12 hours of idling (0 MPG) each year. This amount of idling would burn 2.5-5 gallons of gasoline (or more if you use your AC). Unnecessarily sitting in traffic and idling your car would reduce your MPG by 2% or more over the course of a year.
Bonus Tip: If your car has auto stop-start, you should use it.
5. If you’re not cruising, you’re losing.
The EPA estimates that using cruise control increases MPG so much that it saves drivers $.42/gallon. This is because the cruise control eliminates the constant accelerations (corrections) that a driver must make to maintain a roughly consistent speed, which subtly erode fuel efficiency. For example, driving 1000 miles in cruise control conditions (light traffic on highway) each year at 25 MPG without cruise control requires 40 gallons of gas (roughly $120). Using cruise control under these conditions would increase your fuel economy to 29 MPG, reducing your fuel consumption by 5.6 gallons and saving you $16.80 on gas. So the next time you hit the open road, do yourself a favor and hit the cruise control button.
If you would like more tips like these, visit our Smarter Driving Tips Page and download our curated list of Tips for Maximizing your Fuel Efficiency.