12 Ways to Get Better Gas Mileage

Whether you’re driving 50 or 500 miles, getting the most for your mileage (and money!) is a top priority.

Car Maintenance

  1. Pump it up.
    • According to the AAA, under-inflated tires are the number one cause of low gas mileage. Checking your tire pressure once a month could improve your fuel economy 2 to 3 miles to the gallon, according to Lauren Fix, the Car Coach.
  2. Let it breathe.
    • Lauren Fix also recommends changing your air filter every six months. “If you don’t know how to do it ask a parts store – they’ll replace it for you,” she said. “That will improve your fuel economy 3 to 4 miles to the gallon.”
  3. Lighten your load.
    • Pull winter items (extra clothing, scrapers, snow chains) from the trunk and store them in your garage. Make sure to leave your Car Emergency Kit!
  4. Practice regular car maintenance.
    • Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to FuelEconomy.gov.
  5. Write it down.
    • Angie’s List recommends keeping a detailed log of any problems and car conditions at the time of the problem (e.g. weather, speed, time of day). This could help the mechanic diagnose the problem.

Driving Tips

  1. Plan your route.
    Getting lost uses extra gas! AAA’s online Triptik planner is available to everyone – not just members.

    • Use a GPS to avoid getting lost and going out of your way, thus using more fuel, says Carol White of RoadTripDream.com.
  2. Less is best.
    Take a smaller or more fuel-efficient car when you can.
  3. Slow down.
    Research shows that speeding uses more gas. For most vehicles, gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph, according to FuelEconomy.Gov. Use cruise control to maintain a constant speed and save gas.
  4. Don’t idle.
    Turn off your car – idling gets zero miles to the gallon.
  5. Fill ’er up.
    AAA suggests motorists maintain at least a quarter tank of fuel at all times.
  6. Monitor your mileage.
    Keep track of your mileage – store a small notebook and pen in your glove compartment. If you notice an extreme decrease in mileage, that might indicate that something isn’t working right.
  7. Travel light.
    “Take all the miscellaneous ‘stuff’ out of the car – winter chains, extra boxes, last week’s lunch — anything you don’t need – the extra weight burns more gas,” says White. Going on a longer trip? Don’t pack everything you own. “Take only the right amount of clothes – mix and match outfits. Use duffel bags rather than heavy suitcases (they squish into the trunk better too),” White says.

WHN Reader TIP – Pack It In: “Pack the car with everything inside – don’t put bikes and baggage on the roof. On a high-mileage car—one that would normally get more than 30 mpg, these racks and boxes can cut gas mileage by 10 to 20 percent. Another mistake people make with bike racks and luggage racks is leaving them on when they are not using them. A Civic with an empty bike rack on it might get 5 mpg less than if the bike rack was in the garage.” Neil G., Philadelphia, PA