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Maximize your car's fuel efficiency
Improve your mileage by up to 15%
In the future, issues like mileage and fuel sources will be afterthoughts for car designers, and everyone will remember the days of cars that get 50 miles per gallon as the Dark Age of personal transportation. And while owning a car that gets 100 miles per gallon is may seem like pure science fiction (and, for most drivers, the stuff of fantasy), there are lots of things that you can start doing today that can help improve your gas mileage substantially – by as much as 15% for some cars. Some tips are just a question of common sense (don't gun it off the stop line, Speed Demon), but all have the power to get you more bang for your buck. Here's how:
On the Road Again
- Take a deep breath.
- This is probably the quickest, easiest change you can make right now and see a noticeable difference in your mileage. Just stop driving aggressively. Studies have shown that you can get up to 5% better mileage by just being a little kinder behind the wheel. Don't fly off the stop line and do anticipate stops better. Relax. Being the first through the intersection doesn't make you the coolest; it just wastes your gas. Plus, being a careful driver has the added benefit of reducing your auto insurance premium. And who doesn't like that?
- Switch it off.
- Stuck in stop-and-go traffic? Traffic jams a part of your daily commute? Well, they are for a lot of people. Contrary to what you might think, leaving your engine idling while waiting in heavy traffic doesn't mean you're getting great mileage (the RPMs may be low, but you're not going anywhere, right?). In fact, in means you're getting ZERO miles per gallon, which is pretty crummy however you look at it. Switch it off if you're going to be waiting in traffic for any length of time.
- Plan better.
- I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time on the weekend running errands, and the miles add up pretty quickly. Instead of driving from destination to destination willy-nilly, figure out an itinerary that makes the most sense for your fuel economy. Something else to consider is that a few quick trips starting while the engine is cold uses as much as twice the fuel as driving the same distance with a warm engine.
- Streamline that sucker.
- Yes, cars are designed to allow them to haul stuff, both inside and out. But that doesn't mean you should if you can help it. Roof racks may look cool, but they're not exactly helpful when it comes to maximizing your aerodynamics, and therefore, fuel efficiency. Likewise, hauling around a few dozen bowling balls won't exactly help your cause, either.
Service with a Smile
- Tune it up.
- Studies have shown that an engine that hasn't received its routine maintenance can decrease its efficiency by 4%-10%. That's huge. And it can be even huger for older models. This especially includes air filters, which, if clogged, can decrease your car's fuel economy by up to 10%!
- Fill 'er up.
- Most of the time, using a high-octane fuel choice at the pump is a total waste of money. Unless your manufacturer recommends something higher, regular will do just fine.
- Keep 'em filled up and lined up.
- Tires are the only thing separating you from the road. And keeping them in good condition, which means properly inflated and aligned, translates directly into better gas mileage. A pretty quick change, but one that can increase your fuel economy by up to 3%.
- Keep it lubed up.
- Pick an oil that contains additives to reduce friction, which can improve fuel economy. Oh, and make sure you get your oil changed regularly. Gunky, dirty oil isn't helpful when it comes to making the most of your fill-ups.
Of course, in the future, none of this will be an issue, right? We'll be able to fly off stop lines, haul stuff, and run errands from here to eternity on a splash of water and an ear of corn. Until then, though, follow these steps and you'll be that much closer to the future – and making science fiction just plain science.
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