How to Get Better Gas Mileage No Matter What You Drive
Posted by: Lydia on 17/08/2017
The conversation surrounding fuel economy is one of the longest in car history. As soon as the first car rolled off the assembly line, car fans have been debating how to optimise performance.
This is something we in Australia have long had a particular interest in, as our vehicles were historically built and customised to deal with the hot summers and long road trips we take.
Today, technology has made our cars faster and easier to drive than ever before, but the old debate surrounding gas mileage remains. With the average Australian driving over 13,000 kilometres a year, it's also not going away anytime soon. With this in mind, here’s our list of 7 ways to get better gas mileage - no matter what you drive.
1. Go easy on the pedals
Everybody knows that one driver in the neighbourhood who likes to be a bit flashy. You know the one: they like to rev their engine hard on the way to work in the morning, rev hard when parking at night - and maybe even rev hard on Sunday morning just to ensure everything is nice and loud.
It may seem like a harmless (if annoying) habit, but this practice can really cost you in terms of fuel efficiency.
By constantly pushing your engine beyond what it requires, you can end up using extra gas.
This is fine if there is a real need now and then to turn up the power, but it adds up at the fuel pump if you’re constantly racing your car off at every light. Avoid using excess gas by accelerating slowly and driving at a steady, constant pace whenever possible.
2. Switch from power to economy mode
It might seem obvious as this is a quick and easy solution, but it’s one that many drivers may overlook. Most cars have a button that switches fuel output from its regular mode to a high-end output. Too often, this button stays on and gathers dust while the stereo and GPS get more of a workout. Flicking the switch can ultimately save you thousands of dollars overall, though.
It should be noted that the power mode in your car does have a useful purpose. If you’re driving on a cross-country trip, towing a trailer, or climbing a steep hill, power mode can be great. When doing a quick trip to the shops, though, you can keep the car in regular mode. That way your gas tank will stay fuller longer.
3. Plan your routes when possible
Although your car’s power mode is useful for driving up a big hill, big hills can be a problem for your fuel efficiency. That’s why it's ideal to plan your routes to avoid them if possible if you’re looking to save money on gas.
To be clear, nobody is suggesting you need to be avoiding every steep incline at all costs.
If your daily drive offers a choice between the quick and direct or long and scenic, the former will always save you more money on gas, even if there are hills involved. Many people enjoy taking the scenic route home to unwind after a tough day at work, and that is totally OK. Just keep in mind when planning ahead with a GPS that a direct route will always save you the most gas overall.
4. Get the junk out of your car
We all know that feeling of coming home on a Friday night after a long week of work. There might be all sorts of junk still in the back of your car, and you have no interest in getting it out right now. That is totally fine - but it’ll really add on weight if left there for next time.
The heavier your car, the more power required to move it, and this means more gas used. While manufacturers account for this - don’t go throwing the spare tyre out of your car as you may one day need it - avoid letting gym bags, golf clubs, and other goods pile up in the boot.
5. Turn off accessories not in use
Do you just turn the radio down or switch it off? Are you still charging your phone’s battery or has it filled up? Is that low humming sound actually the air conditioner that you’ve left switched on since 2009? All this power usage can really add up over time.
While often this use of power isn’t directly linked to gas mileage - instead placing a strain on your battery - your car’s output is always reflective of its power use as a whole. Placing a strain on one component can quickly add up to placing a strain on another component.
6. Get your car serviced regularly
A good car is like a good athlete: it can always perform reasonably, but conditioning is necessary to be at its best. This means getting your car serviced regularly, as over time all sorts of nasties can build up across the tank, engine, and components to diminish performance.
In particular, look to speak directly to your mechanic about anything you’ve noticed that has slowed performance of your car since its last service. A good mechanic will give your car a tune-up regardless, but it’s hard to always spot every problem. Be sure to raise any issue you’ve noticed, as sometimes it's an easy-to-miss problem that can burn lots of excess fuel overall.
7. Use different fuels occasionally
A service will ensure your car is set to burn fuel efficiently. Changing up the type of fuel you use is another great way to ensure your car’s output remains efficient and affordable. Depending on whether or not your vehicle has a dual-fuel setup, switching between fuel types occasionally is always a good move.
If on a single-fuel setup, alternate between a regular and premium fuel now and then, to keep the pistons firing on different fluids. Finally, if you’re in the market for a new car and keen on maximising mileage, consider a hybrid vehicle to mix up your fuel and electricity use, which can save you a ton of money in the long run.