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Ways to Make Your Car More Fuel Efficient

On days when air conditioning is a must, first try cooling your car the old fashioned way — rolling down the windows, opening the vents, peeling back the sunroof. You’d be amazed how much hot air you can clear out of your car just by opening up for awhile.

Flipping on the air conditioning full blast as soon as you hop into a hot car is a big waste of gas and money.

11. Air off, windows down at highway speeds.

Keep in mind, though, that at highway speeds, driving with your windows open drastically reduces your fuel efficiency, far more so than putting the air conditioning on. Yes, the air conditioning uses more gas, but with the decrease in drag and airflow obstruction, you’re probably just about breaking even. And you’ll have a quieter, more comfortable ride with a lot less stress.

12. Use the trunk.

A loaded-down roof rack cuts fuel economy by as much as 5 percent. But clear the trunk after a trip — and clean out your backseat. An extra 100 pounds reduces fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent. Smaller cars are affected more when they carry extra weight because the reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight. So, if you’ve been putting off cleaning out your trunk or emptying your roof carrier, there is no time like the present. Sure, maybe your garage will be more cluttered, but your gas mileage will increase.

13. Avoid rush hour.

Not only is stop-and-go traffic stressful and annoying, it’s bad for your car’s gas mileage. So avoid driving at rush hour whenever you can. Stagger your work hours so you can time your weekday commuting at less busy times of the day.

14. Use your garage for your car.

Got a garage? Clear it out and make room for your car. Parking in your garage will help your car stay warm in winter and cool in summer, and you won’t have to depend as much on your gas-guzzling air-conditioning or defroster when you drive.

15. Go for the shade.

The hot summer sun that makes the inside of your car feel like a sauna also zaps fuel from your gas tank. If you let your car bake in the sun there’s going to be a greater amount of evaporative emissions that take place than if you park in the shade.

So park your car in the shade of a building or tree whenever possible. And buy a good windshield shade. A windshield shade blocks sunlight and helps to keep heat out of the inside of your car.

16. Don’t circle in a parking lot, and keep well away from the store fronts.

Look for a spot in the empty half of the parking lot. Many people spend significant time idling and creeping, waiting for a “close spot” to open up.

17. Tires effect fuel efficiency.

It is estimated that about 50 percent of tires on the road are under inflated. Aside from increasing the rate of wear, this wastes fuel and decreased your fuel efficiency. Check your tire pressures every fortnight. Worn tires will also decrease fuel efficiency (and your safety!), so check the tread regularly. If you are replacing tires then consider some of the newer “Eco” tires that are designed specifically to increase fuel efficiency.

18. Keep your engine in tune.

Fixing a car that is out of tune or has failed an emissions test can boost gas mileage by about 4 percent. So be sure to give your car regular tune-ups. You’ll also want to watch out for worn spark plugs. A misfiring spark plug can reduce a car’s fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent.

19. Replace air filters.

Keep a close eye on your engine’s air filter. When the engine air filter clogs with dirt, dust and bugs, it causes your engine to work harder and your car becomes less fuel-efficient. Replacing a clogged air filter could improve your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and save you 15 cents a gallon. It’s a good idea to have your engine air filter checked at each oil change. The Car Care Council recommends changing your car’s air and oil filters every three months or 3,000 miles or as specified in your owner’s manual.

20. Use the right oil.

You can improve your car’s gas mileage by 1 percent to 2 percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Opt for motor oil with the words “energy conserving” on the API performance label. This oil contains friction-reducing additives.

21. Maintain a log.

Maintain a log over time of how many miles you go (the main odometer) and how much gas you put in (from the gas pump, including fractions). Put it in a spreadsheet. It will keep you focused, and other methods are inaccurate; you will never know for sure if you’re saving fuel, wasting fuel or just seeing errors from gas pumps that stop pumping at different points, or fractions of miles being dropped off your “trip” odometer when you reset it.

22. Leave the car at home!

Probably the best way to decrease the amount of petrol you burn, is to leave the car and home, and take a bike, bus, or train, or to walk. A quarter of all car journeys in USA are less than two miles long, and walking or cycling are cheap and clean alternatives, and healthy too!

As gas prices continue to climb, increasing the fuel mileage is the best way to protect your pocket book. So give these tips a try and spend less money on gas by increasing your car’s fuel efficiency.

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