Gas prices are up again, to their highest level in more than a year, so it’s more important than ever to save money at the gas pump. You can do that if you tune up, slow down and lighten up.
How to squeeze more miles out of each gallon of gas
A properly tuned engine can improve fuel economy about 4 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Fixing a serious issue – such as faulty oxygen sensor – can boost mileage up to 40 percent.
If you have a late model car equipped with a service-engine-soon light, don’t ignore the warning.
Properly inflated tires improve gas mileage up to 3 percent or more, plus properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
Under-inflated tires can lower fuel economy by 0.3 percent for every one pound-per-square-inch drop in the pressure of all four tires.
Do not rely solely on the tire pressure monitoring system to detect an under-inflated tire; you should also check tires with a good gauge once a month.
Turning your vehicle into an attic or garage on wheels makes your vehicle work harder and use more gas.
The EPA says an extra 100 pounds reduces fuel economy up to 2 percent, and even more in smaller vehicles.
A loaded roof rack cuts fuel economy by up to 5 percent.
Since about a quarter of each gallon of gas goes toward overcoming wind resistance, when cargo rides on top of the vehicle, fuel economy is reduced.
Even empty ski/snowboard and bike racks can affect aerodynamics, so remove them when the seasons are over.
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed or range of speeds, gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.
According to the EPA, every 5 mph over 60 mph is like adding an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.
A car gets zero mpg when the engine is idling. Even though it does take a small amount of fuel to restart a vehicle, 15 minutes in the drive-through can burn through a quarter of a gallon of fuel.
So that dollar menu is more like a $2 menu.
Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in city driving.
Put it in Overdrive
Using an overdrive gear on the highway reduces engine speed, saving both fuel and engine wear.
Roll ‘Em Down Around Town
Air conditioning reduces fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent. Avoid using the air conditioner by rolling down the windows at speeds below 40 mph.
At speeds above 45 mph, wind drag uses more fuel than running the A/C.
It’s hard to run if you can’t breathe.
Older cars without fuel injection and computer-controlled technology can lose 14 percent of their fuel economy because of a dirt-clogged air filter, which also can damage the engine.
An air filter full of dirt makes the engine work harder and can let in impurities that damage the engine.
Replacing a severely plugged filter improves fuel economy by up to 14 percent, according to the EPA. In modern cars, replacing a dirty or clogged air filter also improves acceleration performance
Use the Right Oil
Because oil reduces engine friction and friction makes an engine work harder, using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of oil improves fuel economy by 1 percent to 2 percent.
Plan your Trips
Taking your kids to soccer or swim classes? Grocery shopping? Plan routes and timing to avoid heavy periods of traffic congestion.
Loose or poorly fitting gas gaps can trigger a “check engine light” warning. Worse, they send 147 million gallons of gasoline into the air as vapor every year, according to a recent report by the Discovery Channel.
A missing or poorly fitting cap can reduce fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent.
Want more tips? Check with your local Chevrolet Certified Service technician.
This post was published first in 2019 and is updated and republished periodically.