Whether you drive an exotic sports car, rugged pickup truck or humble subcompact, chances are you’d be happy to pay less for gas. While oil prices are relatively low at the moment, they’re sure to go up again. To keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket, you might try driving less or staying off the throttle. But are there better ways to help your car use fuel more efficiently?
The answer is yes. You’ll never transform your 7-seat SUV into an economy car, but this is a game of inches, and you can use some little-known secrets to win back some money from the pump.
Saving Fuel Starts With You
Some say that the best way to make a racecar faster is to “tighten the nut behind the wheel.” That means you, of course. The same is true of saving fuel — not only do you need to think about how you use the throttle, but you need to measure your average MPG before you can begin looking for ways to save.
For starters, plan your outings so that you use the most efficient route, to save on fuel. The internet has made it easy to find good deals on gas, so if there’s a station a little farther away that offers better prices, make it part of your routine to stop there instead of your normal filling spot. You can even get an app to help find cheap gas.
When you do fill up, don’t go for the premium stuff unless your owner’s manual specifies that your car needs it. Most cars are just fine running on good old regular — premium is usually only required in higher-performance applications.
Make sure your keep your car maintained, use clean oil and check your tire pressure. Proper tire pressure alone can increase gas mileage by up to three percent. To get even more, use cruise control on the highway, roll your windows up at speeds past 55 and don’t make passes while traveling uphill.
Getting Your Hands Dirty
If you’re prepared to get a little greasy to save those greenbacks, there’s more you can do. If your spark plugs are old, replace them to help your engine burn cleaner and more efficiently. Low rolling-resistance tires are a sure way to bump up your MPG, although you may need to pay a little up front to have them mounted.
The air filter on your car needs changed at regular intervals, allowing it to keep breathing in dirty air could cost you MPGs and horsepower. You can get a new one at most lube shops.
Lastly, several important sensors tell your car’s computer how to manage fuel. If these are reading incorrectly, your engine won’t run its best. Replacing your Mass Air Flow Sensor and Oxygen Sensor is a moderately easy job, though you might want to consult a mechanic if you don’t have any experience working on cars.
Following these tips will help you find a little wiggle room in your budget. And if all else fails, get a Prius. Just kidding, you don’t need to get that drastic.
This article is a courtesy of Scott Huntington. Scott Huntington loves all things fast. Check out his blog OffTheThrottle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.
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