15 Tips For Maxing Out Your MPG

Fuel Saving Tips To Deal With Record Breaking Area Gas Prices

Chicago gas prices have again hit all time highs again today.

ChicagoGasPrices.com has the average price of regular unleaded gasoline at $4.56 per gallon, 4 cents above the previous record set last year.

While AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report has city prices 2 cents higher than last year’s record at $4.67 per gallon and Chicago area prices (including the suburbs) are at a record $4.50 per gallon.

So, with local gas prices ranked as the most expensive in the nation, and more pain at the pump on the horizon with some experts expecting $5 a gallon gas soon as gas stations start selling the more expensive summer blend, The Expired Meter has some tips to maximize your mileage.

With some help from AAA and the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, here’s our favorite 15 tips for squeezing a few extra miles out of a gallon of gas and reducing your pain at the pump.

Drive Like Grandma

Grandma had it right according to the AAA and the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Speeding, rapid acceleration, and excessive braking are all wasteful driving behaviors. Break out your blue haired wig and do your best Granny impersonation while behind the wheel and you can save you up to 33% on your gas usage.

Hey Leadfoot! Obey The Speed Limit!

According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, gas mileage decreases rapidly when vehicles exceed 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, it costs an additional 25 cents gallon for every 5 mph over the limit. In other words “follow the speed limit!”

Remove Excessive Weight From Your Vehicle

No, we’re not talking about kicking your mother-in-law to the curb. But if you have heavy tools, equipment, a bag of golf clubs, a dead body and/or a half-full keg of beer in your trunk from last weekend’s party, transporting this extra weight will cost you extra cash. Remove the junk from the trunk and get better mileage.

Avoid Idling

An idling engine is a wasteful engine. If you’re burning gas standing still, you’re getting 0 mpg.

Turn Off The A/C, Turn On The A/C

Running your air conditioning eats up gas quickly. Only run it if you have to. But driving with the windows open also increases gas consumption and in fact, is even worse than running the A/C. In other words, damned if you do, hot if you don’t.

Invest In A Tire Pressure Gauge

Sure, it may set you back 4 or 5 bucks, but a decent tire pressure gauge is necessary to keeping your tires properly inflated with the correct pressure. Under inflated tires increase your resistance and costs you more in gas. Plus properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

You can usually find the correct tire pressure for your vehicle on a decal in the driver’s side door jamb and/or listed in the owner’s manual in the glove box.

Buy The Good Motor Oil Ya’ Cheapskate!

Better, more expensive engine oils like synthetics or a standard motor oil with a friction reducing additive can improve fuel efficiency. At the very least use the grade of oil the manufacturer recommends for your engine. Don’t use 5W-30 when the owner’s manual ask for 10W-30.

Keep Your Engine In Tip Top Shape

Getting periodic engine tune ups can be expensive. But wasting gas because of an out of tune engine can be even more costly. Get your car in to a mechanic once a year for a proper tune up. And don’t hire your buddy’s cousin’s friend with the glazed expression on his face to do the job–hire a professional.

Get Organized, Plan Your Travel

Try to plan your driving so you’re not wasting gas and money traveling back and forth covering the same route a few times a day.

Blow Off Rush Hour

Come in or leave the office before or after rush hour. Less time in your car means less gas burned. What about tele-commuting some days? What’s better than working at home in your pajamas while watching those chicks from The View scream at each other?

Green Light, Red Light

Try to anticipate red lights. The less you stop, the better your gas mileage. Ease off the accelerator when the light ahead is red, safely speed up to catch the green when you can.

Avoid sprinting from red light to red light. In other words don’t drive like a dick.

Say NO To Topping Off The Tank

There’s a reason gas pumps have auto-shutoff valves–because overfilling can spill and waste gas.

Keep Your Gas Cap On Tight

Believe it or don’t, but allegedly according to Advance Auto Parts, “Improperly seated gas caps allow 147 million gallons of fuel to vaporize every year in the U.S.”

Highway Driving Tips

Don’t forget to use your cruise control and your overdrive gears when driving at higher speeds. Cruise control will even out your driving speed and when you use your car’s overdrive gears the engine slows down and wastes less gasoline. Consider removing unused luggage or bike racks to reduce drag on your vehicle.

Drive Less!

Walking. Riding a bike. Take public transportation. Combine errands when possible and consider carpooling. Less driving = less spent on gas. Duh!

Editors Note: This column is a mild revision of a previous advice piece The Expired Meter posted when gas prices hit record territory in 2011.

5 Responses to 15 Tips For Maxing Out Your MPG

  1. glg says:

    5w30 vs 10w30 isn’t a big difference, especially this time of year. the 5 just means it’s better in colder temperatures (like below 0). This time of year, they’re both just 30.

  2. equipt31 says:

    as far as the A/C, wind resistance becomes an issue as early as 45MPH so I tend to drive windows down up to that speed and A/C on beyond that (basically A/C on only during highway)

  3. Pete says:

    Most important tip: fill your tank OUTSIDE Chicago limits, ideally in Indiana where its a full $1 a gallon cheaper than in River North.

  4. The city could do it’s part, they could syncronize traffic signals they way they used to be. Does anyone know of a street with synced traffic signal? That would save more gas than any government tips.

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