Gas prices are known to fluctuate, and saving money on gas is almost always a big concern for many car owners. Luckily, there are ways you can alter your driving methods and car maintenance to improve your car’s gas mileage. Our team at Huffines Kia McKinney has compiled this guide to help you manage your gas mileage and hopefully save money at the pump.
Reduce Excess Weight
Image via Flickr by Tony Webster
The first thing you can do to reduce your gas mileage is to lessen the excess weight you may be carrying around in your car. If you have cargo that you’ve been keeping in your trunk for a rainy day, it may be costing you more money than you think. Additional weight requires more power to move, so more fuel is used to transport heavier vehicles.
If you have front-wheel drive, additional weight in your car’s trunk can mean extra pressure on the rear axle. This can cause your mileage to go down because the front wheels aren’t getting as good a grip as they should. To avoid this, consider cleaning out your trunk and make sure you limit how much cargo you add to it.
Properly Inflate the Tires
Your tires can affect your gas mileage because an underinflated tire causes your engine to use more gas to propel your car forward. Checking the air pressure on your tires can be a great way to ensure you aren’t losing gas mileage over something that’s easily fixable. You can usually look at your tires to see if they’re underinflated, but sometimes an undetectable difference in your tire pressure changes your car’s miles per gallon (mpg). So, it may also be helpful to have your tire pressure checked during routine maintenance.
Replace Your Air Filter and Spark Plugs
The air filter and spark plugs in your engine can help your car last longer, and they can help your engine burn gas more efficiently. The spark plugs and air filter are part of the engine and keep it regulated and working at its best. These are fairly easy to replace, and most technicians will recognize when they need to be changed. You can have these parts of your engine checked during your routine maintenance. This procedure should be fairly straightforward, as you should regularly replace these aspects of your engine anyway.
Use the Recommended Motor Oil
Motor oil is the mixture of base oil and additives that lubricates the engine parts inside the vehicle. It reduces friction between these parts, making their functions easier within your engine. There are various types of motor oils available for machinery, and using the correct one can significantly affect how successful the oil is at protecting your engine. To get the lowest mpg you can, make sure you use the recommended motor oil for your vehicle.
Using a heavier motor oil than what’s recommended for your car can create too much friction and cause the engine to work harder and burn more fuel. Using lighter than the recommended motor oil may have the same effect. You can research the motor oil that’s suitable for your car by reading the manual or asking the dealership when taking your car in for regular maintenance.
Check Your Gas Cap Seal
A gas cap seal is the rubber seal on your gas cap that protects your gas tank from the elements. Over time, the rubber on this seal can degrade from use and exposure. If the gas tank isn’t properly sealed, oxygen can leak into your gas tank. An overabundance of air in the gas tank eventually makes its way into the engine. When this happens, the engine may burn more gas as the air pushes the gas into the machine unnecessarily. Burning more gas lowers your mpg.
Most cars have gas cap seals that are attached to the vehicle or included with the purchase, so many people are familiar with sealing their gas caps. However, if your car is older, and the seal has begun to degrade, you can get a new gas cap at a dealership or car accessories retailer. To maintain a tight seal, most vehicles can have their gas caps replaced every few years. They usually cost around $30, so it’s a small price to pay for a higher mpg, saving you money in the long run.
Some cars have built-in sensors that can tell when the gas cap seal is degraded. Check your car manual to see if your car has this feature and learn how to use it to identify when you should replace your gas cap. However, keep in mind that this sensor may not recognize gas caps that aren’t made by the brand that manufactured the car. This may impact what cap you buy to replace the original.
Drive at the Speed Limit or Below
Small maintenance can be a great way to control your mpg and make sure your car’s condition isn’t chipping away at your gas mileage. It is also a great way to make sure that your car remains in good condition as long as you own it, which can help you save money on extensive repairs and improve the value of your car if you choose to trade it in. However, there are also driving behaviors you can engage in to help you lower your gas mileage. One is driving at or below the speed limit.
Cars burn gas less efficiently at speeds of 60 miles an hour or higher. Keeping most of your driving under that speed limit can help you save gas. Using cruise control is also a great way to control your speed. You can match the vehicle’s speed ahead of you and turn on your cruise control to keep a steady pace.
If you know of any other easy tips for improving your gas mileage, contact us, and we can add them to our guide. If you are looking for a car with even better gas mileage than your current make and model, you can stop by Huffines Kia McKinney and look at our inventory of new and used vehicles.