How to use less gas and increase the mileage – see the geek

High gas prices that appear on the street sign
Laura Ganji Bond /

With gas prices skyrocketing and changing day by day, many people are considering switching to an electric car or a hybrid vehicle. However, this is not an option for many, so your next best bet is to try to use less gas and increase your fuel mileage.

Everyone is trying to save money on gas these days. And while the price of gasoline is out of our control, a few small changes can go a long way toward curbing the slope in your wallet. So, check out some valuable tips below for fuel efficient driving and learn how to use less gas.

You don’t have a heavy foot

Leather shoes push the gas pedal to the metal
JimAK_Photo /

It may sound cliched, and you’ve probably heard this before, but I see people driving hard no matter where I go. Do not place the pedal on the metal. It’s hard to kick the habit, but these days, you should probably give it a try and put your feet and your wallet on the edge.

Aggressive driving habits include launching the engine at the green light, speeding, cruising around turns, and picking up speed as fast as you can. All of these activities waste gas, build up over time and will cause you to fill up the tank sooner than necessary. According to the Department of Energy, aggressive driving habits can use anywhere between 20-33% more fuel.

I don’t know about you, but I always catch someone next to me who had a heavy foot at the next red light. It rarely gets you anywhere faster, uses more gas, and it’s not all that safe. Quick acceleration is rarely needed, so dexterity that stifles a bit. This same rule applies to those who have an electric car. You can get more range by being a rational driver.

do maintenance

The oil filter sits in front of the car engine
Cory Gunther

The first thing any mechanic will ask if you’re complaining about poor gas mileage is whether you’ve kept up with maintenance. Change the oil if you want your car to run like a well-oiled machine. And while this is a task that almost everyone is aware of, there are many different easy maintenance jobs that you can do on your own or pay a small fee to get it done that will have a huge impact.

Be sure to change the engine oil and filters at intervals recommended in the owner’s manual or when the computer and vehicle say so. A dirty engine air filter can increase fuel consumption by more than 10% in older cars, so you’ll want to do that as well. Here are some common maintenance tasks to consider:

  • Change the oil and oil filter
  • Replace the engine air filters
  • Replace cabin air filters (yes, this can improve gas mileage)
  • Stay up to date on brake maintenance
  • Replace the spark plugs at the recommended time
  • and more

The most common causes of a Check Engine Light (CEL) are a problem with the EVAP system or a malfunction of the O2/fuel sensor. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that a bad or dirty O2 sensor can tamper with fuel-air ratios and reduce gas efficiency by 20-40%. This is a huge difference and will make you take trips to the gas station more often than you should.

There’s a reason manufacturers put maintenance recommendations in the manual, and it’s not just to keep the car running for longer. Check error codes and keep in touch with your vehicle with an OBD2 scanner.

Easy to use bluetooth scanner

Tire pressure check

Adding air to a car tire
Cory Gunther

Speaking of maintenance, when was the last time you checked your tire pressure? Unfortunately, for many, that’s only when they notice a lowered frame. In fact, tire pressure can have an effect on fuel consumption.

When your tires are not fully inflated, fuel consumption can increase by 5-7%. And while that’s not a huge amount, every little bit counts. Plus, under-air tires will cause uneven wear and cost you more money in the long run.

Tire pressure can increase while driving due to the heat, not to mention the hot summer. The correct tire pressure will give your tire the proper contact with the ground for optimum fuel economy. Check your owner’s manual or the label on the inside of the door or tire wall for the correct PSI for your tires.

In addition, you will need to ensure that your tires are rotated occasionally and that your tire alignment is correct for the best driving experience.

Maintain a constant speed (and distance from others)

Driving a car on a sunny day
ambrozinio /

If you’ve ever wondered why the mileage is different between highway and city driving, it’s because cars are more efficient at certain speeds. Furthermore, maintaining a constant pace without constantly squeezing the gas or breaking will result in better fuel efficiency.

Most vehicles have an optimal gas distance of about 50 mph, and if the laws in your area allow this, staying casually within that range can help drivers use less fuel.

The same DOE study linked above suggests maintaining a constant distance from other drivers, especially while driving in a city. Quick acceleration, slamming the brakes, or driving hard in the city can kill your gas mileage by up to 40% in some cases. Of course, every situation is different, but maintaining a constant speed and a safe distance from others allows you to roll slowly at traffic lights or speed up gently. This can and will improve gas mileage.

Reducing idling and trips

Josh Hendrickson

Another thing many drivers don’t think about is letting the engine idle, which uses more fuel than restarting the car when you’re ready to leave. Chilling for 15-20 minutes can use roughly half a gallon of gas. Many modern vehicles feature a stop-and-go system that automatically shuts down the engine when it comes to a stop, even in traffic, while saving fuel and reducing pollution.

So, the next time you’re sitting in the store waiting for a friend or family member to run or come to work early and want to waste time scrolling through social media, turn off the car instead of wasting gas sitting idle.

This next step should go without saying, but just as you want to limit aggressive driving, unnecessary idle, or choppy traffic, you’ll also want to limit your travels. Try to make all the stops at once, rather than constantly driving back and forth around town.

Reduce weight and drag

Car mounted with cargo rack and bicycle
Ksenia Shcherbakova / Shutterstock

When it comes to vehicles, aerodynamics is important. The less drag you have, the less the engine has to work to reach and maintain speed, which saves gas.

Weight is another factor that you should keep in mind. When you take a trip or go on vacation, you will have more weight in the car, but anytime you reduce unnecessary things like a cargo rack, trash in the trunk, or extra weight, do so. All of these things can contribute to fuel economy.

Go easy on the air conditioner or heater

Turn on the air conditioner in a hot car
Greg McGill /

Hotter summer temperatures will help your car’s engine warm up faster, improving your fuel mileage. However, you will lose any of these gains once the air conditioner is on. In fact, using an air conditioner tires the engine and uses more fuel than any other plus.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that turning on the air conditioner can use up to 25% more fuel while driving, especially on short daily trips around town. Yes 25% and that’s a lot. These numbers get worse if you have a dirty or clogged cabin air filter, so like we said earlier, replace it often.

Rolling the car windows down can increase drag, which reduces fuel mileage, but at slow speeds, it will keep you cool and prevent wasting gas on the air conditioner.

Your best bet is to roll the windows on hot summer days when you first start driving. Get out all that hot air, cool yourself off with the natural flow of air and wind, and then use the air conditioner when you start revving up. This way, your car doesn’t have to work as hard to reach an ideal temperature, and you decide how long it will take to spin at full speed. In winter, use as little heater as possible, as it has a similar effect on fuel economy.

Each gas-saving tip alone can increase your vehicle’s mileage and help you reduce gas consumption. But then, when you practice your sensible driving habits, keep up the maintenance, and combine it all, you’ll totally notice a difference at the pump.