Whether you’re taking a quick jaunt or a longer road trip, going farther on each gallon of gas you put in your car, truck, or motorbike saves you money—and spares the air. Here are eight ways to get the most miles out of your tank:
1. Lighten the load.
Every 100 pounds of cargo reduces fuel economy by up to 1 percent. Remove unnecessary items from the trunk and elsewhere. Rooftop cargo boxes create a mileage drag by making your vehicle less aerodynamic; remove them when they’re not in use.
2. Drive mindfully.
Avoid sudden stops and jackrabbit starts—both of which lower fuel efficiency—by paying attention to road conditions, traffic lights, and stop signs. Use cruise control on highways and fast-passes on toll roads to minimize accelerations and decelerations.
3. Organize outings.
Plan shopping runs, school pickups, and other excursions so you can take care of multiple tasks in a single trip. Map your route to eliminate backtracking. If possible, and if your employer allows it, commute during nonpeak hours.
4. Schedule routine checkups.
A well-maintained car is a more efficient machine. Change oil, replace filters, and top off fluids as recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Using the recommended fuel grade helps prevent engine deposits that reduce efficiency. The AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility Locator provides easy access to information on 7,000 AAA approved shops around the country.
5. Consider alternatives.
A hybrid or electric vehicle may carry a higher sticker price than a traditional car, but it can help cut down on, or eliminate, trips to the pump. By going green, you could save green down the road.
6. Obey posted speed limits.
Reducing your highway speed by 5 to 10 mph can boost fuel economy anywhere from 7 to 14 percent.
7. Fill up at the right time.
When the weather gets hot, an open gas tank lets gasoline vapors escape faster. Refuel at the cooler bookends of the day, in early morning or late evening, to pollute less and save fuel.
8. Keep tires properly inflated.
Make sure your tires are inflated to the pressure shown inside the driver’s door of your vehicle or in the owner’s manual. Keeping tires at the right pressure is safer and prolongs their life. Proper inflation can also improve gas mileage by as much as 3.3 percent, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
This article was first published in May 2018 and last updated in September 2021.