Maximizing Your MPG

Maximize Your MPG

On my way driving home last night I managed to muster 34.9mpg in my V6 Ford Escape over the course of 30 minutes using nothing but conservative driving techniques. My escape shifts into 4th gear at 45mph and will cruise at a gentle 1500rpm until about 55mph where it sits at 2000rpm. Doing 45 on backroads and 55 on the interstate I mustered almost 35mpg out of a car that lists 18 in the city and 24 on the highway. Here’s a few tips that anyone can do without spending a penny to maximize the mileage out of a tank of gas. Yeah I know most of them are common sense but some of them you may not have thought of yet.

  • Don’t use your air conditioner (A/C) unless you really need it. The A/C compressor puts an extra strain on the engine.
  • Keep your tires inflated to the proper levels. Properly inflated tires suffer less rolling resistance and therefore can improve fuel efficiency by making it easier for your car to move down the road.
  • Avoid long idling. If you anticipate being stopped for more than one minute, shut off the car. Restarting the car uses less fuel than letting it idle.
  • Use a good engine oil, preferably a synthetic or standard oil treated with a friction reducing oil additive. These have been known to improve fuel economy by as much as 12%.
  • Reduce the weight in your vehicle as much as possible.
  • Use your cruise control whenever possible.
  • Keeping your highway speed at 55 mph can improve you gas mileage by as much as 25%, compared to 75 mph.
  • Avoid trying to increase speed while climbing a hill, your engine is already working hard trying to overcome gravity.
  • Keep your windows closed when possible. Open windows actually reduce gas mileage compared to using the A/C.
  • Remove accessories, such as luggage rack, etc. that lower the aerodynamics of your vehicle. Consider getting a tonneau cover for your pickup truck, as this will help to minimize drag over the cargo bed and allow the vehicle to slip through the air stream more efficiently.
  • Be Wary of Urban Legends
    Don’t fall for urban legends and old wives tales either… I’ve heard someone say that “if you fill up just before dawn, when the air is still cool, you should be able to get a little bit extra fuel for your money’s worth because gasoline contracts when it’s still cold outside.” That’s just silly and has never been scientifically proven. Also – you won’t get better gas mileage with higher octane gas than the gasoline that was intended for your vehicle. Octane has nothing to do with the gasoline’s performance, just its volatility factor in the combustion chamber. The higher the octane, the more stable the gas in the combustion chamber environment. Why do high-performance vehicles need higher-octane fuel? Because the combustion chamber environment is much hotter in the performance engine. Using high-octane fuel reduces pre-ignition in the upper regions of the combustion chamber, which can damage valves and pistons if allowed to go for long periods of time. Experts from the Automobile Association of America (AAA) say that about 5% of the cars sold in the U.S. require premium gasoline. Yet premium gas accounts for 20% of all gasoline sold. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended octane rating and stick to it.

    MPG Increasing Products
    Before you start ranting about how spending money to save money is a rediculous idea, consider this: 10% in fuel savings is $4-$5 every time you fill up your vehicle. If you fill up once a week these savings add up to $200-$250 a year. If you spend $200 on your vehicle to improve gas mileage, the modifications will pay for themselves in 1 year’s time. With the way gas prices are going you could be seeing $300 and $400 modifications paying for themselves in a years time.

    New Air Filter – K&N Air Filters claim up to a 10% increase in fuel savings by switching from a “clogged paper filter” to one of their high performance filters.

    Fuel Additives – Some products claim to be able to increase your gas mileage simply by adding chemicals to your gas at the pump. PowerPlusMPG, Ethos FR are just two of the many chemicals out there that claim to be able to increase your MPG. I don’t know if they really do or not and I’m probably not going to be spending any money on any gimmicks to get a few more miles to my gallon that I don’t know for sure are hurting my engine or not.

    Acetone is said to improve the fuel’s ability to vaporize completely by eliminating the surface tension that causes an increase in particulate vaporization temperature. Adding small amounts to your fuel could show small changes in gas mileage (some report anywhere from 2-15%). Acetone is known to deteriorate cheap plastics and other substances. While the components in a car’s fuel system should be of high quality, and thus immune to any deleterious effects from exposure to acetone, be aware that “ideal” is not always the case in practice. Also be aware to keep acetone away from painted surfaces. It is the key ingredient in paint remover. Acetone is also a poisonous substance with dangerous vapors, similar to gasoline. Please, if you’re going to attempt this – don’t do it on your brand new Acura or BMW…d

    There are numerous other products out there that claim to be able to increase gas mileage such as Ignition Wires, Spark Plugs, and even Exhaust Mufflers

    Be careful when purchasing shady unproven products and wasting your money on gimmicks – but don’t think that spending a little money to keep your car in check and in tune won’t pay for itself over time in gas savings.

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