If you drive an older car, you may be wondering how to get better gas mileage. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average age of a vehicle on the road in the US is 11.9 years. While older cars may be reliable and affordable, they can often be less fuel-efficient than newer models.
After all, gas prices can be high, and it can be frustrating to see your fuel gauge drop quickly. There are several simple steps you can take to improve your gas mileage and save money at the pump.
In this article, we will discuss some of the best tips for getting better gas mileage on an older car. We will cover everything from routine maintenance to driving habits. By following these tips, you can save money at the pump and reduce your environmental impact.
1. Keep Your Car Well-Maintained
One of the most crucial factors in achieving better gas mileage on an older car is proper maintenance. A well-maintained vehicle tends to run more efficiently and consumes less fuel. Here are some maintenance tips to consider:
Regular Oil Changes
Changing your car’s oil at the manufacturer-recommended intervals is essential. Clean oil reduces friction in the engine, allowing it to run smoothly and efficiently. Over time, engine oil becomes contaminated with dirt and debris, which can lead to increased friction and decreased fuel efficiency. Regular oil changes ensure that your engine operates at its best.
Check and Replace Air Filters
Your car’s air filter prevents dust, pollen, and debris from entering the engine. Over time, these filters can become clogged, making it difficult for your engine to breathe. A dirty air filter can reduce fuel efficiency significantly. Check your owner’s manual for replacement intervals, but as a general rule, consider changing the air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or once a year.
Keep Tires Inflated
Under-inflated tires can increase rolling resistance, which means your engine has to work harder to move the car. Check your tire pressure regularly and keep them inflated to the recommended levels, as specified in your car’s manual or on the tire’s sidewall. Properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage by up to 3%.
Maintain a Clean Fuel System
A clean fuel system is essential for optimal fuel efficiency. Over time, carbon deposits and contaminants can accumulate in the fuel system, including the fuel injectors and intake valves. Consider using fuel system cleaners designed to remove these deposits and improve combustion. A cleaner fuel system leads to better fuel economy and smoother engine performance.
2. Drive Smarter
Your driving habits can have a significant impact on your gas mileage, regardless of your car’s age. Here are some tips for driving more efficiently:
Gentle Acceleration and Braking
Avoid aggressive driving, such as rapid acceleration and sudden braking. When you stomp on the gas pedal, your car’s engine consumes more fuel to provide the necessary power. Similarly, abrupt braking wastes energy as it dissipates speed. Instead, accelerate smoothly and anticipate stops to minimize the energy your car uses. This can improve gas mileage by up to 33% on the highway and 5% in the city.
Maintain a Consistent Speed
When driving on the highway, maintaining a steady speed can save fuel. Use cruise control when appropriate, and avoid unnecessary speed changes. Rapid acceleration and deceleration waste fuel. On the highway, aim for a constant speed within the speed limit, and you’ll notice an improvement in your gas mileage.
Idling consumes fuel, so turn off your engine when you’re parked or waiting for an extended period. Modern cars use less fuel when restarting than when idling for long periods. If you anticipate being stationary for more than a minute, it’s more efficient to turn off your engine and restart it when you’re ready to go.
3. Lighten the Load
Carrying excess weight in your vehicle can reduce gas mileage. Remove unnecessary items from your trunk and interior to lighten the load. Every 100 pounds of extra weight can reduce fuel efficiency by about 1%. While this might not seem like much, it can add up over time, especially if you’re a frequent commuter. So, clean out your car regularly and only carry what you need.
4. Choose the Right Fuel
Using the correct type of fuel for your car is essential. Check your owner’s manual to determine the recommended fuel grade for your vehicle. Using premium fuel when your car only requires regular unleaded is not only unnecessary but also more expensive. Most cars are designed to run perfectly fine on regular unleaded gasoline. Using a higher-octane fuel won’t improve performance or fuel efficiency unless your car specifically requires it.
5. Plan Your Trips
Consolidate your errands and plan your trips to minimize unnecessary driving. Combining multiple errands into one outing can help reduce mileage and improve gas efficiency. When you plan your routes, try to avoid heavy traffic times if possible. Stop-and-go traffic and long idling periods can have a significant negative impact on your fuel economy. Use navigation apps that offer real-time traffic information to find the quickest and most fuel-efficient routes.
By following the tips above, you can get better gas mileage on your older car and save money at the pump. Remember, even small changes can make a difference. So start today and see how much you can save.