Wayne Gerdes of Wadsworth, Ill has some tips for getting more miles per gallon. These are the ones that everyone can use safely.
- Keep tire pressure at recommended levels; under-inflated tires use more gas.
Avoid driving at speeds that are higher than necessary, especially on the highway.
Avoid jackrabbit starts and, when possible, avoid sudden stops.
Don't carry items in the car that you don't need; additional weight means lower mileage.
Use air conditioning in moderation.
- Putting the lowest weight oil in your car helps it work more efficiently.
- Change your air filter at least once a year. Engines work harder when they have to pull air through a dirty filter.
- Don’t use cruise control or worry about keeping a constant speed — instead, be concerned with not changing the load on your engine. In other words, it’s acceptable to slow down as you go up a hill, as long as your engine continues to work only as hard as it did when you were on level ground. You’ll make up the loss in speed on the other side of the hill due to the assistance of gravity.
- Don't drive above the speed limit. The faster you go, the more you increase drag on the car from the wind, consuming more fuel.
- Turn your engine off if you are idling for more than 10 seconds. Idling is one of the worst fuel wasters.
- Practice “potential parking.” First, seek out the highest point of a parking lot and, if parking lot topography permits, coast uphill into a spot where you can face out, allowing you to coast right out when you depart.
- Sweat it out sans A/C. Running a mechanical and electrical accessory like air conditioning steals fuel from the engine and decreases fuel economy. Operating the air conditioner on its maximum setting can reduce miles per gallon by up to 25 percent.
- Drive as if you hypothetically do not have brakes. Gerdes says that drivers usually burn fuel to get up to an excessive speed, then throw that energy away by slamming on the brakes at a stop sign or red light. Thus, he asks drivers to imagine driving a brakeless vehicle and adjust their driving style accordingly. He recommends accelerating only as needed, and coasting up to red lights and stop signs when possible.
There is a good analogy of seeing your car as a bicycle and it's run by leg power. On that bike you would save your legs and your energy as much as possible by gliding, using the right gears, having the tires at the right pressure, glide downhill to gain speed for going as far uphill as possible before having to put your muscle into it. I understood this analogy, it clicked with me.