Q: What can I do to get the best possible mileage from my car? I can’t afford a new car right now, so I want to do what I can to get the most from this car for as long as possible.
A: The most important thing you can do to improve your gas mileage is make sure your vehicle is running at top performance. The following maintenance tips will make a difference.
• Make sure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure. A mile or two per gallon can be lost if tires are underinflated.
• Check for worn spark plugs. Heavy deposits and worn electrodes cause misfiring. Loss of power and reduced gas mileage are the result.
• Replace dirty engine air filters. A clogged air filter will cause the engine to use more gas and affect gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
• Use synthetic lubricants in your engine and driveline. Not only do they help cut down on repairs, but they also can increase gas mileage by 8 percent. These superior lubricants reduce friction, resulting in less effort required for the engine to run and a longer life for the engine parts.
Your driving style also affects gas mileage. So remember the following when behind the wheel.
• Aggressive driving (driving fast and accelerating hard) can decrease mileage by as much as 30 percent.
• When approaching a stop light, if it is obvious that you will need to stop, ease off the accelerator 100 feet or so before the light. Coasting saves gas.
• Weighing your vehicle down by filling your trunk with unneeded items can impact mileage; every 100 pounds can cut gas mileage by 1-2 percent.
• Air conditioning takes extra power to run and has a negative effect on gas mileage. If it is not too hot, just use the fan setting.
• Taking several short trips from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multipurpose trip covering the same distance.
Paying attention to your vehicle and keeping it well maintained (which should include taking it to a trusted auto repair facility when needed) – along with being aware of your driving habits – will positively impact your mileage as well as reduce your overall repair costs.
For more information, visit the Car Care Council website at www.carcare.org.