You Can Improve Your Car’s Fuel Economy With A Few Tricks

Stopping at the gas station can be a total drag on our day, and considering the current COVID-19 situation it seems like we are avoiding stopping for gas as much as possible. Refueling our car is one of the biggest expenses we have as a car owner, and we can go through hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of gas a year. A little bit of savings in the short run can lead to some big savings over time, and that’s why using little tips and tricks to help us improve our car’s fuel economy can leave us feeling a little bit more satisfied.

Tips that actually help improve fuel economy

There are a lot of myths out there about ways to get better fuel economy or how to get more fuel for your money, and most of them aren’t correct by any means. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to improve your car’s overall fuel economy though, and there are some tips that are proven to help. The first tip seems the most obvious and doesn’t require too much of an explanation: don’t slam on your gas pedal. Your car will only accelerate so quickly, so dumping a bunch of gas isn’t going to help, and it will probably make your passengers motion sick anyways.

A motorist uses a pump as they re-fuel their car with unleaded petrol
A motorist uses a pump as they re-fuel their car with unleaded gas | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Using your car’s air conditioning of course requires energy from the system — aka, you’re burning more fuel when your AC is on. For most people, especially in states where you’re driving in the heat like Florida, having the AC on is well worth the sacrifice in gas mileage.

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Then of course adding things to your car that cause them to carry more weight, like towing a trailer or a boat, will force your engine to work harder and burn more fuel. We can’t always prevent doing this, and we purchase some vehicles solely for this purpose, but towing more than necessary isn’t great on your fuel economy. Having bike racks on your car or SUV also doesn’t help as it ruins the car’s aerodynamics and causes the fuel economy to drop significantly.

Tips that don’t work

Then of course there are some old wives tales about ways to get more gas out of the pump by going early in the morning when it is colder and a bunch of other “life hacks” people spread. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s probably because it is. There is no benefit to putting higher octane gas in your car than recommended, and not only will it not help your fuel economy, it is more expensive in the first place.

A pickup truck at a gas station about to fuel up.
A truck at a gas station | David McNew/Getty Images

There are some sports cars that just aren’t going to get a good fuel economy no matter what you do, like the Dodge Viper which gets less than 15mpg on average, and that’s if it’s left stock and driven like your grandmother is borrowing it. It’s important to recognize what about each car makes it inefficient with fuel in order to see what improvements you can — or can’t — make.

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We can’t go back in time and buy a different car, so sometimes using tricks to get better fuel economy is our best option for saving money on gas — without having to buy a totally new car like a hybrid. These tips are easy enough to follow that you can implement them every day, and you’ll see the results without a doubt.