16 Cunning Ways to Maximize Your Vehicle’s Fuel Efficiency and Save Some Money

Did you know the average person in America sends between $150 to $200 on gas monthly? So says J.D. Power, which adds that American families fork over around $5,000 for gas every year. 

How much you spend will depend on factors like how much you drive and the vehicle you own.

Here are 16 things you can do to improve fuel efficiency and keep more of your money.

Avoid Aggressive Driving

Angry senior driver shouting at other motorists
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Driving aggressively can reduce gas mileage by 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic. So, if you have a heavy foot or brake too harshly, lighten up. You’re paying more for gas than you should.

Keep Cargo Off Your Roof

stylish woman loading cargo on car roof top
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A roof rack on your vehicle can be a godsend when you need more cargo space. Even so, hauling cargo that way will boost aerodynamic drag and lessen fuel efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy says carrying a big roof-top cargo box can slash fuel economy by 2% to 8% in city driving, 6% to 17% on the highway, and 10% to 25% at Interstate speeds of 65 mph to 75 mph.

Use Cruise Control

Cruise control buttons on modern car and speed limitation
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According to one source, you can save an average of 7% to 14% on gas using cruise control.  Ensure you use it responsibly since cruise control isn’t an excuse to take your attention off the road.

No Excessive Idling

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According to one source, idling your vehicle can cost you half a gallon of fuel every hour, depending on the vehicle type and the engine size. If you idle for a few minutes daily, that can add up to several dollars weekly. 

Get Rid of Excess Weight

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A heavier car will cost you more in gas. That’s not likely much of a surprise. If you have stuff in your car that’s not needed, get rid of the excess weight. A lighter car is a more fuel-efficient one.

Respect the Speed Limit

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Ignoring the posted speed limit can get you into trouble with the long arm of the law. But speeding tickets and demerit points aren’t the only possible problems. You can also lessen fuel efficiency. If you’re driving too fast, you’ll be at the gas pump sooner than you should have to.

Decelerate Intelligently

cars driving close to each other in traffic
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You won’t have to smash the brakes to slow down if you pay attention. Observe the flow of traffic. If the light is turning red, coast to a stop if you can. You can save gas and money by coasting rather than using your brakes.

Stick to a Steady Speed

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Driving at a steady speed can help you save on gas. While on the highway, you can use cruise control to do this. Doing this will be harder in stop-and-go city traffic, but do your best. You’ll have a more fuel-efficient vehicle and keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.

Maintain Your Vehicle 

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Another way to make your vehicle more fuel efficient is to maintain it properly. Follow the ownership manual to get regular maintenance so your car runs efficiently.

Assess Your Vehicle Needs

Fuel gauge showing full car fuel
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If you’re stressed about fuel efficiency, you shouldn’t own a gas guzzler. So, carefully consider whether your vehicle works for or against your goal of reducing fuel usage.

Ensure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated

Young woman inflating tire at car service
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One source notes you can increase your gas mileage by 3.3% if your tires are inflated properly. That means a 30 mpg car can get an extra 1 mpg with properly inflated tires. While that might seem minimal, it’ll add up over time. 

Remove Bicycle Racks

Bikes fastened on bicycle holder mounted on back side of car on country road. Brown car with roof luggage box and trunk bike rack driving on highway.
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Roof-top racks aren’t the only racks that can lower fuel efficiency. You’ll also want to remove bike racks whenever they’re not needed. 

Don’t Use Air Conditioning When It’s Not Needed

turning on car ac
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Did you know using your car’s air conditioning can boost fuel consumption by as much as 20%? That’s due to the extra load placed on the engine. Switch it off unless you need it.

Plan Your Route

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You can also save money on fuel by planning your route. For instance, you can travel during times of the day when there’s less traffic. By avoiding trouble spots that can make a road or highway look like a parking lot, you can get about your day and reduce fuel use.

Combine Trips

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Combining trips can also translate into better fuel efficiency. Rather than spreading out a bunch of errands over the week, try doing everything in one go. You can use a GPS for more efficient route planning.

Walk More Often

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Another way to maximize your vehicle’s fuel efficiency is to use it less often. If you normally hop into the car to go to a convenience store five minutes away, how about walking there and back? You’ll save on gas and burn some calories while you’re at it. Consider it a win-win.

Saving Money When You Can Is a Good Thing

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At a time when prices for everything are increasing, it makes sense to save when you can. Not everyone can — or wants to — go vehicle-free. But that doesn’t mean you can’t slash your gas bill with a few adjustments.

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