How to Maximize Fuel Efficiency

Longer days, warmer weather, and summer break from school is a perfect combination for packing up and hitting the road. However with increasing gas prices, you may find yourself limited in the distance you can cover with your budget. Before you make a change of plans, consider making a change to your driving habits. With just a few adjustments you can improve your vehicle’s performance and in turn, its fuel efficiency.

Reducing the amount of time you’re on the road, walking or biking when possible, and carpooling are great ways to reduce fuel usage, however these are not always feasible. For times you need to drive, Kennedy Transmission has tips on how to improve your vehicle’s performance, reduce emissions, and increase fuel efficiency.

1. Modify Your Driving Habits

One of the most significant impacts on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency is our driving habits. Speeding, braking, and rapid acceleration waste gas, sometimes up to 30% depending on the type of vehicle you drive. Driving sensibly not only keeps you safe on the road but will save you money each time you fill up. 

While every vehicle has its own optimal speed for fuel efficiency, in general gas mileage tends to decrease once you begin traveling above 50 miles per hour. Speeding increases fuel consumption as a result of increased tire rolling resistance and air resistance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing your speed by 5 to 10 mph can improve fuel economy by 7%-14%.

If you’re slamming on your brakes every time you stop, you’re doing a huge disservice not only to your fuel efficiency but to the quality of the brakes as well. Continuously slamming your brakes requires your car to use more energy to accelerate again, which can cause major problems if you’re stuck in stop and go traffic. Instead of coming to a quick stop, ease to a stop and utilize engine braking. The more gentle you are to your car when it comes to braking, the less damage you’ll cause to the brakes themselves and the more return you’ll see on fuel efficiency.

2. Keep a Clean Car

It’s easy to forget about items in your vehicle, especially if the clutter is out of sight in your backseat or trunk. While it may not seem like a big deal, extra items add up quickly. Carrying around as little as 100 pounds of extra weight in your vehicle can reduce your fuel efficiency. Take time to clear out gym bags, backpacks, books, sports equipment, and all of those plastic water bottles rolling around under the seats.

Give attention to the outside of your car as well. If you’re not utilizing them, remove add ons such as:

  • Roof racks
  • Trailer hitches
  • Bike racks
  • Cargo boxes

Leaving these items attached to your car when not in use adds wind resistance, weighs down your vehicle, and can reduce fuel efficiency anywhere from 1% to 19%.

3. Check Your Tires

You might be wondering, can tires really affect gas mileage? The answer is yes! Tires can make a big difference in your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Both large tires and underinflated tires will have a negative impact on your gas mileage. Tires can lose about 2 pounds per square inch (psi) every month. Tires that are underinflated by 10 psi each lose about 3.3% fuel economy. If you’re dealing with underinflation in all four tires, you’re experiencing a 10% decrease in fuel economy, which quickly adds up.

In addition to underinflated tires, installing bigger tires on your vehicle will decrease your gas mileage. The impact comes from a variety of reasons including heavier tires that require more engine power to rotator. Another factor is the rolling resistance, or the amount of force exerted against your tire as it rolls. The more rolling resistance you face, the more fuel your vehicle will need to keep it moving. Rolling resistance is affected by tread, vehicle weight, tire diameter, and more, all which factor in when you upgrade to larger tires.

4. Limit Idling

A car can consume up to one half gallon of gas per hour that it idles. When you’ll be stopped for more than one minute, turn off your vehicle instead of letting it run. Idling uses more fuel and gives off 80% more pollution than when your car is in motion. Whether you’re stuck in traffic or waiting to pick someone up, turning off your car and restarting it is a better choice than letting it run. 

Many late model cars already feature a stop-start system that automatically shuts down the engine when the car comes to a stop. When the brake is released, the engine automatically starts back up again. A warm engine takes very little fuel and energy to restart, especially compared to an engine that is idling. 

5. Stay Up To Date On Maintenance

Arguably the most important step you can take in maximizing your vehicle’s fuel efficiency is scheduling regular maintenance. By doing so, you can ensure everything in your vehicle is running smoothly. From cleaning air filters to checking vehicle alignment to replacing spark plugs, every effort you make to improve your vehicle’s overall performance will pay off when it comes to fuel efficiency. 

Thankfully, the experts at Kennedy Transmission are equipped to identify any outstanding problems your vehicle may be experiencing and schedule regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly.

Kennedy Transmission Has Your Back

Maximizing your car’s fuel efficiency isn’t an overnight process. It takes time and effort but is definitely achievable. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with making every change at once, little changes add up over time to make a difference in your car’s overall performance. Whether you’re ready to set up an appointment, or just have a few questions about your vehicle, the knowledgeable mechanics at Kennedy Transmission are here to help. 

Visit us in Bloomington, Minneapolis, Shakopee, or any of our auto and maintenance shops across Minnesota. Stop by or give us a call and start your journey to a more fuel efficient vehicle today!

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