5 Easy Tips to Improve Your Gas Mileage

Gas prices are high and look to stay that way. In order to reduce the pain a bit I’ve started using some strategies from hypermilers to improve my gas mileage. I read all I could about their techniques, threw out the dangerous strategies like drafting 10ft behind large semis and came up with the following list.

After one tank of gas worth of hypermiling techniques I increased my gas mileage from 22.4 to 25.1 MPG. Almost 3 miles per gallon is worth it to keep using the techniques, especially since they aren’t hard to maintain.

If you’re interested in improving your mileage, here’s what you can do.

1. No need to warm up car
I used to start the car, then put on my seatbelt and let the car warm up for a little before driving. Now I start the car and go.

2. Accelerate slowly
When the light turns green I no longer stomp on the gas. Instead I accelerate smoothly, shifting at around 2500 RPM to keep the engine from revving too high.

3. Keep moving
When I see a red light ahead I let my foot off the gas and attempt to time it so I’m still moving when the light turns green. Be careful when doing this because cars behind you will not expect this. For some reason most people like to speed up right to the light so they can slam on their brakes just before the car ahead of them.

4. Maintain constant speed (55mph if possible)
Recommendations I read suggested using cruise control, but I chose to do it myself. I usually went 60mph in a 65, giving the added benefit of not having to worry about a speeding ticket. I’ve read that 55mph tends to be the ideal speed for optimum gas mileage.

5. Turn off the car immediately when parking.
I used to leave the car running while I adjusted my windows. Now I turn the car off right when I park, then turn the key back so I can adjust the windows without the engine running.

It’s hard to tell which of these helped the most but I plan to continue using these techniques as well as any others I learn about to get the best mileage possible. There’s little to no downside to using the techniques and plenty of reasons to do so.


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  1. I get a huge kick out of the hypermiling techniques – quite astonishing what these guys can do when mileage is the be-all and end-all.

    Couple of dead easy “tricks” that aren’t driving technique related but make quick, cheap improvements.
    – fresh air filter
    – remove roof racks when not in use
    – unload the trunk!


    Comment by Light & Dark on July 8, 2008 @ 11:16 am
  2. @Paul Excellent comment. I forgot to mention that I have a K&N air filter and had already removed extraneous items from the trunk. Getting rid of heavy items in the trunk can get you better gas mileage without having to change any of your driving habits.

    Comment by Dan on July 8, 2008 @ 12:07 pm
  3. I posted earlier on a different post about how speed didn’t affect my mileage much (based on a simple test). However, I recently drove 2700 mi on a trip to Canada and was hoping to get at least 31 mpg on each leg, with 3 adults in the car. My previous high was 32 mpg with 2 adults.

    However, I often couldn’t get over 31 in the majority of legs, to my surprise. But even more of a surprise, my very last tank, I managed to pull an astonishing 35.5 mpg! I don’t know exactly why, but a lot of the tank was used meandering through Yellowstone, canyons and small towns through northern Utah where I couldn’t go as fast. Since then, I’ve been trying to stay around 70 on the freeway (haven’t gone more than 75) and it looks like it might just have an effect. I’ll know more later.

    Comment by Cameron on July 18, 2008 @ 8:27 am
  4. So I filled up my tank and got 30.7 mpg, which is a negligible improvement. I definitely stayed a lot lower on the freeway. But, in the name of science, and realizing there will be significant pain involved for 2 weeks, I’m going to try going no faster than 65. If that is negligible also, then I shall wave a somewhat-haughty goodbye to advocates of modern cars driving slower to save fuel.

    Comment by Cameron on July 24, 2008 @ 8:00 am
  5. @Cameron Thanks for the update. If you don’t save fuel driving slower in your car, you can’t logically conclude the whole idea is false, just in your car. I’m still interested to hear what you find.

    Comment by Dan on July 24, 2008 @ 8:05 am
  6. Yes, I know that every car is different, which is why I somewhat narrowed my generalization to modern cars as opposed to all vehicles. I know that’s still a broad assumption, but I think there’s truth in it.

    Comment by Cameron on July 24, 2008 @ 8:46 am
  7. It’s way too broad. If I find that driving slowly reduces fuel consumption and you find it doesn’t, what are we to conclude? :)

    Comment by Dan on July 24, 2008 @ 12:40 pm
  8. With a sample size of 2 and those outcomes, then you’d be absolutely right that I was way too broad. :)

    However, (and this would be impossible to get and verify, I admit), if you got together a large sample (say 50-100) of 4 or 6 cylinder cars (not trucks) 5 yrs old or newer (which is my assumption), and you followed my driving pattern, speed wouldn’t be a big factor.

    But, since it’s impossible to prove me wrong or right, we’ll take my earlier statement and apply it only to me and my car and my driving pattern and let people come to their own conclusions to my statement. I would be interested though to see what others see in mpg improvements by just slowing down a bit on the freeway. I’ll report later when I’m done with my <=65 test.

    Comment by Cameron on July 25, 2008 @ 7:21 am
  9. It is hard to maintain low speeds unless you’re in a controlled environment. When everyone’s going 70+, I will usually go at least 65, if not 70. I’m still curious to see what you find in your test.

    Comment by Dan on July 25, 2008 @ 8:18 am
  10. Well, I finally filled up last night. The result?

    31.35 mpg. It’s better than normal, but not by tons – maybe by .6 – 1 mpg. But I also determined it’s somewhat of a lousy test because there are so many variables. For instance, I had cruise control pegged at exactly 65 for about 95% of the time I was on the freeway; I greatly limited AC on inclines, and I think I may have done a bit more freeway-driving than before. I decided the only way to really run a good test is to stick the car on a track at a constant speed for some X number of miles, and then repeat it at the second speed, with all other conditions being the same.

    However, all is not lost. During the test, I was generally a lot calmer driving – but I have to leave fairly early to be able to stick at 65 (sometimes, it’s just not safe to maintain a constant speed). But I was usually able to leave it on CC at 65 my whole freeway time. Second, I think I’m ok driving slower in general. Today on my way to work, where I had my freedom back, I drove only a little over 70, instead of at 80.

    Comment by Cameron on August 5, 2008 @ 6:46 am
  11. @Cameron Thanks for sharing your results. I just filled up this morning and got 24.5 (compared to my 25.1) which is still significantly above the average 22.4. I have also found that I am more calm when driving. If I’m behind a slow vehicle, that allows me to accelerate slowly and save gas instead of speeding around them, only to hit the next red light.

    Also, in regards to the ideal speed on the freeway, I think it depends on your car’s RPMs in 5th gear and where it’s most efficient. I’ve heard 2500RPM is a good spot, and at 55-60mph, my RPMs are right at 2500. So if your Accord is at 2500 at 70, that’s probably the sweet spot for fuel efficiency. It’s just a theory, but I think it has some truth to it.

    Drive safely :)

    Comment by Dan on August 5, 2008 @ 8:47 am
  12. One more technique which I’ve been using – and which I have been informed is illegal in my state – is to put it in neutral or put in the clutch when going down hills and coming up to stops. I’m not talking about turning off the engine (no power brakes or steering!) – just coasting whenever possible. I’m also not talking abut going down I-70 from Eisenhower tunnel in neutral, either – might be going 150mph by the first big turn! Since I started doing this, in addition to slowing down, using the cruise control, timing stop lights, keeping tires at max inflation, etc. I’ve logged an average of 30mpg in my 2001 Maxima – and that’s mostly suburban driving.

    Comment by tony grieder on August 8, 2008 @ 2:44 pm
  13. I saw that mileage you’ve been getting. That’s fantastic! I’ve heard rumors it’s illegal to coast in neutral too, but I don’t understand why. Plus, how could anyone tell you’re doing it unless they’re in the car with you?

    Comment by Dan on August 8, 2008 @ 3:27 pm
  14. I thought I saw this horse moving, so I’ll beat it again ;). My last two tanks have been 31 and 31.4 mpg and that’s with “whatever” driving, be it 80, 70, 60 or something else. Basically, it means that there’s no good test and I should just drive whatever.

    Comment by Cameron on September 12, 2008 @ 5:57 pm
  15. Whatever works ;)

    Comment by Dan on September 12, 2008 @ 7:33 pm
  16. […] Become a hypermiler Taking a few steps to improve your gas mileage can ease the burden of higher gas prices and […]

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