I started thinking of ways I have used to improve the mileage in my vehicles and a couple of things quickly come to mind. Its not an extensive list but just some common things you may have forgotten or just needed the reminder to help yourself a bit.
First, check those tires for proper inflation. After a long winter pull out that tire pressure gauge and see where they are at and put the gauge in a convenient place to remind yourself to check often. Fill them to the manufacturers recommended maximum for the best lift and mileage.
When was the last time you had the filters changed and general maintenance done on the car? A dirty air filter or worn emission systems or dirty fuel injectors can significantly decrease your mileage.
How much extra weight do you have in the car? I have a vehicle with a trailer hitch and I removed it and put it in the garage and only use it when required. That hitch weighs about 10 pounds and think how much gas it would add to a trip when I didn’t need it! Look in the trunk for those items you “forgot” to remove and get that weight out of there.
Did you know that using the air conditioner on the interstate highways is more fuel efficient than having the windows open? With the windows open you create extensive wind drag on the vehicle and it uses more gas! We traveled extensively at night and early morning to avoid the heat of the day which improves the kids time in the hotel pool and limits the number of hours with the air conditioning running. Also, around town trips at slower speeds are better with the air off and windows down as there is less drag.
How about that long line at the drive through window? You can sit in the line idling and reducing your miles per gallon or pull into a spot and turn off the motor. In a hurry? Take the food to go but don’t sit in line with your car running. Planning to go shopping at the same time? Make one trip, do a list and avoid multiple trips.
Does the car need to be washed and waxed? Spend a little elbow grease and get better mileage! That wash and wax job can save around 5% of your gas on a long trip at higher highway speeds (due to less drag–the pilot language always comes back). So maybe the last thing you should do before pulling out on that PCS is driving through the local car wash.
Have a cruise control? Use it on flat terrain and it will improve your mileage but on hills or mountains it will drop you down a gear to accelerate quicker than you would and decrease your mileage. Try to stay in the highest gear possible and no quick downshifts to high engine rpm on that tach!
When I am on a long trip I like to track my “instant mileage” on the vehicle’s data. Many cars have them and it helps me remember how much the gas cost at the last fillup and makes me less aggressive and drive smoother to save that precious gold in the gas tank!