Save Money on Gas: How I Increased My Gas Mileage by almost 26%
Article by Patti Tokar Canton
A few years ago, when gas prices were rising rapidly, I decided to see if I could increase the gas mileage in my car.
Several factors had come together to motivate me: For starters, the cost of gas was rising sharply, the miles per gallon in my car was annoyingly low, and I had just read a Consumer's Report article on gas mileage.
The final motivation came when I was driving my teenaged son, Sam, to school. "Mom!" he said with a patronizing voice of controlled annoyance, "Why do you accelerate and wait until the last second to brake at stop signs?" I indignantly replied that I did not! The other kids in the car naively agreed with Sam. Grrr.
I then spent a few minutes thinking about how I had taught this audacious kid to drive and now he thought it was okay to make comments about my driving. Of course I didn't brake at the last second.
After that I started paying attention. More often than I realized, I really did keep accelerating up to stop signs and stop lights and then braked almost hard to stop. Hmmm.
When I read a Consumer Reports article on ways to drive to save money on gas, I decided to try my own experiments. I have regularly kept track of my gas mileage and I was consistently getting a little over 19 mpg in my 2004 Lexus ES330. Could I improve that? Without spending any money?
The answer was yes. With about a month of experimenting and learning new driving habits, I was able to increase my mileage from around 19 mpg to a little over 24 mpg. I've consistently kept it there, and kept the same car, for the last 4 years. That's an increase of 5 miles per gallon, or 26%. I estimated that it saved about 164 gallons of gas a year (I was putting 15,000 miles a year on my car driving my kids to/from school), or a savings of about $410.00 to $500.00 a year, depending on the price of gas.
(Side note: The US Dept of Energy has a website tool which estimates what the average mpg should be for your vehicle. According to the site, the combined city/highway mileage of my car should be 21 mpg.)
With gas prices spiking again,it seems the perfect time to share what I did and also my research on other methods that might help you. Perhaps you will be able to use one or more of these methods and enjoy better gas mileage and save money on gas as a result.
One thing that I noticed was that changing my driving habits to get better gas mileage naturally made me a better, more alert driver. I had to pay attention to approaching stop signs, be aware of the speed of the car ahead of me, and in general be very "in the moment" with how much pressure I was putting on the accelerator, how often and how hard I was using the brakes, and with constant awareness of the road conditions and surrounding traffic. While that sounds a little exhausting to communicate, it actually has become a natural, smooth habit that not only is easy, but is interesting, too.
Since I tried all of the following tips in various combinations, I am not able to tell you how much any single one improved my mileage. When possible, I put a note at the end of each method to inform you of my research and what the experts estimate or recommend.
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