Driving Tips to Help You Increase Gas Mileage

Because who doesn’t want to save money?


Your car isn’t the only factor that directly impacts how much gasoline you use (and pay for) each year—it’s also how you drive.

Fuel is the second biggest cost of owning a car, according to AAA research. But there are ways to use less. Simply driving sensibly—avoiding rapid acceleration and braking, for example—can save you up to 40 percent on gas in stop-and-go traffic, according to fueleconomy.gov.

Here are driving tips to help you increase gas mileage—which, in return, will save you money at the pump:

Accelerate gradually

Avoid “jackrabbit” starts, but don’t accelerate too slowly.

illustration of a foot lightly on the gas petal of a car. iStock

Pro tip: Drive like there’s an egg on the gas pedal—press evenly and gently on the accelerator to avoid breaking the egg.

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Watch your speed

Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. Reducing highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by 7 to 14 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov.

Be consistent

Tests have shown that using cruise control when driving on level highway roads can save gas. That’s because maintaining a constant speed requires less accelerating and braking. Just remember to avoid using cruise control on wet or slippery roads.

Lose unnecessary vehicle weight

Estimate how much gas your vehicle will use on a road trip with the AAA Gas Cost Calculator.

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Every pound of unnecessary stuff in your car reduces fuel economy, and rooftop carriers multiply the effect with additional wind resistance. If you’re not using that bike rack and don’t need that box of old books, leave them at home to increase gas mileage.

Anticipate stops

Stay aware of traffic ahead of you; when you anticipate you’ll need to stop, let your foot off the gas as early as possible (using brakes as necessary to let other motorists know your intentions). Time stoplights to maintain momentum and avoid unnecessary stop and go.

Illustration of a taxi traveling down a street. iStock

Pro-tip: Using a prepaid pass on toll roads can help avoid stops and increase gas mileage, too.

Avoid excessive idling

Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and whether you’re using the air conditioner, according to fueleconomy.gov. Avoid long warm-ups in the morning, and when safe to do so, shut off your engine if you’ll be stopped for more than a minute.

At AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, members get a free vehicle maintenance inspection, 10 percent off labor (up to $50) and a 24-month, 24,000-mile guarantee on repairs.

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Combine errands into one trip

Getting more things done in one outing can help increase gas mileage. Also consider what time you’re heading out—avoiding stop-and-go rush hour traffic can save you time and money.

Bonus tip: Give your car some TLC

These don’t involve driving, but good habits in maintaining your car can help increase gas mileage. Reduce fuel economy by maintaining recommended tire pressure, keeping the air filter clean and replacing exhaust oxygen sensors before they fail.

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