Improving Gas Mileage

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
October 28, 2008

Lighten the Fuel Load

Lighten the Fuel Load

A recent CNN report stated that airlines are reducing fuel costs by lightening airplanes. Drinking glasses have been replaced by plastic ones, and any unnecessary item such as an old cooking oven in the stewards' area has been removed. By replacing beverage/meal carts with newer, lighter carts, US Airways estimates that it will save $1.7 million a year on this weight reduction alone.

I, like most reading this article, do not own a jumbo jet. However, I do own a gas guzzling SUV, so the empathy with the airlines is still there. Airlines claim that jet fuel prices have doubled in the past six months. Gasoline prices aren't far behind that. If American Airlines can save 111 million gallons of fuel a year by lightening their flying loads, than I can do the same with the family vehicle.

Eliminate Dead Weight

It makes sense. The more weight you carry on four tires, the more fuel is needed to get to your destination. Start with the dead weight in the carómost likely in the trunk. Some of us travel around with our life stories in the trunk of our cars. There are strollers, gym bags, golf clubs, fishing equipment, coolers for grocery stops, and even dog crates stored back there. How often do you use the items? If you won't use it this trip, leave it at home. Like the spare microwave that used to weigh down the jumbo jet ìjust in caseî, your trunk junk is costing you fuel miles.

Evaluate the Cargo

Once the obvious dead weight is gone from your vehicle, look in the passenger area for extra cargo. The small library of books I keep in the back seat to entertain my son weighs six pounds. If Jet Blue replaced a snack bag of cookies, crackers, and spreadable cheese with a bag of light cracker crisps to save fuel costs, my six pound library pile can be reduced as well.

The mini suitcase of CDs, the extra blanket in the back of the van, even the beach sized umbrella shoved under the back seat can all stay at home if they're going to cost me fuel.

Take a Direct Flight

The last step airlines have taken is to make more direct flights and fill their planes with fare paying passengers as much as possible, a further emphasis on old practices. Taking this into consideration, we've eliminated the scenic routes of our journeys and paid more attention to planning logical errand routes that don't waste miles. Carpooling is the answer to filling the seats and sharing the fuel burden.

My lighter load may not have the impact on my SUV as it did on airplanes, but the plan can't go wrong. If I'm not saving enough fuel to count the monetary savings, I am saving a tiny fraction of the resource. Every tiny bit helps the environment. Even if my fuel consumption is nil, I'm still riding around in a cleaner car.

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May 24, 2011

My grandson told me the other day, "You know Momow, I raised my gas level in my tank the other day by simply putting air in my tires. It works!"


April 22, 2004

Fill your gas tank in the morning or when it is the coolest. The gas doesn't expand as much when it is cool so you get more gas per gallon. That's why they say don't 'top off' your tank especially on hot days or it will come out of the gas cap if you fill up and just park the car.




June 30, 2006

Whether you drive an economy car or an SUV, there are plenty of ways to improve your gas mileage. Avoid aggressive driving and observe the speed limit. Speeding, fast acceleration, and hard braking wastes gas.



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

November 25, 2007

With gas prices soaring, what are others doing to reduce the use of gas? I have cut way back on driving places. I make a circle of my errands I have to run. I try not to back track at all. I have emptied my trunk of everything. Even my spare tire, I know that sounds a little crazy, but I have roadside assistance and they can tow me to the nearest repair shop and I can get the spare to them. I am making an effort to park in spaces that don't require me to "back out" of them. I can simply put forward and drive off.

I try not to go below 3/4 of a tank of gas. Then it does not hurt quite so much when I gas up. I have been averaging about 25 mpg in my car. But I hope to do better by using these tactics. So what are others doing? I don't work out of the home so I maybe able to use just one tank of gas a month. I have to take DH to the VA clinic that is 50 miles one way about once every other month. I have to do everything I can to save on this expense!

JONNIE from Utica


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November 26, 20070 found this helpful

I use half a tank of middle grade gas mixed with the lower price when traveling a far distance and leave earlier and drive slower.
Also, buying gas when it's early of a morning or late at night and the middle of the week. Seems like gas prices are raised toward the weekend in our area and having a large gas can or two on hand to keep filled helps a little bit. At the time it seems like a lot to buy, but when you have to pay higher prices for a fill up, that's when the cost cutter idea kicks in and is appreciated.


Short trips to town are cut down as I wait until there are several errands to run and then decide which places in order of saving gas and it also helps the wear and tear on the vehicle. I have a car that is economical on miles per gallon of gas and that helps.

By (Guest Post)
November 28, 20070 found this helpful

I drive about 400 miles a week. We live out in the sticks, and trust me, I have to make my mileage last. Maybe not so much mileage, but to save on cost. I fill up at half tank. People are right, gas prices are outrageous. I drive as close to a circle as I can, but that is not always possible. So, for errands I have to run (shopping, bill paying, etc) I try to make them as close to the appts as I can. Both in date, and in area. I also stay home when I am not driving, meaning, I don't do much 'pleasure driving'.

Tune ups, check tire inflation, basic at home maintenance, and good old common logic also help.

By Anna (Guest Post)
November 29, 20070 found this helpful

check for your area for the some of the lowest gas prices near your home

By Kathy (Guest Post)
November 30, 20070 found this helpful

I've heard that the speeds you drive and how fast you accelerate after a stop has a significant impact on your gas mileage. In my state the speed limit is 75 on the interstate and most everyone drives 80+. This kills your gas mileage. Between 55-65 is ideal.

Also, don't "gun it" after a stop sign or stop light. These quick accelerations are hard on gas. Instead accelerate smoothly and evenly after a stop. I'm 27 yrs old and have been driving like this for as long as I can remember. I don't care that people behind me are in such a hurry that they have to "gun it" only to end up with me at the next stop light.

Also, I just read that using cruise control on the highways or interstates also lead to better gas mileage than if you were to not use it in those instances. Sounds like you are already doing a lot of smart things -- good luck!

November 30, 20070 found this helpful

Regarding the use of A/C, recent research shows that at speeds above about 40-50 mph it is actually cheaper to run the A/C with the windows up because of decreased wind resistance. There are a bunch of web sites documenting that.

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September 4, 2013

I have installed several hho generators. They all produce gas, but I don't get any better mpg.
If you can help, I would appreciate any advice.


By Rob from Norwalk, CT


September 6, 20130 found this helpful

There are some cars it can't work in.

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