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8 Ways to Get Better Gas Mileage and Fuel Economy

Why spend more at the gas pump when you can easily spend less? Follow these simple tips and you’ll see a noticeable difference in your fuel costs.

Save Money on Gas by Driving Slower

Hard acceleration in stop-and-go driving costs you 20 per cent in gas mileage. If you live your life in rush hour traffic and like to put the pedal to the metal, spend all your extra time at the next stoplight figuring out how you could have spent the money you’re wasting.

Get Better Gas Mileage by Keeping Your Tires at the Right Pressure

Surveys show that 60 per cent of the vehicles on the road have tires that are underinflated by at least 30 percent. That’s at least 9 psi below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. That can cost you almost 7 per cent in wasted fuel. Plus, low air pressure causes premature tire wear, and that can cost almost $300 over the life of the tires. For best results, check your tire’s air pressure with a digital pressure gauge (about $10 at any auto parts store ) and fill to the recommended pressure shown on the decal inside the driver’s door or on the driver’s door pillar.

Save on Fuel by Changing Spark Plugs

If your 160,000-km spark plugs have 130,000 km on them, they’re 80 per cent worn. Misfires and incomplete combustion occur more frequently during that last 32,000 km, costing you hundreds of dollars in wasted fuel. You have to replace your spark plugs anyway, so do it early and pocket the savings. Even if you have to replace the plugs one extra time over the life of your car, you’ll still come out way ahead. And don’t automatically assume your plugs are good for 160,000 km. Many four-cylinder engines require new spark plugs at either 50,000- or 100,000-km intervals.

Get Better Gas Mileage by Changing Your Air Filter

Your engine sucks in 53 million litres of air through the filter every year. On older vehicles (pre-1999), a dirty air filter increases fuel usage by almost 10 per cent. On newer vehicles, the computer is smart enough to detect the lower airflow, and it cuts back on fuel. So your engine will lack power and pick-up. Check the filter when you change your oil and replace it at least once a year, or more if you drive in dirty, dusty conditions.

Get Better Gas Mileage by Keeping Your Car Aligned

If your tires are bowed out of alignment by just 4.2 cm, it’s the equivalent of dragging your tire sideways for 164 km for every 32,000 you drive. That’ll cost you hundreds a year in wasted gas. It will also wear your tires faster, costing you hundreds more.

Here’s an easy way to check your alignment without taking your car in to the shop. Buy a tread depth gauge ($2) and measure the tread depth on both edges of each tire (rear tires too). If one side of the tire is worn more than the other, your car needs to be aligned.

Get Better Gas Mileage by Replacing a Broken or Missing Spoiler

The plastic air dam (aka “spoiler”) that’s broken or missing wasn’t installed just for a sporty look. If your car had an air dam, driving without it or with a damaged one can reduce your gas mileage. The air dam literally “dams off” airflow to the undercarriage of your car, forcing the air up and over the hood. That helps your car cut through the air with less drag. It also increases airflow to the A/C condenser and radiator, reducing the load on your car’s electrical system . Contact a junkyard or visit certifit.com to get a replacement air dam.

Get Better Gas Mileage by Reducing Drag

Yes, you’ve heard it before, but how about some real world numbers to drive the point home? Aerodynamic drag is a minor concern in city driving, but it really kills your gas mileage at speeds over 90 km/h. In fact, increasing your speed to 65 increases drag by 36 per cent! If you do a lot of highway driving, getting to your destination a few minutes early could cost you hundreds of dollars extra a year. Keep it closer to 90 km/h and use your cruise control. It will pay off.

Save in Car Maintenance Fees by Replacing Oxygen Sensors

Oxygen sensors monitor the efficiency of combustion by tracking the amount of oxygen remaining in the exhaust. But they degrade over time and that can cost you up to 15 per cent in gas mileage. When they fail, the computer lights up your “service engine soon” light, forcing you to incur a diagnostic fee. On pre-1996 vehicles, replace your oxygen sensor every 96,000 km to keep your mileage at its peak. On 1996 and newer vehicles, replace the sensors every 160,000 km. Oxygen sensors cost about $60 each. Some vehicles have as many as four, but the sensors installed behind the catalytic converter rarely fail.