With gas prices soaring higher than ever, there's a lot of information—true and false—floating around about fuel economy. From well-intentioned friends to salespeople trying to make a buck, everyone has an opinion on how you can use less gas. Thankfully, the Department of Energy has solid facts based on data that will help you sort out the reality from the myth. Check out FuelEconomy.gov for even more tips.
Just the facts…
- The best device for improving your fuel economy is a tire gauge.
There are all sorts of products out there that claim they can help improve your fuel economy, from inserts for your exhaust pipe to magnets clamped on the fuel line. While none these devices significantly improve fuel economy, some of them may actually damage your vehicle or increase its emissions! On the other hand, using a pressure gauge to ensure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3%.
- Regular gasoline is just as fuel efficient as premium gasoline.
Unless your vehicle is specifically designed to run on premium fuel, filling your tank with it won't benefit your fuel economy. Consult your owner's manual to see whether premium is recommended and under what conditions (e.g., towing).
- Your vehicle should maintain its fuel economy over many years if you keep it maintained.
A vehicle's fuel economy should actually improve over the first few years of ownership, which is why the Environmental Protection Agency tests vehicles with an equivalent of 5,000 miles on the odometer. If you keep your vehicle properly maintained, you can save just as much fuel at the ten year anniversary as you did in the first year. On the other hand, tuning up a vehicle that is drastically out-of-tune can improve your fuel economy by 4%.
- Choosing a fuel efficient vehicle that meets your needs doesn't have to be hard.
FuelEconomy.gov's Find a Car tool makes it simple to find a car that suits your lifestyle. The Search by Market Class option helps you find the most efficient cars in each class, whether you need a pick-up truck or coupe. With both a Web and mobile version, this tool is available at your fingertips, any time, anywhere.
- You can improve your fuel economy for free.
Driving more efficiently is free and can actually save you quite a bit at the pump. Accelerating and braking smoothly, observing the speed limit, avoiding idling, and removing unnecessary weight can improve your fuel economy by up to a third, depending on your current driving habits.
Shannon Brescher Shea is the communications coordinator for Clean Cities in the Vehicle Technologies Program of EERE.