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5 Things That Cause Poor Gas Mileage (And 4 Ways to Fix it)

If you’re looking for ways to tighten your monthly budget, there’s an unexpected place you…

  • December 15, 2020

If you’re looking for ways to tighten your monthly budget, there’s an unexpected place you can look: Your garage. It’s time to take a look at the way you drive and take care of your vehicle, according to Erie Insurance Group.

Improving your gas mileage (also known as miles per gallon or MPG) is one way to start.

Erie Insurance helps you identify what may be causing poor gas mileage in your vehicle, and four ways to fix it, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and Consumer Reports.

Regardless of what kind of vehicle you drive, all of these factors can negatively impact gas mileage:

Speed: The faster you drive, the more fuel your vehicle burns up. This includes how fast you accelerate, too.

Idling: Keeping your car on for it to warm up or cool down, waiting in line at a drive-thru or waiting to pick your kid up from soccer practice can all decrease your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Aerodynamic drag and excess weight: Driving too fast or traveling with a rooftop cargo carrier? These can increase wind resistance, which causes your vehicle to use more gas. And towing any kind of trailer or hauling too much in your trunk, bed or back seat also requires more fuel.

Poor maintenance: From underinflated tires to an unattended engine issue, failure to consistently “tune up” your vehicle can cost you a lot more at the pump. It also can create potential safety risks.

Quick trips: A quick run to the supermarket on Monday. Stopping by the bank on Wednesday. While it may be convenient to run these errands one at a time, it can wreak havoc on your fuel economy. Quick, short trips like this from a “cold start” eat up fuel because your engine needs to warm up before it can run efficiently.

How can you improve your MPG?

Drive more efficiently: Follow the speed limit, and drive sensibly, not aggressively (e.g. quick accelerations, hard stops, etc.). On the highway, don’t speed up and slow down (unless you need to for safety). Once you get up to speed, stay there. Use cruise control when possible.

Keep your car in shape: Make sure your engine is tuned, keep tires properly inflated and use the right grade of motor oil. Check out 9 Things You Should Never Do to Your Car for basic car-care tips.

Plan and combine trips: Spend less time sitting in traffic by avoiding rush hour on daily commutes.  Run all your errands on one day rather than taking multiple short trips during the week. If you have an especially long commute, ask your employer if you can work from home a day or two per week.

Opt for a more fuel-efficient vehicle: If your budget allows it, consider purchasing a vehicle that touts better MPG than your current one.

Upgrading to a car that gets 30 MPG, compared to one that gets 20 MPG, can save you $545 in fuel costs a year (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $2.18).

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