4 Easy Ways To Improve Fuel Economy Without Spending a Penny

As anyone interesting in buying or leasing a car knows, automakers tout fuel economy as one of the most important selling features of any new vehicle — and for good reason. Cars with higher MPG make for less-expensive driving and can shield car owners from fluctuations in gas prices. But you don’t have to buy a new car, much less a hybrid or all-electric one, to improve fuel economy. You can improve the mpg of the car you already own, without spending a penny, by following these tips!

Use Cruise Control (Except on Hills)

Using cruise control almost always improves mpg on the highway, and the fuel economy benefits can be large. Research published in the International Journal of Transportation Science and Technology reported that fuel savings could be upward of 10% for some makes and models.

Cruise control eliminates unnecessary fuel consumption from the natural and mostly-unconscious variations in pressure drivers put on the accelerator. In other words, we humans can’t stop ourselves from speeding up and slowing down, and those changes in speed add up to lower mpg. (This is also why The Department of Energy’s fueleconomy.gov website recommends against hard acceleration and braking.)

But beware! While cruise control has significant benefits on flat roads and downhills — easy if your road trip takes you west out of Kansas City — it burns more fuel than a human driver on uphill and hilly sections of road. Disengage cruise control whenever you start to climb a hill but keep it on everywhere else when it’s safe to do so, and you’ll see an improvement in your mpg. 

Lose the Roof Rack When You Don’t Need It

Auto engineers spend years tweaking the aerodynamics of new models to maximize fuel efficiency and handling. A roof rack can throw all of those complicated calculations out the window by changing the airflow around a vehicle and reducing its mpg. 

Research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy estimates an after-market roof rack can account for nearly 1% of the fuel consumed by the average car or light truck. That might be a worthwhile trade-off when you have a lot of gear to take with you on a road trip, but it represents pure waste when you drive around with an empty rack or roof-top box. Losing the rack when you don’t need it will save you at the pump!

Empty Your Trunk

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry trade group, every 100 pounds of weight a car carries reduces its fuel efficiency by 2%.

Now, go open your trunk. If there’s nothing in there but a kit for emergencies, a spare tire, and what you need for your trip today, good for you. If you’re like most of us, however, you will find items you carry around with you that you don’t need. Every ounce of those items leads to lower fuel economy and wasted money. Next time you head out on the road, do it with a clean trunk.

Keep Your Tires Inflated to The Recommended PSI

(This last one is such a simple fix, we almost feel guilty listing it as a tip.)

Under-inflated tires cause a car to have lower fuel economy, while also making the vehicle more prone to tire blow-outs and flats. The Government Accounting Office, the legislative branch’s non-partisan research arm, reported in 2007 that a quarter of all cars and a third of light trucks and SUVs on U.S. roads have tires inflated to less than the recommended pressure. Add all those under-inflated tires up and you get Americans wasting an estimated 1.2 billion gallons of fuel each year. That’s a lot, if we do say so ourselves.

So, check your tire pressure monthly and anytime the temperature around Kansas City drops. A quick trip to the air pump or a blast from your home air compressor can help you improve mpg by up to 15%.

Shop Our High-MPG Vehicles

If you simply can’t get your fuel economy into the 21st-century range, consider replacing your old car with a newer model. Visit our used car lot near Kansas City to browse our pre-owned vehicles with high mpg ratings. With late-model cars under $15k and certified used SUVs available for sale, McCarthy Pre-Owned Supercenter has the selection you need to remove gas stations from the equation. Contact our Blue Springs used car dealership at 816-224-7500 to schedule a test drive today.