You may think that your vehicle’s fuel economy is set, based on its combined MPG rating.
But did you know that how you drive, as well as how you maintain your vehicle, can make a big difference in your vehicle’s fuel consumption?
Use the following tips to help maximize your fuel economy:
FUEL-EFFICIENT DRIVING TIPS
Drive smoothly (up to 33%)
Aggressive driving wastes fuel—especially while driving at highway speeds. So accelerate smoothly, brake softer and earlier, and stay in one lane while it’s safe to do so. Not only do these driving techniques save fuel, they can also prolong the life of your brakes and tires.
Slow down (up to 25%)
Speeding wastes lots of fuel. Your fuel mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. That equates to paying an additional 26 cents per gallon for every 5 mph above 50 that you drive.
Only use A/C on the highway (up to 15%)
Your fuel economy drops when you use the air conditioner at low speeds—by up to 15%. So if it isn’t too hot, turn off the A/C around town, and roll down your windows instead. However, at 55 mph or higher, using the A/C is preferable to open windows for two reasons: Your vehicle has much lower wind resistance with the windows closed. And because the engine makes more power at higher revs, it’s able to run accessories like the A/C compressor more efficiently.
Remove the rooftop carrier (up to 5%)
Your vehicle was designed for good aerodynamics—but attaching a huge carrier or bike to the roof adds more wind resistance. So if you spend lots of time on the highway or are planning a long trip, try to transport extra items inside the vehicle, or attached to the rear. Washing and waxing your vehicle can actually lower wind resistance too.
Remove excess weight (up to 4% for every 100 pounds)
Carrying around an extra 100 pounds in your trunk or back seat can reduce your mileage by up to 4%. To travel as light as possible, keep only the most important items (like an emergency kit, jumper cables, a small toolset, and a small jack) in the vehicle.
Keep the convertible top up (up to 4%)
As much fun as your convertible is, you should put the top up during highway trips. You’ll have less wind resistance, less turbulence, and a better hairdo.
Keep the windows and sunroof closed (up to 4%)
Take advantage of mild weather by leaving the A/C off, using vent air, and keeping the windows and sunroof closed. You will have less drag, and better fuel economy.
Use cruise control
Activating your cruise helps you save fuel in two ways: It keeps you from mindlessly driving at faster—and less fuel-efficient—speeds. And it maintains a constant speed, and won’t use additional fuel while accelerating.
Note that many modern vehicles will let you monitor your miles per gallon while you’re driving. Try to set your cruise control at your vehicle’s most fuel-efficient speed, as long as it’s at or below the legal limit.
Stay in gear when stopping
While shifting into Neutral and coasting to a stop sounds like it would save fuel, the opposite is true: Many modern fuel-injected vehicles go into a “fuel cutoff” mode when the engine senses that the vehicle is in gear, the rpm is above idle, and the throttle is closed. Shifting to Neutral may cancel that mode, so keep it in gear.
Turn off the engine while waiting
If your non-hybrid vehicle is safely parked, and will be stopped for more than a couple of minutes, turn off the engine. This is even more effective if your vehicle is powered by a large 6- or 8-cylinder engine, as they typically will waste more fuel at idle than smaller engines.
Your engine is more efficient when it’s warmed up. Many short trips that start with a cool engine will use more fuel than a single, longer trip. So when you have to drive for errands, get as many accomplished as you can in one trip to maximize your fuel economy.
FUEL-EFFICIENT MAINTENANCE TIPS
Keep your engine tuned (up to 40%)
Fixing a vehicle that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve fuel mileage by an average of 4%. But here’s the real bonus—replacing a malfunctioning oxygen sensor can improve your mileage by as much as 40%.
Keep your tires properly inflated (up to 4%)
Properly inflated tires are safer, handle better, last longer, and get better fuel economy. The operating vehicle tire inflation pressure can be found on a Certification Decal or Tire Decal, usually located on the driver’s door, a door pillar, or the glove box. But don’t exceed the operating tire pressure either, because overinflated tires can cause problems as well.
Use the recommended grade of motor oil (up to 2%)
Following the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil in your Owner’s Guide will keep your engine’s lubrication system as efficient as possible. Using the wrong grade of oil can drop your fuel economy by up to 2%.
All the little things can add up (up to 25% combined)
The technicians at your local Ford dealership are trained to optimize your fuel economy. Along with the above-mentioned maintenance, they can change worn fuel filters and spark plugs, perform wheel alignments, and inspect your exhaust and emissions systems. Together, all of these vehicle maintenance procedures can improve your mileage by up to 25%.
FUEL-EFFICIENT MAINTENANCE TIPS
Tighten the fuel cap
Your fuel tank needs both fuel and fumes for your engine to work most efficiently. So if your vehicle has a fuel cap, make sure to tighten it all the way after every fill-up. Many modern vehicles will turn on the check engine light if they detect a bad seal at the fuel cap.
Use the correct octane
Your vehicle operates most efficiently on the recommended fuel octane listed in your Owner’s Guide. Always use the recommended octane; using a higher octane than called for is usually more expensive, and most vehicles won’t benefit from it.
Sources: www.fueleconomy.gov, www.epa.gov, www.drivingskillsforlife.com.
DOES YOUR ENGINE NEED SERVICE?
Keeping your engine in top shape will help it run better, last longer, and may use less fuel. So if you see any of the following symptoms, schedule a service appointment with your local Ford dealership immediately:
- The dashboard engine icon doesn’t light up when you start the vehicle
- The dashboard engine icon lights up and doesn’t turn off after the engine starts
- You experience hard starting, or rough idling and driving
- You smell fuel when the engine is running
- You see fluids leaking from the engine
- You see visible damage to engine components
- You hear loud engine noises
- You see smoke coming from under the hood