While the world-record of 3,145 miles per gallon car built by a team from the University of British Columbia is unavailable for purchase, as are solar cars that participate in the annual North American Solar Challenge, there are ways to get the best possible gas mileage out of your current car. Here are some tips:


While the world-record of 3,145 miles per gallon car built by a team from the University of British Columbia is unavailable for purchase, as are solar cars that participate in the annual North American Solar Challenge, there are ways to get the best possible gas mileage out of your current car. Here are some tips:

• Slow down — While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.

• Use cruise control — Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

• Use overdrive gears — When you use overdrive gearing, your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

• Keep your engine properly tuned — Fixing a car noticeably out of tune can improve mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing a serious maintenance problem can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent, depending on the problem.

• Check your tires — You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

• Check and replace air filters — Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car’s gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. Your car’s air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, it will protect your engine.

• Ditch the roof rack — A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs with a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by placing items inside the trunk whenever possible.

• Give yourself enough time — racing against the clock causes you to brake hard, accelerate quickly and drive too fast, all of which burn fuel needlessly. Listen to the radio for traffic reports on accidents, road construction and other trouble spots to avoid. You'll save time as well as gas.

• Don't drive aggressively — Besides being one of the leading causes of traffic accidents and fender benders, aggressive driving also can have a detrimental effect on your car’s gas mileage.

From hard breaking and quick accelerating to jerky steering and speeding, erratic driving can cause a serious drop in fuel efficiency. A European test showed aggressive driving – “jackrabbit” starts from traffic lights and hard braking — reduced travel time by only 4 percent (the equivalent of 21/2 minutes out of a 60–minute trip). However, fuel consumption increased by 37 percent.

• Avoid using air conditioning — Having your air conditioning on causes your engine to use more fuel than driving without it on. So, unless you absolutely need it, try to keep your air conditioning use to a minimum.

• Keep windows closed — Having your windows rolled down can greatly increase wind drag on your car - making your engine work harder to keep you at the same speed, reducing fuel efficiency.

• Find other ways to get there — Short trips can be especially hard on your pocketbook. Trips of less than five kilometers (3.1 miles) generally do not allow the engine to reach its peak operating temperature, especially in cold weather. That means fuel consumption and exhaust emissions will be significantly higher than when covering the same distance with a warm engine.

Sources: oee.nrcan.gc.ca; fueleconomy.gov, mahalo.com, forbes.com