While gas mileage has always been one of the factors that influenced a car buyer’s decision, in the last few years it has become an extremely important factor with the large jump in gasoline prices. The fact is however that no matter what the card manufacturer says about the mpg that their particular model will give you, one of the most important influencing factors for gas mileage is the one that’s completely different from automobile to automobile; the driver.
With that in mind we put together a bit of a “cheat sheet” that should help you determine which car driving tactics are the best ones to really increase your car’s mpg and save you money at the pumps, and also how to determine which car will give you the best mpg. Enjoy.
- Driving Style and Highway Speed.
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “your mileage may vary” and the reason that it may very is your driving style and the speed you drive your vehicle on the highway. If you really want to save as much money as possible on gas you need to accelerate up to speed smoothly, keep your eyes on the road a few cars ahead to know when you should ease off the gas and coast.
Smooth and efficient driving is great but when you’re on the highway you can save even more money by keeping your car at a reasonable speed. The reason is that, above approximately 45 mph, the air resistance that your car faces to go forward uses up a tremendous amount of gas. Once you hit 65 miles an hour you’re already using approximately 25% more gas per mile to move your car forward. Basically, speeding is one of the worst offenders when it comes to gasoline waste.
- Switching a low mpg vehicle for a higher one saves you more money than switching a high mpg vehicle for a higher one.
If this one sounds a little confusing don’t be embarrassed because most Americans get it completely backwards as well. Here’s the thing; if you have a gas guzzler that gets 10 miles to the gallon and you switch to a newer car that gets 20 mpg you’re going to save approximately 10 gallons of gas every hundred miles. On the other hand, if you have a car that already gets 33 mpg and you switch to a hybrid that gets 50 mpg you’re only going to save about 1 gallon every hundred miles. Get the picture? Sure, that hybrid is going to save you a lot of gas money but not as much as you might think if your car is already getting great mileage.
- Today’s new car, no matter the model, gets better gas mileage than the exact same model from 10 years ago.
A few years back the federal regulations for average fuel economy finally kicked into effect and car manufacturers were forced to make drastic changes in their vehicles to produce higher MPG. Over the next 12 years gas mileage (at least for new U.S. cars) must rise to an average of nearly 55 mpg by the year 2025, a number that will translate to approximately 42 mpg on your new cars window sticker. Indeed, the gas mileage of today’s new cars has never been higher and even though the 42 mpg number is still lower than some of the top hybrid cars, it applies to all motor vehicles including pickup trucks.
- The mileage of your car gets in the “real world” and its EPA rating are usually quite different.
As we mentioned earlier, your mileage may vary and, with most cars, it usually does. The difference between the EPA number and your real-world results however can vary quite a bit between different brands and models. For example, Honda has one of the best EPA combined ratings and is slightly ahead of Toyota but both are far better than Ford, even when you compare their 2013 hybrids as well as their Eco-Boost models.
The best way to determine the actual mpg that your car will deliver is to compare the window sticker number two the rating for your particular model on Fuelly.com and also on the EPA’s FuelEconomy.gov site. This can make a huge difference as, for example, if the card you are buying is rated at 30 mpg but only gives you 24 in the real world, every two years you’ll be spending an extra $1000 if you pay $4 a gallon for gasoline.
Hopefully our cheat sheet has given you a better idea of what you can do to not only save money on gas but also determine which car will give you the best mpg. With gas prices high and not looking to go down anytime soon (or ever) the make and model of car you purchase can have a huge impact on your budget so make sure you choose wisely.