First Person: Improved Gas Mileage Is Saving Me $50 a Month

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I drive a GMC pickup that gets about 17 miles per gallon on the highway, and closer to 12 miles per gallon in the city. I decided to try a few tricks to save on gas mileage and ended up increasing my gas mileage by almost three miles per gallon.

I Lightened Up

My initial fuel savings was good but I wasn't satisfied. I set out to take any unnecessary weight off my car. Extra weight means extra fuel to pull that weight around. I removed all unnecessay hardwares and took my toolbox out of the back. I considered removing my spare tire to save more weight but decided I had better keep that on for safety's sake. Just the toolbox alone, I removed close to 100 pounds that I was carrying around every day. The fuel savings from that part of my experiment was very little, however, it did save me about .05 mile per gallon.

Oil Changes and Tune-ups

The first thing I did was to ask for some advice from a mechanic. He asked me when the last time I gave my truck a tune-up. To be honest, it had been quite a few years. He recommended that I change the spark plugs and air filter. He also recommended that I upgrade to premium motor oil. After a day in the garage my car was running much smoother and not struggling as hard while accelerating.

Another trick I picked up on at the mechanic's shop was to try not to use the air conditioner in my car. The A/C taxes the engine and deprives the car of horsepower. After the mechanic mentioned this fact, I could feel a big difference in acceleration with the A/C off. This becomes very difficult considering I live in Texas, so sometimes comfort took priority to fuel savings in my experiment. These things helped slightly. I noticed my gas mileage increased by about one mile per gallon.

Cruise Control and other tricks

Still not satisfied, I researched other methods of saving fuel. The US Department of Energy claims that sensible driving can increase your fuel economy by as much as 33% at highway speeds. I don't consider myself a bad driver but I'll admit that I race the engine here and there. Quick acceleration and breaking can drastically affect your gas mileage. I began to take it easy on the gas pedal and obey the speed limit.

Another trick I found was to lay down the tail-gate on the highway.. This was the most difficult thing that I did because it required a change in habit. After a couple of weeks I became good at cruising instead of speeding and it paid off. After I altered my driving style, my truck got another one mile per gallon.

Three miles per gallon may not seem like very much but it's enough for me to notice the savings. I drive about 650 miles per month. Before my fuel upgrades I was getting 12.6 miles per gallon, which was 72 gallons of gas per month. Based on an average fuel cost of $3.65 per gallon, I was dumping $262.80 into my gas tank every month. After my upgrades my gas mileage improved to 15.3 miles per gallon, which breaks down to 58 gallons of gas and $211.70 per month. Ultimately I am saving $51.10 per month.

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