Whether you are
shopping for a new car or just trying to maintain the one you have, you
can take some steps to get the best mileage out of your gas purchases. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
the nation’s consumer protection agency, offers the following tips to
use fuel efficiently:
On the Road:
Drive More Efficiently
At the Garage:
Maintain Your Car
- Stay within posted
speed limits. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles
- Stop aggressive
driving. You can improve your gas mileage up to five percent around
town if you avoid “jackrabbit” starts and stops by anticipating traffic
conditions and driving gently.
- Avoid unnecessary
idling. It wastes fuel, costs you money, and pollutes the air. Turn off
the engine if you anticipate a wait.
- Combine errands.
Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel
as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
- Use overdrive
gears and cruise control when appropriate. They improve the fuel
economy of your car when you’re driving on a highway.
- Remove excess
weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a
typical car’s fuel economy by up to two percent.
- Avoid packing
items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind
resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent.
At the Pump: Use
the Octane Level You Need
- Keep your engine
tuned. Tuning your engine according to your owner’s manual can increase
gas mileage by an average of four percent. Increases vary depending on
a car’s condition.
- Keep your tires
properly inflated and aligned. It can increase gas mileage up to three
- Change your oil.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), you can improve your gas mileage by using the
manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Motor oil that says
“Energy Conserving” on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum
Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel
- Check and replace
air filters regularly. Replacing clogged filters can increase gas
mileage up to ten percent.
Check Out Claims About “Gas-Saving” Gadgets
- Your owner’s
manual recommends the most effective octane level for your car. For
most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases,
using a higher octane gas than the manufacturer recommends offers no
benefit. Unless your engine is knocking, buying higher octane gasoline
is a waste of money.
In the Showroom:
Consider the Alternatives
- Be skeptical of
claims for devices that will “boost your mileage by an extra 6 miles
per gallon,” “improve your fuel economy up to 26 percent,” or the like.
EPA has tested over 100 supposed gas-saving devices — including mixture
“enhancers” and fuel line magnets — and found that very few provide any
fuel economy benefits. The devices that work provide only marginal
improvements. Some “gas-saving” devices may damage a car’s engine or
increase exhaust emissions. For more information and a full list of
tested products, check
- Alternative Fuel
Vehicles (AFVs) operate on alternative fuels, such as methanol,
ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, electricity,
and others designated by the DOE. Using these alternative fuels in
vehicles may reduce harmful pollutants and exhaust emissions. FTC Rules
require labels on all new AFVs to give the vehicle’s estimated cruising
range and general descriptive information. Find out how many miles a
new AFV travels on a tank or supply of fuel because, gallon for gallon,
some don’t travel as far as gasoline-powered vehicles.
- Hybrid Electric
Vehicles offer another option for car buyers. According to DOE and EPA,
these vehicles combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric
motors and can be configured to achieve different objectives, such as
improved fuel economy and increased power.
For more information
on alternative fuel vehicles, call the DOE’s toll-free National
Alternative Fuels Hotline, 1-800-423-1DOE, or visit the U.S.
Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data
about both hybrid-electric and alternative fuel vehicles is at www.fueleconomy.gov
For more energy
saving tips for cars, visit the DOE's
The FTC works for
the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business
practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help
consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint
or to get
on consumer issues
, visit www.ftc.gov
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY:
1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft,
and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel
, a secure
online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Courtesy of the Federal Trade