Your swelling gas bill is devouring your entire Friday night fun fund. Now, with $5.00/gallon prices becoming the new norm, everybody's feeling the pinch. Remember when gas stations wouldn't take $100 bills? Now you need two to fill your Silverado. And, big oil is developing station signs with mortgage rates listed next to the price per gallon. Can you imagine a 20-year fixed to fill-up your Mustang?
The AutoAnything complete guide to saving gas
All joking aside, super-expensive gas is here to stay. Drivers are in a scramble over how to afford their morning commute. They're resorting to a number of solutions, some the result of fuel economy technology in the form of hybrid vehicles, others steering for quick-fix gadgets carrying a high price tag and dubious claims.
Don't downgrade from your favorite ride into a sub-compact clown car! Stay away from fuel saving gimmicks, too. There are simple ways to save gas, increase gas mileage and stick it back to the greedy barons stealing your spending cash.
Follow these routes for AutoAnything's best ways to boost your gas mileage:
Replace your stock air filter with a free-breathing performance air filter
Cover drag-prone open truck beds with a smooth tonneau cover
Fire restrictive stock air intakes in favor of a high-volume performance air intake
Stay on target and eliminate gas-hogging stray trips with a GPS navigator
Spit the exhaust out faster with a set of performance pipes
Tune your engine to Stradivarius precision with a power tuner or performance module
Store your drag-attracting, odd-shaped cargo in an aerodynamic roof bag
A guide on other items that can chip-in to save gas
Everyday practices that will increase gas mileage
Some wacky ideas for saving gas with questionable results
Will this all add-up to a huge mileage increase?
A quick guide to better gas mileage with a performance air filter
A great place to start when looking to increase gas mileage is with your vehicle's air filter. It is by far the easiest performance upgrade around, and the quickest way to increase gas mileage.
If you're still lugging around town with a disposable paper air filter, you must toss it in favor of a performance air filter. A disposable paper air filter is incredibly restrictive to airflow, a restriction which essentially chokes your engine. Compare this to a performance air filter which uses either cotton or foam filtration material. Air flows much easier through these performance air filter materials which puts plenty of oxygen into your engine for burning fuel. With the extra air on hand, your engine's computer responds by using less fuel per air part.
The result is a more efficient fuel mixture that draws more power from every drop of gas injected into your engine. More power from every drop equals - you guessed it - better gas mileage. How much of an improvement, you say? The actual miles per gallon vary by vehicle, but a 1-2mpg boost is common.
But wait - there's more. The bountiful airflow puts extra horsepower at the pedal for your driving pleasure. Not to mention the cleaner air volumes now entering your engine, which contribute to overall vehicle condition. Be careful, though. Overusing the power boost provided by a performance air filter will negate any mileage improvements.
Performance air filters are infinitely reusable, with many guaranteed for more than 1,000,000 miles. They require only infrequent cleaning as maintenance - a welcome departure from restrictive disposable filters that stick you for a fistful of dollars every 15,000 miles.
Improve gas mileage with a tonneau cover - the basics
Ever feel like something is holding your truck back? Surprisingly, it's probably your tailgate. Passing air rushes over your truck's cab and flows directly into your open bed. With nowhere else to go, the turbulent air crashes into your tailgate - catching your truck like a trout that swallowed the hook.
Adding a tonneau cover to your otherwise exposed truck bed provides a tight surface for airflow to blow right past. Without a drag-prone tailgate to slow your truck down, you can see an average gas mileage improvement of 5% to 10% immediately.
If you think the gas savings is great, you'll definitely enjoy the sweet looks and extra security provided by a tonneau cover. Most of AutoAnything's tonneau covers are simple to attach to your truck bed with common tools. You can save gas after a cool 30-minute installation.
Another gas-saving upgrade: a performance air intake
Replacing your restrictive stock air intake has some of the same benefits as a performance air filter, only with a bigger effect. Performance air intakes use a high-flow performance air filter at the end of a wide, free-flowing performance intake tube. The result is outstanding airflow that's many times better than limiting stock parts and a few steps more advanced than a performance air filter alone.
Like a performance air filter, a performance air intake improves gas mileage by drawing more air into the engine for efficient fuel burning. This abundance of airflow helps form balanced air/fuel ratios that maximize the power drawn from every drop of gas.
Performance air intakes move the process another step further by drawing-in cooler air that's dense with oxygen molecules. This air is also delivered faster and in significantly higher volumes thanks to the precise mandrel bending of the new intake tube.
Beyond saving gas, a performance air intake deepens your engine's growl, provides a 5-10 horsepower gain, and quickens throttle response. Plus, the new addition of a reusable performance air filter means you're out of the cash-sucking paper air filter habit.
GPS navigators: a tutorial on knowing the quickest route
You may never want to admit it, but you've probably been lost before. By the time you backtrack, take a few wrong turns and eventually cave-in and ask for help, a decent piece of your latest fill-up is gone.
GPS navigators help you improve gas mileage in the simplest way: by keeping you on the shortest path between points on a map. These satellite-driven navigators stay the course, showing your travel route on a clear screen that makes your directions easy to understand. When you stay on target you burn less fuel before arriving at your destination.
When your needle is on E, a GPS navigator points you to the closest gas station. Looking for cheaper gas than the station you found? A GPS navigator can guide you toward the next station in hopes of saving a dollar or two. GPS navigators come loaded with millions of points of interest, including stores, businesses, restaurants and more (gas stations included). Instead of searching in strange territory for a good dinner spot, your GPS navigator can save you gas by guiding you there faster. And, it can even provide a phone number for reservations.
Performance exhaust and better gas mileage: a quick guide
You've probably wanted a sweet set of exhaust pipes for a while. Now here's a great excuse to grab a performance exhaust: these specially-engineered systems can improve gas mileage.
The specialized mandrel-bending of an exhaust system frees your exhaust flow, virtually ending turbulent back pressure that can hold your vehicle much the way drag does. The average improvement to gas mileage is between 1 and 2 mpg, which varies by vehicle.
Along with the gas savings, a performance exhaust system for your vehicle boosts horsepower between 5% and 10%. Using this new power to drive like a bat out of Hades, though, will negate any gas mileage increase provided by a performance exhaust.
Don't forget the sound! Adding a new exhaust system to your vehicle can add any level of engine growl - from sporty and subdued to a rumblin' rock concert nobody is soon to forget.
A tutorial on engine tuning with a power module or programmer
Automakers tune their stock vehicles to account for drivers of all different styles, from lead-footed teens to soccer moms to your grandmother. Safely tinkering with some of these settings can not only yield some newfound power and performance from your engine, but it can also improve your gas mileage.
Power modules are simple to install and use. After easy installation that takes less than half an hour, your engine is reloaded with expertly-tuned settings for air/fuel ratios, shift points, spark timing and more. These modules are painstakingly developed with maximum power and efficiency in mind, including better fuel economy. An immediate seat-of-your-pants power gain will be noticed. Going back to stock settings is easy - simply remove the module and your original engine parameters are back.
Performance tuners take things another step further, giving you full control of the best settings to change for optimization. air/fuel ratio, spark timing, shift points and even tire size can be modified with the push of a button. Use your own mad scientist mix of settings, or use pre-loaded settings, including fuel economy modes. The biggest benefit to your vehicle is boosted horsepower, though a 1-2mpg gas savings is possible.
As recently as a few months ago, power module and tuner manufacturers have changed their product to help ease your gas bill. Once only effective when used with premium gas, these tuners now offer modes for 87 octane performance - yet another way to save money on gas.
Ever go on a long trip and stack random gear on the roof of your vehicle? These often bulky items can drag down your gas mileage by as much as 5%. Instead of putting your bags straight onto the roof, try using an aerodynamic roof bag for storage.
With both hard and soft designs, AutoAnything has the best way to maximize your storage space without all of the gas-sucking drag. Aerodynamic hard roof bag models offer a sleek shaped storage bin that helps the wind scoot right by. Soft roof bags feature a less aerodynamic shape, but they're also fully collapsible when empty - the ultimate in drag-free driving.
With either soft or hard rooftop bags, you can improve gas mileage by completely removing the bag from your vehicle when you don't need to use it. Even though they are aerodynamic, these roof bags are only completely drag-proof when they're off the vehicle.
A guide on other items that can chip-in to save gas
Because every little bit helps, here are some other simple items that contribute to the cause of getting more out of every tank.
These wonders are a cinch to install to your window channels or door frame. Deflectors let you leave the window part way down, allowing fresh air in while keeping bugs, rain and rushing air noise out of your vehicle.
How does this improve gas mileage? By letting the outside breeze into your vehicle, it's easier to leave the air conditioner off. Few people know that your AC can be quite the power hog on your system during city driving, dragging down gas mileage as much as 10%.
Digital tire gauge
If you're getting worse gas mileage than usual, check your tire pressure. If your tires are under-inflated, your vehicle has to work that much harder to spin 'em. The friction caused by these flabby tires could be sucking your gas mileage by 2mpg or more. Not to mention the premature tread wear that will cost you serious cash down the road.
Check your pressure with a digital tire gauge for the best possible accuracy. The recommended pressure for your tires is usually given on a label inside your door well. If they're low, fill 'em up at most any corner service station and check the pressure again with the digital tire gauge. Under-inflation can have cash-swallowing consequences, but over-inflation is just as bad for your wallet.
If you'd rather not get a tonneau cover, or need full uncovered bed access at all times, consider an air-flow tailgate. drag is reduced immensely, thanks to a mesh or louvered design that allows turbulent air in your truck bed to slip right through the gate.
Though studies show the gas mileage improvement is not as dramatic as adding a tonneau cover to your ride, air flow tailgates will show an immediate gas mileage improvement that exceeds unsafe driving with the stock tailgate down.
Everyday practices that will increase gas mileage
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a list of ways to improve fuel economy through simple habit. Try a few of their recommendations (along with some additional ideas from us), and chart your gas mileage increase.
Take it easy
"Hard driving" that includes frequent punching of the gas and slamming on the brakes can really dump fuel economy for your vehicle. Give yourself some extra time, anticipate stops for smoother braking, and try not to race the carload of high school students in the next lane.
Stop your idling
It's all too easy to waste gas with the car in park going nowhere. If you're going to be idle for a while, just turn the engine off. Contrary to popular belief, having to restart your car isn't worse for your fuel economy if you're going to idle for longer than 1 minute. A good deal of gas can also be saved by skipping the drive-thru and ordering food to go from inside your favorite burger joint.
Shovin' into overdrive
Some people shy away from their top gears, fearing the danger zone. Nonsense! When you're up to speed in a manual or automatic vehicle, the overdrive gear is the most efficient operating gear. Using it saves your fuel economy versus using standard drive.
Weighing you down
Carrying sandbags in the back of your truck for no good reason? Got a mess of clothes, trash and tools in the trunk? Find a new home outside your vehicle for this unused junk. Your suddenly lighter vehicle is easier to get going, improving fuel economy.
Kill your daytime lights
Anything that causes extra strain on your system will affect gas mileage. This includes using lights during the daytime. If your vehicle gives you the option to turn your daytime running lights off (many vehicles turn them on automatically), try driving without them. Headlights, too, but only if conditions permit.
Keep your tires in line
Crooked alignments and deflated tires (as previously mentioned) work against your engine, robbing power and hurting fuel economy. Stay on top of your tire's pressure, tread condition and alignment, and help get your gas mileage spinning in the right direction.
Sharpen your shop skills
The overall health of your car contributes greatly to the gas mileage you'll see throughout its life. Follow the regular maintenance schedule for oil changes, tune-ups and inspections. Don't keep driving your vehicle if something is blatantly screwed up! Get the problem fixed, and it's less likely to drain your gas tank.
Some wacky ideas for saving gas with dubious results
The number of questionable gas saving techniques out there has been on the rise almost in sync with inflating gas prices. Be skeptical of items or techniques promising a magical boost in mileage, especially these.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tested a number of gas-saving items, including fuel additives claiming to improve gas mileage. These flashy bottles of magic potion are added to your latest fill-up. The FTC found no significant improvement in gas mileage.
Fuel system magnets:
It's like feng-shui for your fuel. These magnets clip to your fuel line and allegedly align fuel molecules in a way that's better for combustion. Companies selling fuel system magnets claim a 10% - 20% fuel economy improvement. This sounds clever, but FTC tests found no significant improvement in fuel economy.
Using warm water to remove ice from your vehicle in freezing temperatures:
Thrown-in to a gas-saving tips email that was widely-circulated. Claims an excess 100lbs. of ice may be bogging-down your vehicle in freezing weather. Good luck getting your hose to work in sub-zero temps (or getting warm water out of said hose), and have fun when that water freezes over your doors while you drive. You're better off calling in sick.
Using high-octane gas:
Contrary to popular belief, higher octane gas isn't always best for your vehicle. Recognizing the rising cost of gas (years ago, when $1.49/gallon was steep), automakers began gearing engines toward using regular gas. The manual for your vehicle says which grade is right for your engine. Switching to regular won't save you mileage, but if you've been buying premium under the guise of fuel economy or engine health, making the switch will save you a few bucks at the pump.
Using neutral while coasting downhill:
This urban legend is a popular gas saver myth for foothill dwellers and weekend ski trippers. Not only is this ineffective at saving gas, but it is extremely dangerous. There's no reason to cut-off your acceleration control - coasting with your foot off the gas uses the same amount of fuel. And, letting your vehicle drift downhill can generate triple-digit speeds - one reason why coasting downhill in neutral is illegal in many areas. And if you're thinking of the next crazy step - turning off your engine to coast downhill - the cops should cut-up your license.
Will this all add-up to a huge mileage increase?
Gas mileage improvements are a tricky endeavor. The quoted gains for a particular product can be greater or less than what your specific vehicle will see. And, these stated gains relate directly to effects on a completely stock vehicle.
The mileage improvements may not combine, as some of these products modify the same factor. For instance, combining a tonneau cover with a flow-through tailgate does not add both stated mileage improvements, it only factors the tonneau cover's stated gain. That's because both items reduce tailgate drag and the tonneau cover completely stops airflow toward your air flow tailgate.
Stacking products together may yield improved gas mileage, but they don't directly add up. The 1-2mpg gain of an air intake and the 1-2mpg improvement of an exhaust system won't necessarily make a 2-4mpg increase, but it could be anywhere from 1-5mpg - it just depends on your vehicle's condition, engine size and other modifications.
In short, don't expect to get one of each of these products and double your gas mileage. That's just not possible at present, though the smaller improvements in gas mileage detailed here go a long way to saving you cash.
We hope you have found the AutoAnything Complete Guide to Saving Gas a good reference in helping you and your vehicle cope with high gas prices. It is AutoAnything's goal to provide the most information on the Internet and through our Auto Accessory Specialists on every product we sell, along with tips and advice for getting the most out of your driving experience. If you have any information that you think could help improve this section, please email us at email@example.com.
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