What mpg is most fuel efficient?
Want Your MPG? 10 Factors That Affect Fuel Economy (2023)
So how do you maximize your car’s fuel economy? Numerous factors alter how your car uses fuel, making the engine more or less efficient. These factors include how you drive as well as how you maintain your car.
In this blog, we list five driving habits and five physical vehicle characteristics that may reduce your MPG.
How Your Driving Affects Fuel Economy
The way you drive can affect your arrival times, physical safety, and gas mileage. The following five habits can have a distinct impact on your MPG.
1. Excessive Short Trips
Your engine works at its most efficient after it warms up. When you mainly travel in short trips, your car does not have time to warm up fully and, therefore, uses more fuel overall.
2. Frequent Cold Weather Travel
During cold weather, your car engine takes even longer to warm up and so spends less time at the desired temperature for fuel efficiency. Reduce the effect that cold weather has on your MPG by following the guidelines in our blog «Way to Winterize: 8 Steps to Prepare Your Car for Cold Weather.»
Keep in mind, letting your car idle to warm up actually wastes fuel rather than improving gas mileage.
3. Heavy Braking or Acceleration
Aggressive driving forces your car to switch gears at a faster rate than is optimal for fuel efficiency. EPA testing indicates that frequent, heavy braking and quick acceleration could reduce your fuel economy by as much as 33% during highway driving.
4. High Vehicle Weight or Towing Weight
When your car is loaded down, your engine has to work harder. This extra weight may come from a cargo or bike rack, heavy interior load, or trailer.
It’s no secret that a speeding ticket can cost you money, but the act of speeding can also use gas more quickly. When you drive 80 MPH or faster, you create higher air resistance, decreasing your fuel economy.
How Your Vehicle’s Condition Alters Gas Mileage
When your engine doesn’t run smoothly, your car may use more gas than usual. Physical characteristics such as those below can affect fuel economy.
1. Fuel Injector Problems
Fuel injectors control how much gas goes into the engine. A leak or other injector problem may reduce the amount of fuel reaching the engine, forcing your car to run less efficiently.
2. Oil Type
Motor oil reduces the friction in your engine and can make up to a 12% difference in your gas mileage. For your best fuel performance, use a synthetic friction-reducing option.
3. Poor Maintenance
When your car’s maintenance is neglected, all of the systems run less efficiently, including those directly linked to fuel economy. For example, a clogged air filter can affect engine performance and, by extension, fuel usage.
4. Spark Plug Issues
Misfires in your spark plugs can cause problems with overall fuel usage. When the engine doesn’t get enough combustion power, your fuel economy is reduced.
5. Tire or Alignment Problems
When your tires begin to wear out or your wheels go out of alignment, they may pull against the motion of the vehicle. This additional strain can reduce your gas mileage. Keep your tires inflated properly, replace worn out tires, and have your alignment checked as needed.
Pay attention to your driving habits and the health of your car to optimize the way you use fuel.
What is fuel efficiency?
“Fuel efficiency refers to a measure of how much distance your car can travel with a specific volume of fuel.
What Is Fuel Efficiency and Why Is It Important?
At its most basic, fuel efficiency is defined as a measure of how much a car will convert energy in fuel into kinetic energy to travel. In other words, fuel efficiency shows how far your car can travel with a certain amount of fuel. In America, the concept is described as «miles per gallon» (mpg). Vehicles with better fuel efficiency tend to consume less fuel to carry out the same task. Therefore, reducing wasted fuel. Choosing a fuel efficient vehicle can bring a wide range of advantages: saving fuel costs, reducing carbon footprint, cutting our dependence on oil, etc. Let’s take a quick look at why fuel efficiency is a crucial element you need to take into account, as well as the benefits it can offer you as a driver and a responsible citizen alike.
Save Money On Gas
Oil prices are one of the major issues facing drivers today. Given the rising prices of fuel, it’s probably time for you to consider saving money on gas. The gas mileage, the amount of gas your car consumes per mile, plays an important role in how much money you save on gas each year. According to some economists, you might save 4,500 USD for 5 years by driving a vehicle that gets 30 mpg rather than 20 mpg . Thus, if you start trying to drive a more fuel-efficient car and use less fuel, not only will you save a lot of money, but you can also spend that saved money on something more meaningful to you instead.
Reduce Carbon Footprint
While you can try plenty of little things in your daily lives to reduce your carbon footprint, driving a car with better fuel efficiency is undoubtedly the best way to fight climate change. A recent study found that driving a more fuel efficient vehicle is by far the most realistic and effective action to achieve the largest cuts in emissions. The research says a car that gets 30 mpg would reduce total emissions by 5% than a vehicle that gets 20 mpg. So, if you want to contribute to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, buying a car that boasts better gas mileage may be the best option.
Lower Dependence On Oil
According to statistics, over 70% of total U.S. on-road vehicles consume oil, and they account for nearly a fourth of the country’s emissions, contributing to climate change. Moreover, the country paid about 120 million USD in 2014 for overseas oil, which was mainly imported from the Middle East. By owning a fuel efficient vehicle, you can reduce dependence on oil, as well as save money for both yourself and your country.
How To Select a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle
Check If It Has A Smaller Engine
If you are looking for cars with the latest technologies that assure a level of fuel efficiency, there are some vehicles that come equipped with a smaller engine thanks to the advancements of engine downsizing technology. Engine downsizing is estimated to be the most effective way to achieve better fuel efficiency. Engine downsizing means the employment of a smaller engine instead of a larger engine, typically using a turbocharger to maintain in-vehicle power. These combined technologies allow the car to have superior fuel efficiency while improving handling and performance, therefore rapidly gaining popularity. These days, Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) is becoming the main focus while on the quest for enhanced fuel efficiency. If you adopt the GDI system in your car, it can help improve engine efficiency along with greenhouse gas emissions, through the increased pressure of the air coming into the engine.
Did It Use Lightweight Materials?
Using lightweight materials on car parts can result in better fuel efficiency as well. Now, many luxury cars have been adopting lightweight materials for several years to improve overall fuel efficiency as well as to maintain their competitive edge in the industry. One of the most prominent lightweight materials automakers have been experimenting with over the past few years is Polymer-Clay Nanocomposites. This material is known to be easy to process and can increase fuel efficiency as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Though lightweight materials offer the potential to drastically improve fuel efficiency, they should first pass stringent durability requirements to be applied on vehicles. But, high costs incurred in the process are still limiting the widespread adoption of new lightweight materials on consumer vehicles.
Vehicles With Aerodynamics In Mind
The shape of a vehicle can be a crucial factor in fuel economy. Your car’s shape affects how air flows around it, and this has to do with how much fuel your car uses. A vehicle with a rounded form, for example, slips through the air much more smoothly than a boxy car with an angular form. Therefore, decreasing fuel consumption. We call this smoothness in terms of the shape of a car, the aerodynamics of a car. Thus, selecting a car with a maximized aerodynamic design can help you increase fuel efficiency, as well as save money on gas. Also, an aerodynamic design is a key contributor to making an aesthetically pleasing car, which is sporty and sleek looking.
Embrace An Electric Vehicle Or Hybrid Vehicle
Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids are several times more fuel-efficient than conventional fuel vehicles. They typically consume up to 30% less fuel than traditional gas-powered equivalents. Thus, many automakers are now putting more emphasis on producing EV or hybrid models. Kia also provides a variety of hybrid and fully electric vehicles that you can choose from. The quintessential example would be the Kia e-Niro and Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid. First, the e-Niro utilizes a battery and an effective electric motor to deliver a luxurious driving experience with zero emissions. This EV could save you up to 8,400 USD over three years compared with a similar-sized counterpart. Second, the Niro Plug-In Hybrid provides a combined system of a battery, a petrol engine, and an electric motor, adding flexibility to the vehicle. Since they provide the best of both worlds, you can drive with minimal cost, zero emissions, and big savings on your gas bill.
How To Maximize Fuel Economy
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The easiest and most effective way to improve the fuel economy of any car is to modify your driving habits. Recommendations are provided below, and more information can be found at fueleconomy.gov.
- Minimize cold engine operation. To save fuel, start the engine and then drive the car normally to warm the engine to operating temperature more rapidly.
- Drive conservatively. Avoid «jack rabbit» starts, rapid acceleration and hard braking, which can lower fuel economy by 15 to 30 percent at highway speeds and 10 to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic.
- Shift gears efficiently. If your car has a manual transmission, upshift as soon as practical. When coming to a stop, use the brakes rather than downshifting to slow the car.
- Anticipate road conditions. Monitor the traffic ahead and «time» stoplights to maintain momentum and avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking.
- Observe speed limits. Fuel economy peaks at around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speeds increase. Reducing highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy 7 to 14 percent.
- Use cruise control. Minimizing speed fluctuations on the highway saves gas. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads as it could cause a loss of vehicle control.
- Use a «fast pass» on toll roads. These electronic transponders save fuel by minimizing or eliminating tollbooth slowdowns and stops.
- Avoid excessive idling. A car engine consumes one quarter to one half gallon of fuel per hour when idling, but a warm engine only takes around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart. Where safe to do so, shut off your engine if you will be stopped for more than a minute.
- Plan your trips. Combine errands and route your travel to minimize backtracking. Identify «one stop» business locations where you can do multiple tasks (banking, shopping, etc.) without extra driving.
- Avoid rush hour. If your employer supports «flex time» work hours, take advantage of this option to commute and run errands during off-peak traffic periods.
Practice Good Car Maintenance
Poorly maintained vehicles are less efficient and use more fuel. Here are some car care tips to help you get better fuel economy:
- Remove unnecessary items from the vehicle. An extra 100 pounds can reduce fuel economy up to 1 percent. Note that cargo weight affects the fuel mileage of smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
- Perform regular car maintenance at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner’s manual or as indicated by the in-car maintenance reminder system.
- When its times for an oil change, make sure to use the proper type. Most newer cars require low-viscosity, energy-conserving, semi- or full-synthetic oils.
- Buy quality fuel. Use the gasoline grade (regular, mid-grade or premium) recommended by the car’s manufacturer, and choose Top Tier™ brands to prevent fuel system and engine deposits that reduce efficiency.
- Check the tires for proper inflation at least once a month. Underinflated tires have increased rolling resistance that reduces fuel economy. They can also overheat and blow out.
- Make sure the engine air filter is clean. A dirty filter can reduce fuel economy on older carbureted cars, although it only affects maximum power output on modern fuel-injected engines.
- Head to an auto repair shop for service as soon as possible if the «check engine» light comes on. This light indicates a fault that can increase exhaust emissions and decrease fuel economy.
- Try to avoid the use of rooftop luggage carriers. Items transported on top of the car significantly increase aerodynamic drag, which reduces fuel economy.
- Park in the shade. During the summer, heat built-up from the sun will require increased use of the air conditioning system, reducing fuel-efficiency.
- Use a block heater. In cold winter climates, this helps the engine reach operating temperature, where it is most fuel efficient, more quickly.
- Turn off the air conditioning and roll down the windows to save fuel. This works, even at highway speeds, but the added heat and noise can be uncomfortable and increase driver fatigue.
- Regularly track your car’s fuel economy. A sudden drop in mileage may indicate a need for car service.
Choose a New Car Wisely
Many factors affect a vehicle purchase decision, including personal preferences and safety concerns. Generally, smaller cars get better fuel economy than larger ones, and hybrid cars are more efficient than comparable non-hybrid vehicles. If you are seeking maximum fuel mileage, choose the least amount of car that meets your day-to-day driving needs. You can always rent a larger vehicle when one is required. A single person who rarely carries passengers may find a subcompact fills the bill. A couple with children is more likely to need a minivan or SUV. And, people who haul heavy loads or tow trailers often find a pickup truck is the most appropriate solution.
Once you choose a vehicle type, look for models in that category with the best fuel economy ratings. If there is a choice of engines and/or transmissions, choose the most efficient combination that meets your needs. Also, look for a car that uses regular grade gasoline rather than more expensive premium. Finally, consider options and features that can contribute to fuel savings. For example, lighter-colored cars and tinted windows reduce interior heat loads and require less air conditioning use.
If you own more than one car, choose the best vehicle for the task. For solo travel, use the smallest and most fuel-efficient car. To carry many passengers or lots of cargo, select a larger model. This might seem obvious, but it is easy to overlook the savings that wise vehicle choices can generate over time. For example, the 2017 AAA Your Driving Costs study lists the fuel expenses for a small sedan driven 15,000 miles annually at $1,077, while the equivalent cost for a 4WD pickup truck is $2,082 – nearly double.
Finding Quality Auto Repair
AAA recommends that you plan ahead for vehicle service by finding an auto repair shop and technician you can trust before you need them. AAA.com/AutoRepair provides information on nearly 7,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities that have met AAA’s high standards for appearance, technician training and certification, insurance coverage and customer satisfaction. AAA regularly inspects every Approved Auto Repair facility and surveys their customers to ensure ongoing performance. In addition, AAA members receive special benefits that include auto repair discounts, an extended 24-month/24,000-mile parts and labor warranty, and AAA assistance in resolving repair-related issues.