A car carries the Catch-22 of being a necessary investment, but one that depreciates the minute you drive it off the lot.
However, there are ways to extend the value of your car, making it more valuable in the long run. Ensure your car stays fuel-efficient, squeezing every mile from each gallon of gas you pump into it. Here’s a basic guide on how to maximize your car’s fuel efficiency so you can save money while keeping your car in top shape.
Take Stock of How Much Gas You Use
Your car’s gas mileage is indicated on the sticker and in the manual; it shows how many gallons of gas it burns, or should burn, on an average trip. Make sure the numbers add up by running some tests and keeping thorough records when you fill up and before and after you travel. Fill your tank, set the odometer back to zero, then drive as you usually do, noting the number of times you fill up, how much you put in, and how far you drive—when the month ends, total it up and see if you’re truly getting the mileage promised by the manufacturer.
If your car is carrying extra weight, you can make it lighter by doing things such as removing the roof rack (if you have one); it adds wind resistance and puts drag on your car, making it work harder. Do you like to golf and keep your clubs in the car for convenience’s sake? Store your golf clubs in the garage until you need them, and, similarly ditch any extraneous loads such as boxes of paperwork, bike racks, unnecessary tools, extra clothing, and so on until you need them.
Don’t Be Idle in Not Idling
Many newer cars feature an automatic shut-off feature that activates when you stop for traffic lights and starts the car again when you prepare to drive off. If your car doesn’t have this feature, turn off the engine at traffic lights or in similar situations where you need to sit and stand. Idling uses more gas than restarting, so save by shutting it all down.
When considering how to maximize your car’s fuel efficiency, don’t underestimate the importance of bringing your car in for regular service and maintenance—for instance, remember to keep it clean since built-up dirt can impede performance and interfere with your vehicle’s aerodynamic design. Keep your tires inflated to proper pressure levels and have them inspected and rotated every few months. Change the oil and oil filter every 6,000 miles—clean oil means a more smoothly running and fuel-efficient car, after all.