Tips to increase gas mileage

by Master Sgt. Michael Voss
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As part of our energy awareness conservation campaign, we challenge you to think of ways to reduce your vehicle’s gasoline consumption. Considering the price of gas these days, who isn’t trying to save a few bucks at the pump?

Some are looking at hybrids and an alternative to inserting their credit card into the gas pump. Others are considering pedal power. Though we can’t do anything about the price of gas, and it will not be long before the weather in Germany makes bicycles a landmark in the garage, we can make our cars use the gas we purchase more efficiently.

Do you know what kind of gas mileage you are getting? Calculating this is simple. If you dare, start by filling up your tank. Write down the odometer reading or reset your trip gauge to zero. The next time you get gas, fill the tank again. Divide the miles you traveled between fill ups by the amount of gas you bought on the second fill. This is your miles per gallon.

So, does that number need a little bit of improving? After a short trip to the chaplain for counsel, you could try some of these tips while driving:

1. Drive gently: Reduce your breaking and quick acceleration. Use cruise control whenever possible. Driving at constant, reasonable speeds saves gas.

2. Lighten up: Remove all extra weight from your car that you do not absolutely need. While carrying around the golf clubs in the back might be considered a “necessity” by some, cars carrying extra weight use more gas.

3. Minimize air conditioning use: This should not be a problem with winter weather on its way to Germany. When possible, close the windows and use the vents to bring in outside air.

4. Combine errands into one trip: It sounds like a no-brainer, but think of the miles (and gas!) you could save by stopping at the store on the way home from work instead of making a separate trip.

5. Car pool: If you and a co-worker trade off, you can both save gas and money.

Also, for you beater owners, and you know who you are, make sure your car is in good repair:

1. Start by checking your tire pressures: (Checking your tires before the upcoming winter season is a necessity anyway.) It takes more effort for the engine to propel an under-inflated tire than a properly inflated one, which consumes more gas. Beware of over-inflation, which can lead to handling problems and uneven wear on the tires. A chart of the optimum pressure for your vehicle and tire combination is either in your owner’s manual or on a sticker inside one of the doors.

2. Change the air filter: This is an inexpensive part to buy and depending on the car, installation can be even be performed by a beginner. Check the owner’s manual for recommendations. Change this more often if you live in a particularly dusty area, travel on dirt or gravel roads, or if you off-road for sport.

3. Make sure the spark plugs are firing properly: Replace them if they are due. At this point you may want to put down the wrench and seek a mechanic.

4. Make sure the engine timing is appropriate.

5. Inspect the exhaust system and muffler. There should be no holes, though chances are if you have an exhaust problem, you will hear it.

Lastly, check your owner’s manual for the recommended gas type. Ensure you know the European equivalent octane rating for those times you fill up on the economy. Also, do your research and check your compatibility before opting to use the new Super E10. There really is no need to buy the “super plus” high-octane gas unless your owner’s manual recommends it or your engine “knocks” without it. Purchasing high octane gas even if it is not required will not harm your engine, but will hurt your wallet. By following these tips, you will not only conserve natural resources and reduce your carbon footprint, you will also save yourself some serious money!

(Information for this article was provided by the 86th Civil Engineer Squadron)