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Vehicle gas gauge - learn how to improve your fuel efficiency in 5 steps

Improve Your Fuel Efficiency in Five Steps

Whether you’re dealing with rising gas prices or looking at ways to shrink your budget, now is a great time to reflect on your driving habits. You may be pleased to learn that you can improve your fuel efficiency with five simple steps.


  1. Clear out the extra clutter

    There are some items you should keep in your car, like an emergency kit. However, as little as 100 pounds can reduce your fuel efficiency. So clear out forgotten backpacks, sports equipment and extra books. You’ll be amazed how things add up.

    Don’t forget about the outside of your car, too. Remove excess add-ons that increase wind resistance and decrease fuel efficiency, such as:

    • Roof racks
    • Cargo boxes
    • Bike racks

    Rear mounted cargo boxes are a better option if you need to haul additional items. At highway speeds, roof-mounted cargo boxes can reduce fuel economy by 6 to 17 percent, while their rear-mounted counterparts typically have a 1 to 5 percent impact.

  2. Limit idling

    You may have noticed that many late model vehicles already feature the stop-start system. This allows cars to conserve fuel by automatically shutting down the engine when the car comes to a stop. The engine automatically restarts when the brake is released.

    Surprisingly, idling uses more fuel than restarting your car and gives off 80% more pollution than when your car is in motion. The next time you come to a stop and are waiting for someone, consider turning off your engine to save on fuel.

  3. Keep your speed steady and within the speed limit

    After reaching 45-50 mph, your car begins to lose fuel efficiency. And the faster you go, the worse it gets. It’s best to drive the speed limit and use cruise control when possible. Rapid acceleration and hard braking quickly eat up fuel, so avoid those actions whenever possible.

  4. Check your tire pressure

    When your tires are underinflated, fuel consumption can increase by as much as 3 percent. Plus, without proper tire inflation, you risk wearing down your treads more quickly. Check your owner’s manual or the tire wall for the correct PSI for your tires.

  5. Perform regular maintenance

    Filthy air filters, spark plugs and connections can all affect your fuel economy.  When you follow the maintenance schedule recommended by your dealership, your vehicle will be more efficient and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Schedule regular tune-ups with your dealership to replace air filters, motor oil, tire rotations and more.


Now that you know five steps to improve your fuel efficiency, put them to work and reduce your trips to the gas station. Looking for more tips to improve your budget? Check out our budget worksheet.

Kelly Schaefer Hill
By Kelly Schaefer Hill, GM Financial

GM Financial’s Kelly Schaefer Hill is a seasoned road warrior with a history of long road trips and early morning drives. When she’s not belting out an alternative rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus” to her daughters, she's digging into digital marketing data.

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