Good, Better, Best: How
to Improve Gas Mileage
Whether you are shopping
for a new car or just trying to maintain
the one you have, you can take some
steps to get the best mileage out of
your gas purchases. The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC), the nation’s
consumer protection agency, offers these
tips to use fuel efficiently:
On the Road: Drive More
Stay within posted speed limits. Gas
mileage decreases rapidly at speeds
above 60 miles per hour.
Stop aggressive driving. You can
improve your gas mileage up to five
percent around town if you avoid
"jackrabbit" starts and
stops by anticipating traffic
conditions and driving gently.
Avoid unnecessary idling. It wastes
fuel, costs you money, and pollutes
the air. Turn off the engine if you
anticipate a wait.
Combine errands. Several short trips
taken from a cold start can use twice
as much fuel as one trip covering the
same distance when the engine is warm.
Use overdrive gears and cruise
control when appropriate. They improve
the fuel economy of your car when you’re
driving on a highway.
Remove excess weight from the trunk.
An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can
reduce a typical car’s fuel economy
by up to two percent.
Avoid packing items on top of your
car. A loaded roof rack or carrier
creates wind resistance and can
decrease fuel economy by five percent.
At the Garage: Maintain
Keep your engine tuned. Tuning your
engine according to your owner’s
manual can increase gas mileage by an
average of four percent. Increases
vary depending on a car’s condition.
Keep your tires properly inflated
and aligned. It can increase gas
mileage up to three percent.
Change your oil. According to the
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
you can improve your gas mileage by
using the manufacturer’s recommended
grade of motor oil. Motor oil that
says "Energy Conserving" on
the performance symbol of the American
Petroleum Institute contains
friction-reducing additives that can
improve fuel economy.
Check and replace air filters
regularly. Replacing clogged filters
can increase gas mileage up to ten
At the Pump: Use the
Octane Level You Need
Your owner’s manual recommends the
most effective octane level for your
car. For most cars, the recommended
gasoline is regular octane. In most
cases, using a higher octane gas than
the manufacturer recommends offers no
benefit. Unless your engine is
knocking, buying higher octane
gasoline is a waste of money.
In Advertising: Check
Out Claims About "Gas-Saving"
Be skeptical of claims for devices
that will "boost your mileage by
an extra 6 miles per gallon,"
"improve your fuel economy up to
26 percent," or the like. EPA has
tested over 100 supposed gas-saving
devices — including mixture
"enhancers" and fuel line
magnets — and found that very few
provide any fuel economy benefits. The
devices that work provide only
marginal improvements. Some
"gas-saving" devices may
damage a car’s engine or increase
exhaust emissions. For more
information and a full list of tested
products, check www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer.htm.
In the Showroom:
Consider the Alternatives
Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs)
operate on alternative fuels, such as
methanol, ethanol, compressed natural
gas, liquefied petroleum gas,
electricity, and others designated by
the DOE. Using these alternative fuels
in vehicles may reduce harmful
pollutants and exhaust emissions. FTC
Rules require labels on all new AFVs
to give the vehicle’s estimated
cruising range and general descriptive
information. Find out how many miles a
new AFV travels on a tank or supply of
fuel because, gallon for gallon, some
don’t travel as far as
Hybrid Electric Vehicles offer
another option for car buyers.
According to DOE and EPA, these
vehicles combine the benefits of
gasoline engines and electric motors
and can be configured to achieve
different objectives, such as improved
fuel economy and increased power.
For more information on
alternative fuel vehicles, call the DOE’s
toll-free National Alternative Fuels
Hotline, 1-800-423-1DOE, or visit DOE’s
Alternative Fuels Data Center website at
More information about both
hybrid-electric and alternative fuel
vehicles is at www.fueleconomy.gov.
For more energy saving
tips for cars, visit the DOE's
The FTC works for the
consumer to prevent fraudulent,
deceptive and unfair business practices
in the marketplace and to provide
information to help consumers spot,
stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint
or to get free
information on consumer issues,
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP
(1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing,
identity theft, and other fraud-related
complaints into Consumer
a secure online database available to
hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and