Better gas mileage can come from making just a few important adjustments in your driving habits. While we still may have to say “your results may vary,” these common sense practices can make a difference in the hot days soon to come upon us in Northern Virginia.

In his April Fool’s Day column, Brian Moody, Road Test Editor at Edmunds.com, suggested several really good ways to increase gas mileage. These included: Call in Sick (and just stay home from work), Engage in Fewer High Speed Pursuits, and Turn Off the Engine and Coast Downhill. All are bad advice!

Here are some REAL tips for increasing your mileage from Tysons Auto Specialties:

  1. Avoid fast starts and long idling.

    Remember, there are no prizes for winning a stoplight drag race. When you “put the pedal to the metal,” you seriously hurt your car’s mileage.

    The same holds true for just letting your car idle for a long time. When you idle, you are getting zero miles per gallon. You can lower the gas mileage on a sub compact to that of a motor home simply by sitting with the air-conditioning running for an extended period of time.

  2. Don’t top off your gas tank.

    For some reason we feel that we need to fill our tanks to the brim. When we do that, we will end up wasting gas that will slop over or seep out. Try to get in the habit of stopping when the pump automatically clicks off.

  3. Make sure your gas cap is tightened.

    When replacing your gas cap, turn it until you hear the clicking sound. This secures the cap and prohibits gas from evaporating.

  4. Park in the shade when possible and use your garage if you have one.

    Jim Kliesch, a research associate for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy states, “If you let your car bake in the sun there’s going to be a greater amount of evaporative emissions that take place than if you park in the shade.”

    By using your garage, you keep your car warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. This way, you decrease the amount of air-conditioning and defrosting, which affects gas mileage.

  5. Keep your tires properly inflated

    Brian Moody states it well. “Tires that have low pressure offer more resistance so the engine is going to work harder…”

  6. Provide proper maintenance for your engine.

    In addition to regular changes for oil, oil filters, and air filters, Mac Demere, at Edmunds.com, also reminds drivers that the “check engine” light means just that – you need to have your engine checked by a qualified mechanic. Also, misalignment does more than just ruin your tires, it impacts your mileage.

  7. Be careful choosing your gas.

    First of all, if your car requires premium gas, burning regular can hurt performance and mileage. You may actually end up spending more!

    Second, be careful not to burn fuel that has a lot of alcohol, such as E85 Ethanol (with 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). The EPA says that you will get a minimum of 7 mpg less than with 100 percent gasoline.

    In addition, the increasing demand for ethanol is also creating serious environmental problems both in the United States and in other parts of the world.

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