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Tips for boosting gas mileage

Keep your foot light and your trunk empty to get the best mpg.

August 07, 2011|By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times
  • Drivers and cyclists share the road on Angeles Crest Highway.
Drivers and cyclists share the road on Angeles Crest Highway. (Francine Orr, Los Angeles…)

Gas prices have eased a bit from earlier this year, but with a gallon still costing about $3.75, here are some hints from transportation experts on how to get more out of every gallon you buy.

Take it easy. If you accelerate rapidly and brake hard, you'll be wasting a lot of gas, especially on freeways. The U.S. Department of Energy says aggressive driving can trim your miles per gallon a whopping 33% on highways and 5% on streets.

Slow down. Most cars get their best fuel efficiency at 45 to 55 mph. Going that slow is often impractical on freeways, but because you burn more fuel at higher speeds, "each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.29 per gallon," according to the federal website fueleconomy.gov.

Avoid additives and gadgets. In decades of testing, the Auto Club has never found an additive or device that significantly improved gas mileage, even though the products promised to do so. Consumer Reports, which has done its own testing on items ranging in price from $50 to $250, concurred.

Remove excess weight. Go through your trunk and elsewhere in your car and remove items that don't need to be there. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mpg as much as 2%, says the Energy Department. This especially holds true for small vehicles.

Keep tires properly inflated. You can boost your gas mileage up to 3.3% by maintaining correct tire pressure. Properly inflated tires are also safer and will last longer, saving you money by delaying replacement. Look in your owner's manual or on the door panel for the correct pressure.

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