Increase Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency This Summer

Fuel Efficiency, Summer Gas Mileage, Air Conditioning, Auto Maintenance

Increase Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency This Summer

Fuel Efficiency, Summer Gas Mileage, Air Conditioning, Auto MaintenanceWell, it’s that time of year again when gas prices start rising. While many of us are busy planning vacations and road trips, saving money at the pump is at the top of our list. If you want to increase your car’s fuel efficiency, read through these tips to discover how air conditioning usage and auto maintenance can help improve summer gas mileage.

Causes For Poor Car Fuel Efficiency

Hot weather can actually increase your fuel efficiency in some ways:

  • The vehicle’s engine warms up to an appropriate temperature faster
  • Summer-grade gasoline provides slightly more energy for your car
  • Warm air creates less wind resistance than cold air

While that is great news, let’s explore a few things that can lower your car’s fuel efficiency.

Air Conditioning Set Too Cold

When it is sweltering outside, turning on the air conditioning full blast as soon as you get in the car sometimes feels like the only option. Operating your car’s air conditioning at the coldest setting is the prime reason for low fuel economy in summer. In very hot weather, the A/C can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel efficiency by 25% or more, particularly during short trips. 

Hybrids & EVs

The effect of air conditioning use on hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles can be an even higher fuel efficiency loss percentage. Consult your owner’s manual for factory-recommended air conditioning usage for your make and model.

Driving With Windows Down

Driving with your windows down may reduce fuel efficiency. Open windows can increase aerodynamic drag, also known as wind resistance, depending on your vehicle’s design. Wind resistance causes your automobile to use more energy to move through the air. Different vehicles experience reduced MPG due to size, inherent aerodynamics, and engine size. This effect may be insignificant at low speeds but increases at faster highway speeds.

Weather Conditions

Outside temperatures, humidity, and the sun’s intensity can all impact fuel efficiency. Summer rain storms and extremely hot roadways may increase rolling resistance, which can also whittle away your fuel economy.

Tips To Increase Summer Fuel Efficiency

Your driving style and vehicle condition can significantly affect your car’s fuel efficiency. Let’s review some ways to increase your summer gas mileage.

Clean & Organize Vehicle Interior

If you’ve been putting off cleaning out your car, now is the time to get it done. Replenish your emergency kit supplies, remove all trash, and pack away out-of-season items like: 

  • Snow chains
  • Ice melt, kitty litter, sand
  • Windshield ice scrapers 
  • Winter coats, hats, scarves

Driving with just 100 pounds of extra stuff in your trunk or backseat can significantly reduce summer gas mileage.

Drive The Speed Limit + Use Cruise Control

Following the posted speed limit is the safest way to drive, but it also improves your car’s fuel efficiency. Driving faster increases the wind resistance pushing against the vehicle, causing the engine to burn more gas to maintain the speed. Fuel efficiency decreases at speeds exceeding 50mph. Additionally, gentle braking and accelerating are other ways to preserve your gas mileage. Finally, use the car’s cruise control (when it is safe to do so) to help maintain a steady speed and optimize efficiency.

Keep Car Cool

If you must leave the car outside, try parking in the shade or use sunshades over your windshield and on the ‘sun side’ of the passenger windows. If you park in a secure location, leave a few windows open a little bit to release hot air build-up. It will help your vehicle stay cooler, so you’ll need less air conditioning when you drive again.

Manage Tire Air Pressure

Under-inflated tires may increase fuel consumption by 3%. In general, tires lose pressure over time, so inspect your tires regularly. According to Department of Transportation estimates, the average driver can boost their summer gas mileage by inflating tires to the factory-recommended air pressure. Because of temperature fluctuations, many motorists often drive on under-inflated or over-inflated tires. Invest in a quality air pressure gauge and inspect your tires frequently. You’ll find the correct tire pressure on the driver’s side door jam sticker. 

Reduce Idling

Engines are the most efficient at optimal operating temperatures. The quickest way to reach that ideal temperature is to start driving right after starting your vehicle. Idling in your driveway while waiting for your car to cool down can harm your summer gas mileage. Turn the A/C on after you begin moving with the windows down, allowing the heat to exit the cabin. Most HVAC systems cool the vehicle’s interior faster while driving.

Hybrids & EVs

Cool the interior of your plug-in hybrid or EV while still plugged into the charger. It may help extend your vehicle’s range. Don’t use the air conditioning at maximum (especially while idling), and set the temperature a little lower while driving to use less battery power.

Remove Bike & Roof Racks

An empty roof rack makes the average car about 3% less fuel-efficient. Of course, this number varies depending on your vehicle’s weight, overall efficiency, and the shape of your roof rack. Roughly half an engine’s power goes to overcoming wind resistance at highway speeds. Big kayaks, bikes, or storage containers with lots of bulky parts cause a lot of wind resistance. Remove them to be more fuel efficient – unless you routinely need to carry things on your roof or bike rack. You can always put it back on when needed.

It’s good to note that factory-installed roof rails (without anything secured to them) cause very little wind resistance and do not negatively affect summer gas mileage.

Summer Auto Maintenance in Ann Arbor, MI

Finally, I should mention that routine auto maintenance can also help improve car fuel efficiency. Regular oil changes, air filter replacements, tire rotations, and fluid inspections by a trusted auto service center can keep your vehicle running efficiently. Read your owner’s manual to find your factory-recommended auto maintenance intervals. Then, bring your car to Ron’s Garage in Ann Arbor, MI. Our family-run business has been supporting the automotive community in Ann Arbor since 1982.

Schedule Your Fuel Efficiency Appointment

Call us today at (734) 961-4701 or visit our website to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly service agents. We will be happy to discuss which auto maintenance services will help improve your summer gas mileage.