How to Maximize Gas Mileage of a Used Car

Posted Thursday, Jul 22, 2021

With average gas prices hovering above the $3 mark, and no downward trend in sight, finding ways to maximize gas mileage of a used car is becoming critical.

Many used car purchasers look for a higher mpg, an important part of the car shopping process for sure. But to stretch your dollar even further, here are some great tips on how to make every mile per gallon count.

Tips to Maximize Gas Mileage of a Used Car

Don’t Idle

Sitting in your car while it is just running makes things less fuel efficient. If your stops last more than roughly 30 seconds to a minute, just turn off your vehicle. Turning your engine off and back on will use less gas than wasting the fuel it takes to keep the engine running.

Think about that while you are sitting at a long traffic light, railroad stops, the bank, and fast-food lines. Some experts suggest your fuel consumption could be reduced by as much as 2-3 miles per gallon!

Bottom Line: If you don’t need to use the fuel then don’t use it.

Slow Down

If you’ve ever driven with passengers, chances are you’ve heard these words (thank you backseat drivers). But they are onto something. Studies show that driving more than 50 miles per hour your gas mileage starts dropping.

In fact, you’re likely to pay 20 cents more for every 5 miles per hour over 50. One study showed that a car that was driving 55 got 20 miles per gallon but when it drove at 75 the mpg reduced to 16!

Bottom Line: Optimal driving speed according to the experts? 40-55 miles per hour.

Maintain Your Ride

Keeping your vehicle on a regular schedule of wheel alignments, oil changes, filter checks, and tire rotations is vital. Not only does this help reduce the chance of costly repairs but each piece helps your car run at optimal levels.

Bottom Line: Keep your ride healthy. Clean filters, new oil, and tire rotations are especially important to fuel consumption. Don’t make your car work any harder than it needs to keep you moving.

Weather Check

The summer and winter are when your vehicles comfort controls get the most use. But it’s the dog days that are the worst when it comes to gas mileage. There is debate on whether using the air conditioner or unrolling the windows is better to maximize gas mileage of a used car. Using the air uses fuel, but unrolling windows can cause aerodynamic issues causing your car to work harder – thus using fuel.

Bottom Line: Try to keep trips to cooler hours in the summer – mornings, late evenings. That way the temperature decreases the likelihood of you having to make the choice.

Drive Better

We’ve all heard of bad drivers. The ones who cut people off, weave in and out of traffic, stomp on brakes, accelerate quickly, or take stupid risks. This is aggressive driving. Not assertive, aggressive.

Not only is driving assertively better for safety, it can also benefit your pocketbook. The Department of Energy says that driving aggressively can decrease fuel efficiency by up to 33% on the highway and 5% in the city.

Bottom Line: It takes more energy to be a jerk on the road – in more ways than one. Mind your manners.

Tired Tires

Keeping your tires properly inflated can maximize gas mileage of a used car by up to 3%! A mere underinflation by 10 can reduce mileage to as much as 2% - a 1.3 miles per gallon effect.

Bottom Line: Check your PSI about once a month.

Lighten Your Load

Remove any excess weight. If there’s no need for you to have that bike rack, extra stuff in the back, or cargo case on the roof then remove it. Experts say that by lightening your load by 100 pounds can increase your mileage by at least 1 mile per gallon.

Bottom Line: If you don’t use it, lose it. By removing extra stuff in and on your vehicle, you are creating extra room and makes for better aerodynamics. Plus, it keeps your vehicle cleaner and your ride smoother.

Get a Tank-full

We’ve all been there. We’re at the gas pump and the pump stops when the tank is full. We might try to squeeze the gas handle for a split second or two just to get an even number on the money or gas line. But did you k now that can cause problems?

Overfilling the tank can cause spillage and that causes fumes which are of course harmful to the environment. But, it also cause excess pressure on the tank and flood the carbon filter canister – which can end up costing hundreds in repairs.

Plus, once a tank is full, there isn’t any more room for gas to pump into it so it gets pushed back into the pump anyway – even if it’s been paid for. This is a safety precaution to prevent excess vapors from harming the environment.

On the flip side, running your vehicle on the less than half scale causes your fuel pump to work harder and suck up debris and water that may live at the bottom of your tank. This causes clogged filters, which we all know is bad.

Bottom Line: Keep your tank no less than ¾ empty and let the sensor do its job. For the OCDer’s out there, is it really a big deal that the numbers aren’t even?

Extra Tips

  • Let your vehicle warm up before putting it into action - but keep it short.
  • Accelerate at a slow and steady pace to avoid gear shift problems as well as strain on the fuel.
  • Regular oil and filter checks are a must to keep things running smoothly and cost-effectively.
  • Use cruise control on the highway.
  • Keep the road rage out of your life – no one needs the extra stress and anger anyway.
  • If you are running low on gas and need to stretch it as much as possible, keep your driving slow and steady.
  • Keep external cargo in the rear as much as possible to reduce wind resistance.
  • Use energy efficiency oil.
  • Slow down gradually before stopping.
  • Keep a steady pace when driving.
  • Speed up gradually.
  • Some experts say to fill up in the morning or late evening because the gas is denser – that means you get more gas for the same amount of money.

Buyer Beware

Not all engines are the same. Make sure you take note of the following when analyzing the type of engine.

Flex Fuel: Uses ethanol which is cleaner than gas so it’s better for the environment but gives you slightly less miles per gallon.

PZEV: (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles) Which runs cleaner for the air but has no effect on fuel efficiency.

GDI: (Gasoline Direct Injection) This has a great miles per gallon number, but some engines have a bit of hesitation and loss of power.

What We’ve Got

City Wide Motors has a wide range of used vehicles to choose from. From gas-guzzlers to hybrids. From sports cars to SUV’s. Our pre-owned vehicle inventory includes full details of the vehicle including towing capacity, exterior and interior features, gas mileage, consumption, engine details and more.

Our top ten in stock vehicles with the best miles per gallon rate are:

  1. 2013 Dodge Avenger – 21 City/29 Highway
  2. 2012 Buick Verano – 21 City/32 Highway
  3. 2013 Chevy Equinox – 22 City/22 Highway
  4. 2010 Chevy Malibu – 22 City/30 Highway
  5. 2012 Chevy Equinox – 22 City/32 Highway
  6. 2011 Nissan Altima – 23 City/32 Highway
  7. 2013 Toyota Camry – 25 City/35 Highway
  8. 2015 Ford Focus – 26 City/38 Highway
  9. 2013 Hyundai Elantra – 28 City/38 Highway
  10. 2011 Toyota Prius – 51 City/48 Highway (Hybrid)

Make sure to visit our site for more information about any of these or other cars as well as our used vehicle financing options. We want to help you get a great used car at an affordable price with maximum gas mileage.