Friday, February 15, 2013

How I Improved My MPG from 30 to 36

We all know that the gas became expensive. I recall the days when it was under $1 per gallon (in late 90s). It is now $4.20 or so here, in the beautiful Southern California.

In our 2007 Honda Accord 2.4L automatic, we used to get 30 mpg on average. We are now getting 35-36 mpg without any crazy technological innovations or magical devices. It is pretty easy to do. For the environment, your wallet and world peace, I challenge you to save gas the way we do.


  1. Most important step: depending on your car, you may get best fuel economy in a specific range of speeds. It can be speeds under 40 mph for hybrids or between 45-60 mph for regular cars. In our case, I drive (in the right lane, without impeding other traffic) at 57-60 mph instead of the previous 65-70+ mph. I spend a couple of more minutes per 50-mile commute, which only means I spend a couple more minutes listening to music while driving.
  2. Accelerate at less than full throttle.
  3. Try to coast to decelerate or to stop. Use brakes as little as possible.
  4. Inflate the tires to slightly higher pressure than recommended by your car's manual (not to exceed the max inflation pressure on the tire sidewall). We use 35 psi instead of the recommended 31 psi.
  5. Remove unneeded junk that adds weight. This step actually saves little (if you only have below 100 lbs or so extra junk in the car).
  6. Use the grade of motor oil as thin as specified by your car's manufacturer. Do not use thicker oil.
  7. Have the car maintenance up to date.
  8. Use low rolling resistance tires. My 2004 Infiniti G35 produced a 2-3 mpg jump when switching from Yokohama YK520 to low rolling resistance Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires.
Things That Don't Seem to Matter

  1. Cleanliness of the air filter in modern fuel-injected cars does not affect the mpg (but does in older, carburetor-based designs).
  2. Air conditioning use. I know it should matter, but in my cars the difference is negligible.
  3. Using premium gas when your car's manual specifies that it requires regular.
Bottom Line

Most fuel economy improvement is achieved by changing your driving style. By simply driving 10-12 mph slower and using brakes less, we improved our MPG by 20%. Not only does it save money and environment, we don't have to fill up as often as we used to, so at least some extra time  spent driving at slower speeds is recouped by having to spend less time refueling.

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