Your car’s gas mileage is no doubt important to you. Gas mileage and fuel economy are on everybody’s mind these days, but there are many unrecognized components to a successful gas mileage or fuel economy strategy. You’ll find them in the How to Save Gas Handbook (click here to purchase), but it is important to remember the essential core elements of a successful fuel economy plan even as you use all of your new-found knowledge to improving your car’s gas mileage. The core strategy for all successful fuel saving strategies centers on two key components: engine speed and inertia. The inertia component addresses the energy required to move the mass of the vehicle from a standing start and the momentum to keep it moving.  Overcoming the various forces that resist vehicle motion is a primary concern. These factors include vehicle weight (mass), aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance, frictional drag and other parasitic losses as detailed in the gas mileage handbook. They all affect the engine’s need to work harder to move the vehicle. Hence it is most productive to minimize their influence wherever possible.

cars gas mileage

Rising fuel costs are affecting your car's gas mileage

Your Cars Gas Mileage vs. Engine Speed and Inertia

The engine speed component is where the real fuel savings begin. Every time a cylinder fires it consumes a small, but significant amount of fuel. It follows that reduced engine speed and fewer power strokes per given distance translates to substantial fuel savings. The slower you run your engine, the more you will extend your car’s gas mileage. You can exercise greater control over this with a manual transmission because you can lug the engine in higher gears. Big torque domestic V8s are comfortable with minimal gear multiplication at low engine speeds and current V6 and inline 4-cylinder engines are also comfortable with lugging due to their electronically managed low-speed efficiency. Six cylinder engines are particularly suited to lugging because their power strokes overlap to a greater degree than a V8. While not necessarily practical, many of them can be comfortably lugged as low as 400-500 rpm. Once you have the vehicle moving there are fuel savings to be had with every reduction in engine speed.

This approach is less effective with an automatic transmission because many automatics are programmed to downshift at lower engine speeds. Nonetheless, you can still take advantage of this fuel economy tactic by minimizing power strokes with slower acceleration and the least possible engine speed consistent with the transmission’  s automatic shift points. These vary with load so the transmission will shift sooner if you are not hard into the gas pedal.

To improve your car’s gas mileage, it is best to shift as early as possible and get into high gear at the lowest engine speed as quickly as possible. Obviously fuel quality and the potential for power robbing detonation or pinging may resist your efforts, but you will quickly identify the extent of your vehicle’s performance capabilities based on engine speed versus inertia. Once you figure out the appropriate thresholds, you’ll figure out how to modify your driving style to merge the best elements of engine speed and inertia control versus your skill and comfort level in various traffic conditions. Raising your car’s gas mileage now is relatively easy to achieve for almost any car if you follow the basic rules presented in the How to Save Gas Handbook.

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