Learn to Conserve Fuel

As fuel costs fluctuate and concerns about the environment increase, many drivers are wondering what they can do to conserve fuel. To help you address these concerns, we’ve assembled a list of the top Eco-Driving Tips.

We call it Eco-Driving because these habits have both economical and ecological benefits.

Drive to maximize your fuel economy

Don’t drive aggressively (up to 33%)
Simply put, aggressive driving wastes gas. This includes tactics such as jackrabbit starts (rapidly accelerating from a stop), stopping short (braking hard at the last possible second) and weaving (constantly changing lanes to get around other cars). At highway speeds, this behavior can be costly, reducing your fuel economy by as much as 33%. It can also contribute to premature wear on your brakes and tires.

Slow down (up to 25%)
Another form of aggressive driving – speeding – can be a big fuel waster. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Reducing your speed from 65 to 55 mph can improve your fuel economy by 10% to 15% and reducing your speed from 70 to 55 mph can improve your fuel economy by a whopping 25%. So what’s your hurry?

Use cruise control
This helps you save fuel in two ways. First, it controls your maximum speed, which can help you stay below 60 mph. Second, it maintains a constant speed, which means you won’t be pumping extra fuel into your engine to accelerate. Many modern vehicles will let you monitor your mpg while you’re driving. You should aim to set your cruise control at your vehicle’s most fuel-efficient speed, as long as it’s at or below the legal limit.

Remove excess weight (up to 4% per 100 lbs)
Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your trunk or back seat could reduce your miles per gallon by up to 4%. So think about whether or not you really want your toolbox, golf clubs and bowling ball with you wherever you go.

Reduce your drag
Your vehicle is designed with efficient aerodynamics in mind. Even with that, 50% of the energy required to operate most vehicles is spent overcoming wind resistance. Car-top carriers, rooftop bike racks and even those plastic window flags for your favorite sports team can all add resistance and cut down your fuel efficiency, especially at high speeds. Washing and waxing your vehicle can actually help your aerodynamics too.

Save A/C for the highway (up to 15%)
Your air conditioning makes your engine work harder, which can equate to as much as a 10% to 15% reduction in fuel efficiency when outdoor temperatures climb above 80° Fahrenheit. For city driving or in heavy traffic, turn your air conditioning off and roll down the windows if you can stand the heat. At speeds of 50 mph or more, however, the drag created by your open windows will actually cost you more in fuel economy than the A/C. So feel free to roll your windows up and use the air on the highway if you need to.

Combine trips
Your engine works most efficiently when it’s warmed up. Making lots of sporadic short trips means more cumulative driving with a cold engine. When you have to drive for errands, get as many accomplished as you can in one trip – that way, you’ll be optimizing your fuel economy.

Avoid excessive idling
This one’s a no-brainer. An engine that’s not running uses no fuel, while idling gets zero mpg. If you know you’ll stop for a while (such as when picking up a friend who isn’t ready yet or waiting for a passenger to run into the store), it’s always better to turn off your engine. (Never turn off your engine while waiting at traffic lights, though.) Vehicles with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than ones with smaller engines, so this is even more important to keep in mind if you drive a truck.

Save fuel with proper vehicle maintenance
Use the right oil (up to 2%)
You can improve your gas mileage by up to 2% by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Your recommended grade can be found in your Owner Guide, but it can vary depending on your driving conditions. Our experts have a full line of Motorcraft® oil and filter products on hand and will use the correct grade for your vehicle every time you come in for an oil change.

Keep your tires properly inflated (up to 4%)
Under-inflated tires are less safe, wear out faster and waste fuel, causing drivers to lose as many as 2 million gallons of gas per day. Keeping your tires inflated to the proper level can help improve your gas mileage by around 3% to 4%. The operating vehicle tire inflation pressure that Ford Motor Company certifies and recommends for normal use is found on a Certification Decal or Tire Decal, usually located on the driver’s door or door pillar, or the glove box. (Tire pressure information does NOT appear in the Owner Guide, as the government requires it to be permanently affixed to the vehicle.) Make sure not to exceed that number, though, because over-inflated tires can be just as bad.

Keep your engine tuned (up to 40%)
Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve gas mileage by an average of 4%. But here’s the real bonus – if our experts find a malfunctioning oxygen sensor, replacing it can improve your mileage by as much as 40%.

Don’t forget the little things (up to 25%)
There’s no better thing you can do for your vehicle than getting regular maintenance at your local Ford or Lincoln Dealership. We’ve already mentioned changing your oil and keeping your tires properly inflated. Wheel alignments, shock and strut inspections, and replacing worn fuel filters or spark plugs can all help optimize your fuel economy too. Together, all these vehicle maintenance operations can improve your mileage by up to 25%. If you haven’t been following your maintenance schedule, coming in for the Works Fuel Saver Package is a great way to start.

Things to keep in mind when you fill up
Tighten the cap
Your gas tank needs both fuel and fumes for your engine to work most efficiently, so if your vehicle has a gas cap, make sure to tighten it all the way after every fill-up. Many modern cars are actually designed to turn on the “check engine” light if they detect a bad seal at the gas cap.

Fill up in the dark
Fueling generates fewer vapors when it’s cool and dark outside, so fill up in the early morning or late evening. While the difference in your monetary savings is very small, the less vapor in the atmosphere, the better it is for the environment.

Use the correct octane
The engineers who built your engine designed it to work most efficiently with a certain octane-rated fuel, which you can find in your Owner Guide. Anything below this will adversely affect your fuel economy. And anything above it will just cost you more money with no real benefit.