We’ve all heard them: Little tips and tricks that promise better gas mileage for your car. But, what’s really fact or fiction? WRAL 5 On Your Side spoke with Consumer Reports auto tester Mike Quincy to look at what will help and what drivers shouldn’t bother with when it comes to savings.
Does premium gas really improve performance?
“A lot of people think, ‘If I buy, you know, high, the highest level octane gas, my car will magically perform better, it’ll be faster, it’ll get better fuel economy,’” Quincy said. “Absolutely not. Forget all that.”
Quincy said drivers should stick to lower price regular fuel, if possible.
“The only reason you should be putting premium fuel in your car is if your owner’s manual says premium fuel required,” Quincy said.
The U.S. has seen sharp increases in gas prices in recent weeks. The average gallon of gas costs Americans $4.25 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the American Automobile Association.
Gas in North Carolina is slightly lower than the national average. An average gallon of gas costs $4.13 in North Carolina as of Wednesday afternoon, according to AAA.
Keeping cool: Windows down or air conditioning on?
As temperatures get warmer, what’s more cost effective? Rolling the windows down or cranking the air conditioning?
“When you’re running the A/C it is causing the engine to work harder and you are reducing your fuel economy,” Quincy said.
When temps get to the 70s and 80s, Consumer Reports’ testing shows a 1-to-4 mile-per-gallon drop in fuel efficiency if you’re using A/C compared to no drop with the windows down.
Does cruise control really save gas?
Quincy says the key to those savings is setting a reasonable speed.
“I think cruise control is a good way to to drive consistently and steadily, and that will in turn save you gas,” Quincy said.
Can fuel additives really increase mileage or performance?
A fuel additive is a treatment drivers can add to their gasoline tanks which will prevent carbon buildup. Additives work to clean various parts of your fuel system components, such as your fuel injectors.
However, Quincy said they do not increase mileage or performance.
Make sure your tires have the correct pressure
The U.S. Department of Energy reports under-inflated tires can drop gas mileage about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires.
Low-cost tire pressure gauges are available at most auto supply stores. Many gas stations also offer them for free.
Climate also impacts tire pressure. Properly inflated tires in the winter can become overinflated when the temperatures increase because air inside the tires expand. Conversely, properly inflated tires during the summer can look flat when the weather turns cold and air inside tires contracts.