If you’ve noticed that your full tank lasts longer in the summer than it does in the winter, you’ve already realized that cars get better gas mileage in the summer. Learn why this is and how to improve your gas mileage all year to prevent unnecessary gas station trips.   

How Hot Weather Affects Gas Mileage

Gas mileage, also known as miles per gallon (mpg), measures the number of miles a car can travel on one tank of gas.  

Gas mileage can improve in the summer for multiple reasons, the most common one being heat. When it gets hot, the temperature of the air helps your engine warm up faster and work more efficiently. To form carbon dioxide, or fuel, your vehicle combines oxygen molecules with carbon during combustion. The molecules in the air expand and spread out when heated, making the air less oxygen-dense than it would be in cold weather. Your engine uses less fuel to compensate and improve your gas mileage.  

Does Using Your AC Decrease Gas Mileage?

Cranking your AC to escape the summer heat can indeed decrease your gas mileage. However, while AC uses fuel, it consumes less energy than your car accessories in the winter. Heating systems are harder on fuel economy, in general, as they require more power to function than AC. In addition, inclement weather can cause you to use your headlights and spend time defrosting your vehicle, which all decrease gas mileage.  

How Can I Improve My Gas Mileage?

Here are some practical ways to improve your gas mileage all year: 

  1. De-clutter your vehicle. If you’ve been waiting for a sign to clean out your car—this is it. While you need to keep emergency supplies and other car accessories in your vehicle, driving with over 100 pounds of cargo can significantly reduce your fuel economy.  
  2. Limit idling. Like we mentioned earlier, idling in your driveway while waiting for your car to defrost in the winter or cool down in the summer can harm your fuel economy. If you’re afraid of stopping and re-starting your car, studies show that this uses less fuel than idling. In addition, vehicle manufacturers are now making cars that shut down their engines when they come to a full stop.  
  3. Maintain your vehicle. Dirty or malfunctioning parts can all lower your fuel economy over time. Visit a mechanic to make sure everything is in good shape and that your car is using fuel as efficiently as possible.  
  4. Check your tire pressure. Deflated tires can increase fuel consumption by 3%. Tires naturally lose pressure every month, so check your tires to make sure you aren’t losing money on something you can easily fix.  
  5. Avoid speeding. Obeying the speed limit is the safest way to drive, but did you know that it also improves your fuel economy? Once you surpass 50mph, fuel efficiency begins to decrease rapidly. Braking and accelerating gently is another way to preserve your fuel supplies.  

Now that you know how to improve your gas mileage, take these steps to make less frequent visits to the gas station. If you’re looking for a quality insurance policy to protect you throughout the seasons, get an insurance quote from The General or speak with an agent today.