How to Get Better Gas Mileage on an SUVby Steve Smith
Driving an SUV has many advantages. They can provide better traction in the snow, they are able to traverse more difficult terrain, and you can haul more stuff to wherever you want to go. Not to mention the beauty of having four-wheel drive and a car that you can take camping. But there's a downside to having all that space and versatility, lower gas mileage. If you want to keep your SUV, and don't want to trade it in for an economy car, there's one thing you can do... learn how to get better gas mileage on an SUV. You won't have to take any driving courses, or re-learn how to drive, just follow a few simple steps and increase your SUV's gas mileage.
How to Get Better Gas Mileage on an SUV
The easiest thing to do is take out any unnecessary junk that may be adding weight to your vehicle. Keep only the things you need to be safe, like a tire jack, spare and emergency flares. Throw out that old motor you've been carting around, or that box of sand you kept in the car all winter (if it is now summer time), and lighten your load. You could add 'mpgs', depending on how well your SUV performs, if you lose a substantial amount of dead weight.
Remove that old car rack. If you are not going to be using that car roof rack on your SUV, take it off, and start getting better gas mileage on your SUV right away. A car rack adds a lot of drag, and depending on how well your SUV performs, it could save you a bundle on fuel costs.
Learn to drive your SUV a little more conservatively and you will get better gas mileage. Don't take your turns as fast, and lay off the gas when you accelerate and keep your speed low, even on the highway. Your SUV is a large vehicle so the faster it goes, the more energy it needs. Also, keeping a consistent speed and accelerating slower will keep your engine at a lower RPM, and therefore should give your SUV better gas mileage. Try it out, and you may be surprised at the gas mileage your SUV will get.
Keep your tires inflated to the tire pressure listed on the tires. Under-inflated tires create drag on the asphalt, so your SUV will get better gas mileage with just a simple five-minute stop at any gas station. Also, consider a tire that is more fuel-efficient for your vehicle. If you have off-road tires with large knobs made for gripping loose mud, gravel and sand, you may be sacrificing better gas mileage if you drive your SUV on smooth, city pavement.
Plan your trips with gas saving in mind, avoiding traffic, up-hill climbs, or winding roads. Combine smaller trips into one large trip, so your engine has time to warm up and performs at a higher level. Engines typically get better gas mileage when they have had a chance to warm up to the right temperature. As long as it doesn't add miles to your route, go to your closest destination last, and the farthest first, so your engine has a chance to warm up and run longer at the optimum temperature.
Perform all the proper maintenance. Get an oil change, service your engine, flush your SUV's transmission, change your air filters and always keep on top of your engine maintenance. Change the spark plugs, clean your grill, and keep the chasis lubed. This will prolong the life of your SUV's engine, and give you better gas mileage as your SUV gets older.
- Use synthetic motor oil in your SUV if you want to get better gas mileage, because it breaks down slower, causes less sludge and build-up.
- Be aware of your SUVs aerodynamics and remove anything that causes drag including flags, large spoilers or rear bike racks.
- Buying a hybrid SUV will also cut down on consumption. While not as efficient as a hybrid car, a hybrid SUV does get better gas mileage.
Things You'll Need
- Improved driving skills
- Do not remove anything from your car you may need like an extra car jack, or important parts, especially if you plan to go off-road.
- Follow your SUV's manufacturers guidelines before attempting to alter or change anything about your SUV, just to improve the gas mileage. Making alterations, blocking off your grill, or adding different tires could effect the safety and performance of your vehicle, it's not always about the mpgs.
Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.