City driving has a profoundly negative effect on gas mileage. Driving in the city is composed of a lot of stop and go, with multiple traffic lights, stop signs, and low speed limits. This causes your vehicle to be in lower transmission gears which tends to decrease fuel economy in favor of providing quicker acceleration within the city. There are additional pitfalls to city driving that lose gas mileage such as idling your car through Drive Thru windows at fast food restaurants, warming your car before driving off in the morning, and getting stuck in traffic. Here are some useful ways to improve fuel economy when driving around the city
1. Do not accelerate quickly away from green lights when at a stop. Instead go very easy on the throttle and slowly accelerate from a dead stop. This can save more gas than you think and is a very important method of saving gas. Expect a few % increase in your gas mileage using this tactic.
2. Using Drive Thru’s to pick up fast food. Don’t do it! Instead park in the lot and go inside to order your food to go. The extra 10 minutes you may wait idling your car in line at the Drive Thru can save you almost a quarter of a gallon of gas! This is an easy change that can make some serious difference in fuel economy. Try it!
3. Do not spend excessive time warming your vehicle before you drive off in the morning. Start the car and slowly proceed. The extra time wasted waiting for the engine to heat up wastes valuable gas.
4. Check the section on Excessive Idling for more tips related to idling in traffic and what you can do to stop wasting gas and money.
We combined several of the tips above when changing our city driving habits including driving slowly away from stop lights, never staying in drive thru lines, and not waiting to warm the car in the morning when we drive off. We gained an average of 2 mpg with these methods which for us was about a 10% increase in fuel economy. We recommend trying a few of these techniques together to get the most benefit. Of course you must log your fuel economy week to week and record your progress to note your fuel improvement. Luckily most newer vehicles do this within the car on your dashboard displays. With older vehicles you must either purchase a product such as Scangauge which logs your fuel mileage for you, or log it make logging gas mileage easier.