When it comes to gas mileage, city driving with the air conditioning on can equal the worst results. We’ve all seen the EPA stickers on new cars. The city number is not only much lower than the highway mileage, but for many of us it will be the number we see most often.
Extremely aggressive driving habits in the city with the air conditioning on can turn bad numbers into horrible numbers that will make you scratch your head at the gas pump. When you’re trying to improve the cars overall fuel economy throttle position will have the greatest impact on your bottom line results.
When it comes to improving city miles per gallon turning off your air conditioning whenever possible can help improve fuel economy. Some experts say that rolling down the windows ruins the aerodynamics. This is true, but at low speeds between 25 and 35 mph, rolling down the windows is not a big deal like it is when cruising on the highway.
The advantages of turning off your air conditioning will depend greatly on the year make and model of the vehicle. The older the automobile the bigger the advantage of turning off the cars air conditioning compressor.
More modern vehicles have variable displacement compressors that put fewer loads on the engine. As far as hybrid vehicles this also depends on the year and model. Early hybrid vehicles used standard automotive air conditioning systems.
On some models when the AC was turned on the gas engine would run all the time just to drive the compressor. Modern hybrids use electrically driven AC compressors that are much more efficient.
Improving City Driving Mileage
Obviously getting your automobile out on the highway and observing a 55 mile an hour speed limit is the best way to achieve higher miles per gallon.
Many of us are forced to do more than our share of city driving. Stop and go traffic and sitting at a light while the vehicle is idling and burning fuel while not rolling forward will lower your average. Whenever possible try to do your city driving outside of rush hour or traffic jam conditions. For me this sometimes means putting in some overtime at work.
Several coworkers got approval from their bosses to adjust their shift start times two hours earlier. This lets them get to work before the traffic builds and releases them before rush hour. Sometimes none of this is possible and we are forced to sit in traffic.
Rolling down the windows and turning off the AC can help. Reducing the overall electrical load on your vehicle could also make tiny improvements. Charge your cell phone at work instead of plugging into the cigarette lighter. If your vehicle has heated seats and other fancy electronics like GPS and DVD systems turn them off and measure the results.
As I discussed on other pages in this increasing fuel economy section keeping up on your vehicle maintenance such as tire pressure, oil changes and installing a clean air filter will give you the best chance at achieving the highest gas mileage.
Tools for Increasing Fuel Economy
Although you shouldn’t have wild expectations, I don’t see why you couldn’t at least achieve the numbers printed on the window sticker supplied from the EPA. The city and highway mileage should be monitored and compared to those numbers at least once a year even if you’re not interested in stretching your miles per gallon.
Recording these numbers on a weekly basis can help motivate you to try to increase the figures. For me the best motivation is reducing the pain at the pump. My vehicle is equipped with an instant and average fuel mileage indicator I watch religiously.
My girlfriend’s car on the other hand does not have a fuel monitor computer. So we added one to help improve her driving habits. It’s mounted in the center of her instrument cluster right in between her tachometer and speedometer.
Every time she looks at her dash her current fuel economy is staring right back at her. Adding this device has improved her driving habits and gas mileage. Your results might be different depending on your level of motivation. Bookmark this gas mileage page or share it with a friend that is desperately trying to improve their miles per gallon.
The Government has put together some impressive resources on this subject. I particularly like the track your fuel economy option that allows you to compare your actual numbers with what the EPA has rated your vehicle for.
For more information about what else is available on the auto-facts.org website this next link will take you to the homepage. There is also information about how to get involved by submitting your story and results with trying to squeeze more MPG from your ride or ask car repair questions.