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How hot weather can increase your car's fuel economy and summer gas saving tips

In the summer, your car's engine can reach an efficient temperature more quickly, and summer-grade fuel can have slightly more energy, according to the EPA.

SEATTLE — Editor's note: The above video about the possibility of a state gas tax suspension in Washington originally aired on June 22, 2022.

Drivers could begin to see a perk of hot summer weather when checking their fuel gauge: warmer temperatures can actually increase your car's fuel economy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

With gas prices continuing to rise, many drivers are looking for ways to save on fuel and use the fuel they do have more efficiently. Fortunately, there are a few factors that can make that easier during the summer. 

When temperatures rise, a car's engine warms up to an efficient temperature faster and summer-grade gasoline can have slightly more energy than it does in the winter, according to the EPA. This can increase how far your car can go on one tank of gas. 

However, there are several summertime behaviors that can actually decrease your car's fuel economy drastically. Under very hot conditions, running your car's AC can reduce a conventional vehicle's fuel economy by 25%, according to a study cited by the EPA. Driving with your car's windows down at high speeds can also increase the wind resistance against your car, forcing your vehicle to use more energy to push through the air.

Here are some tips from the EPA, the Consumer Federation of America and  AAA to get the most out of your car's fuel economy while staying comfortable in the hot summer weather: 

  • To regulate the temperature in your car while increasing fuel economy, roll down your windows at lower speeds and switch to using your AC at highway speeds. 
  • Drive with the windows open for a short time before turning on the AC to allow hot air out of your vehicle. This will help your car cool faster.
  • Don't idle your car with the AC on before starting to drive. Most AC systems will cool the vehicle faster while driving.  
  • Remove unused roof racks, tail hitch racks and rooftop boxes, which can increase wind resistance. 
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can cause a loss of 2.8% in fuel efficiency. 
  • Slow down on the highway. Gas mileage can decrease rapidly over 60 mph.
  • Use cruise control on long drives. The cruise control system can keep speed constant and save fuel.

    

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