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10 Ways to Improve Your Gas Mileage

Squeaking More Miles Per Gallon Out of Your Pickup Truck

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We're all feeling a budget pinch from high fuel prices, and the crunch is making us more tuned-in to gas-saving alternatives. Many people have traded their large vehicles for something that uses less gas, but I need to drive a truck, and I have to pull a trailer, so trading it for a fuel efficient car isn't an option.

Increasing my truck's gas mileage is the best solution for me, and slight improvements are easy to accomplish just by staying aware of gas-saving basics and changing old habits. Here are a few ways to increase your gas mileage and help keep the air we all breathe a little cleaner.

Perform Regular Maintenance Tasks

Red truck at dusk under cloudy skies
Jetta Productions/Iconica/Getty Images

You'll use less gas if you keep your vehicle tuned and running like it should, and that includes monitoring your tires.

Read your owner's manual and make sure your tires are inflated as the manufacturer recommends, because under inflation creates a drag that lowers fuel economy. Don't forget about your truck's wheel alignment, because you won't get optimum gas mileage if the truck isn't rolling straight.

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Maintain Good Aerodynamics

It's a controversial topic, but I believe that installing a bed cover on your truck can help its aerodynamics. Air flows over the cover and off the back of the truck, instead of into the bed, where it pushes on the tailgate and creates drag that can make you use more gas.

Roof racks are handy sometimes, but carrying things on the roof creates another source of drag that can increase your gas consumption. Keep your roof clear unless you actually need to haul something from one place to another.

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Keep it Steady on the Road

Continuous up and down acceleration and braking reduces your fuel economy. Use your cruise control on the highway to help maintain a constant speed and take it slow and easy on starts and stops. Slow down a little in general if you can, because the truck uses more gas when you drive at higher speeds.

Use the Right Kind of Gas in Your Truck

Read your pickup truck's owner's manual to find out which type of gas the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle. Use a good brand of gas, one with detergent additives that keep the system clean, but don't buy more expensive premium if the automaker recommends regular.

Turn the Truck Off When You Can

If you're stopped in traffic, turn the vehicle off, don't sit there and idle for ten minutes.

Avoid drive-thru windows with long lines. Park the truck and go inside the bank, restaurant, pharmacy or other business.

Plan Your Route

Try to plan your trips to avoid congested, high-traffic areas with repeated traffic snarls and stop-and-go driving.

Use Your Truck's A/C Less Often

Air conditioning makes your pickup truck use more gas, so turn it off when you can and try the vents instead.

Reduce the A/C's load by parking in the shade so that the truck doesn't heat up as much during short stops. Leave the windows or sunroof cracked slightly if you'll be right back or if you're close enough to run out and shut them if a rain shower erupts.

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Combine Trips

Try to combine your errands so that you can get everything you need during one trip, especially if you live a distance from shopping areas.

Don't Haul Items You Don't Need

You'll improve your gas mileage if you lighten up the load. I admit that I'm often guilty of carting around extra tools and supplies -- things that would be just as well left at home. We can all improve our fuel economy by removing unnecessary weight from the truck bed or cargo area.

Carpool or Ride a Bike

It's not always possible, but carpooling can save you a lot of dollars in fuel bills. Carpooling drivers are allowed to use less congested Interstate highway lanes in many cities during rush hours, so you might even get to work faster.

Consider public transportation if you live in a city or town that provides it.

Ride a bicycle for short trips, or walk to your destination. You won't use any gas at all and you'll be a step ahead with your daily exercise.

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