Consumer Reports tests show ways to get most out of gallon of gas


The tank is full and the kids are packed, but do you know how to get the most out of what you're paying at the pump? Consumer Reports' latest tests show how you drive and what you carry can make a big difference in the mileage you get.

Fueling up is never a favorite stop.

"Ten years ago when I bought the car, it was about $20. Now it's $42," one driver said.

While you can't control the cost of gas, you can control how far you go on a gallon of gas.

Consumer Reports testers used a fuel meter to put several cars through their paces at 55, 65 and 75 miles per hour.

"While it may not be surprising that when you drive faster, you use more fuel; you may be surprised about how much fuel you actually use," Consumer Reports' Jake Fisher said.

Take the four-cylinder Honda Accord LX. At 55 miles per hour, it gets an impressive 50 miles per gallon. But at 65, it drops to 42 miles per gallon, and going 75, it drops to 36 miles per gallon.

"We also tested the Toyota RAV4 and three versions of the Ford Fusion, including the hybrid. And we found similar results with all of them," Fisher said.

Loading your car for road trips also cuts your fuel efficiency, including adding a bike rack.

Remember the Honda Accord at 65 miles per hour getting 42 miles per gallon? With a bike rack, fuel efficiency drops to 37. Add a wind deflector, and surprisingly, it drops again to 35 miles per gallon. Now add two bikes, and the mileage sinks to 27 miles per gallon.

"So if you're not using your bike rack, take it off because it really is going to hurt your fuel efficiency," Fisher said.

A lighter load and a lighter foot on the pedal definitely add up to savings at the pump.

A rooftop luggage carrier can also cut your fuel efficiency up to six miles per gallon.

Also check to make sure your tires are properly inflated. Under-inflated tires hurt your fuel economy, too.

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