It goes without saying that gas prices are making everyone’s financial lives a bit more “interesting.” I am hearing rumors that it could be as high as $5 a gallon this summer. So I scoured the Internet looking for the best tips I could find to save gas and here is what I found….
THE MOST EFFECTIVE GAS SAVING TIPS
Edmunds.com did a real-world test of a few of the common gas saving tips to see how they stacked up and these were the tips they found to be most important.
1. Stop Aggressive Driving
In their road tests this was the most important factor in saving gas. They found up to a 37% savings with an average of 31% savings. That is like getting $4.00 gas for $2.69 – it sounds like a no-brainer, but I am still amazed at how many people still drive like they just robbed a bank. Edmunds says, “If you slowed your 0-to-60-mph acceleration time down from your current 10 seconds to a more normal city pace of 15 seconds, you’ll feel the savings immediately.”
2. Drive Slower
This one is a difficult one to get used to. Personally, I find that I am just more comfortable driving at certain speeds. 55mph on the highway isn’t in my comfort
zone, but I have tried to make a point to drive 5 mph slower than I used to and believe it or not I am getting used to it.
Their test consisted of driving 50 miles on cruise control at 75mph and 65mph. They found that by driving slower you can save up to 14% with an average of 12%. Not to mention the savings from not having to pay speeding tickets.
3. Cruise Control does save gas
In my research to find all these gas tips, I found that there is some debate on this issue, but I think I am leaning toward using cruise control – I think it depends on the type of driver you are and the size of engine you have. But for most people, in my humble opinion, I think you would save more by using it.
Edmunds was surprised by the effectiveness of using it. They got up to 14% savings on gas with an average savings of 7%. That would equate to about a 25 cent discount on each gallon. The exception to this is for mountainous driving. It will try to keep you up to the speed you’ve set and will use a lot of extra gas downshifting to lower gears to accomplish this.
4. Avoid Excessive Idling
Another one they found to be important is not to idle very long. They said that by avoiding excessive idling you can save up to 19% on fuel consumption. They suggest that if you are stopped for longer than a minute to shut down the engine.
NOT AS IMPORTANT AS SOME THINK
5. Should you use A/C or windows to save gas?
This is another hot topic among the gas-saving tips. A/C’s have become more efficient over the years, but they do put a strain on the engine. And of course having the windows open will create more wind-resistance than not having them open. But, their tests found no measurable difference in fuel consumption.
Personally, I love having the windows open. But another thing to consider is the health factor. If you are driving in a lot of traffic, you may be breathing a lot more of the exhaust by having the windows open. Many cars have cabin air-filters that (at least try to) filter the air that comes in to the car. I don’t know how well they work, but I would think it is better than not having a filter at all.
6. Checking Your Tire Pressure
Keeping your tires properly inflated is another common gas saving tip. They say they saw no measurable difference on this test. They still recommend keeping them properly inflated, but they say not to expect much savings.
I have been doing this one over the last few years. I thought I had an improvement each time I filled them to the proper level when they were very low. Since I didn’t measure it I am wondering if it was just all in my mind.
Other Gas Saving Tips
The art of driving to save gas
7. Drive steadily. Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Also avoid tailgating – the driver in front of you is unpredictable. Not only is it unsafe, but it affects your fuel economy if he slows down unexpectedly.
8. When you see a hill ahead, build up speed before you reach it, then maintain your speed on the slope. Then coast down the other side.
9. Avoid accelerating when driving uphill. It uses a lot of gas. If your car has a display that shows your instantaneous gas mileage, try it out. You’ll see your mileage plummet — from 25 or 30 MPG… down to 6 MPG — or sometimes even as low as 2 or 3 MPG.
10. When driving, keep your eyes moving and your feet still! Keep your steering wheel still too. The more you weave back and forth, the farther your car has to travel and the more gas is consumed.
11. If you must stop for more than 30 seconds, don’t idle your car. The engine is more fuel efficient if your turn it off and restart it.
12. Avoid “revving” the engine, especially just before you switch the engine off; this wastes fuel needlessly and wears out the cylinders.
13. Eliminate jack-rabbit starts. Accelerate slowly when starting from dead stop. Don’t push the pedal down more than 1/4 of the total foot travel.
14. Avoid panic stops. When possible, coast to stops such as traffic lights.
15. Don’t forget to release the emergency brake before pulling away.
16. Exceeding 40 mph forces your car to overcome tremendous wind resistance. Never exceed legal speed limit. Primarily they are set for your traveling safety, however better gas efficiency also occurs.
17. Traveling at 55 mph give you up to 21% better mileage when compared to former legal speed limits of 65 mph and 70 mph.
18. Use only your right foot for accelerating and braking. That way you can’t accidentally ride the brake and use excessive gas. The slightest pressure puts “mechanical drag” on components, wearing them down prematurely. This “dragging” also demands additional fuel usage.
19. Manual shift driven cars allow you to change to the highest gear as soon as possible, thereby letting you save gas if you “nurse it along”. However, if you cause the engine to “bog down”, premature wearing of engine parts occurs.
20. Shift into high gear as soon as possible. If you have automatic transmission, lift your foot from the accelerator about one second early.
21. Automatic transmissions should be allowed to cool down when your car is idling at a standstill, e.g. railroad crossings, long traffic lights, etc. Place gear into neutral position. This reduces strain on the transmission and allows it to cool.
22. If you have a manual transmission and want to save some gas, you need to shift up early and shift down late. Traveling at fast rates in low gears can consume up to 45% more fuel than is needed.
23. Pass other cars as soon as you see you are overtaking them. Don’t wait.
24. Stoplights are usually timed for your motoring advantage. By traveling steadily at the legal speed limit you boost your chances of having the “green light” all the way.
25. When you use overdrive gearing, your car’s engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.
26. Turn off the A/C five minutes before you reach your destination and don’t keep it working until the last second.
27. Park your car in the shade if you can and crack your windows to allow air to circulate in the car, so you won’t have to keep the AC working as hard when you go somewhere.
28. Park car so that you can later begin to travel in forward gear; avoid reverse gear maneuvers to save gas.
PLANNING THE TRIP
Thinking to save gas
29. Before getting into your car, ask yourself “Is this trip really necessary?”
30. For short trips, try walking or bicycling. It’s good exercise.
31. Consider car-pooling and share the gas bill. Car pools reduce travel monotony and gas expense, assuming all riders chip in to help you buy. Conversation helps to keep the driver alert. Pooling also reduces traffic congestion and gives the driver easier maneuverability. For best results, distribute passenger weight evenly throughout car.
32. Organize activities and perform as many errands as possible in one trip. Make a list and do all the grocery shopping once or twice a week.
33. If possible, avoid driving during rush-hour & other peak traffic periods.
34. Do they deliver? Let them pay for the gas! Try mail order firms, too.
35. Let the kids run some of the errands. Let them walk to school, too.
36. Better planning reduces the need for speeding to get there in time.
37. Shop around for service stations with the lowest gasoline prices. – also use GASBUDDY!!
38. Keep tuned to radio traffic reports & avoid traffic jams and other delays.
39. Public transportation may be cheaper, especially when you are traveling alone.
40. Pack as little in your car as necessary so it has less weight to carry.
41. Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel can rob you of up to 30% of your gas mileage.
42. Avoid heavy traffic and lots of traffic lights. The shortest route is not always the most fuel efficient if you have to stop a lot.
43. Use alternate roads when safer, shorter, straighter. Compare traveling distance differences – remember that corners, curves and lane jumping requires extra gas. The shortest distance between two points is always straight.
WHEN BUYING A CAR
Look for high MPGs
44. If you are in the market for a new car, you definitely should consider fuel efficiencies. Consider a hybrid just for the better fuel economy if I weren’t in the market for a new car. You can easily calculate how much money you would save a year and weigh that against the cost of the car (plus the potentially higher maintenance cost).
45. In hot climates, drive a car with light colored exterior and interior, to reflect light, heat. Tinted glass also prevents heat buildup. Stay away from Black! I have owned black and beige cars and I can tell you that black cars get a lot hotter than lighter colors. Therefore with a black car you will need to use the A/C more often.
46. Operate as small a car as possible for your driving needs. (Small cars weighing half as much as large cars use about half as much gasoline!)
47. Avoid cars with gas-consuming options such as air conditioning; power equipment such as window, door locks, etc.; automatic transmission, etc.
48. When buying a new car, keep in mind that a sunroof helps disturb smooth air flow (and gas mileage).
49. It’s not commonly known, but Diesel engines can give you a much better gas mileage than Hybrids on long distance drives. That’s one of the reasons, hybrids aren’t popular in Europe but Diesels are. The downside is that diesel fuel costs a good chunk more than unleaded right now.
50. Buy gasoline during coolest time of day – early morning or late evening is best. During these times gasoline is densest. Keep in mind -gas pumps measure volumes of gasoline, not densities of fuel concentration. You are charged according to “volume of measurement”. (I know the effectiveness of this one is debated, but it won’t hurt.)
52. Avoid filling the gas tank to the top. Overfilling results in sloshing over and out of tank. Never fill gas tank past the first “click” of fuel nozzle, if nozzle is automatic. It could also leak or spill in heat or on a hill.
53. Set the Pump Trigger on lowest position.
54. If a gasoline truck is pumping into the storage tanks, don’t buy.
55. Don’t fill up unless you are on empty, since all this gas weighs a lot and more weight reduces efficiency.
THE CAR ITSELF
Seasonal fuel-saving tips
56. Auto air conditioners can reduce fuel economy by 10% to 20%. Heater fan, power windows and power seats increase engine load; the more load on your engine, the fewer miles per gallon.
57. Use snow tires and/or chains as little as necessary because they make your car work harder and use more gasoline.
58. Remove snow tires during good weather seasons; traveling on deep tire treads really robs fuel!
59. During cold weather watch for icicles frozen to car frame. Up to 100 lbs. can be quickly accumulated! Unremoved snow and ice cause tremendous wind resistance. Warm water thrown on (or hosed on) will eliminate it fast.
60. Avoid prolonged warming up of engine, even on cold mornings – 30 to 45 seconds is plenty of time.
61. Keep wheels aligned for better gas mileage – longer tire life, too.
62. Make certain your gas cap fits properly.
63. Keep brakes properly adjusted. Dragging brakes increases resistance.
64. It’s not a bad idea to make sure there are no gas leaks. Gas spilling out on the road doesn’t help your mileage either.
65. Regular tune-ups ensure best economy; check owner’s manual for recommended maintenance intervals. Special attention should be given to maintaining clean air filters… diminished air flow increases gas waste.
66. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for occasional misalignment. Bent wheels, axles, bad shocks, broken springs, etc., create engine drag and are unsafe at high traveling speeds.
67. Inflate all tires to maximum limit. Each tire should be periodically spun, balanced and checked for out-of-round. When shopping for new tires, get large diameter tires for rear wheels. Check manufacturer’s specifications for maximum tire pressures.
Good idea adjustments to your car
68. Get a locking gas cap – stolen gas really hurts your MPGs
69. You can also try to reduce the mass of your car by emptying out the trunk and removing heavy items that you don’t need (keep your spare tire and car lift, but get rid of the gardening equipment). Extra weight reduces mileage, especially when driving up inclines.
70. If you drive a car with a car top carrier, bike rack, or really any thing attached to it, you may want to take it off to reduce air drag.
71. Remove vinyl tops – they cause air drag. Rough surfaces disturb otherwise smooth air flow around a car’s body. Remove items that cause wind resistance, such as luggage racks.
72. Use radial tires for less friction between tire and road. Radial designs are the recognized fuel-savers.
73. By using the recommended grade of motor oil you can improve your gas mileage by 1-2 percent. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1-2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1-1.5 percent.
74. Look for motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives
Advanced ways to save gas
75. Eco-tuning. Many tuners offer replacement chips for your engine computer that increase the power while at the same time saving gas. How? They improve both ends of the curve. At the upper end they give you more power (with reduced efficiency) and at the lower end a better efficiency. You choose with the gas pedal which mode to use. Make sure you use manufacturer approved tuners if you don’t want to lose your warranty.
76. Hypermiling. This is a series of techiniques that can be a bit excessive, but can really save a whole lot of gas.
This article was originally published on May 27th, 2008, but we thought it was worthy of republishing.