You’ve probably noticed that gasoline prices are sky-high and don’t appear to be coming down anytime soon. So what exactly can you do about it?
Well, you could run out and buy a new hybrid, drive 20 mph below the speed limit, stagger your work hours to avoid rush hour, and take four people to work with you every day. Or just give up driving altogether by hopping on four buses and walking twelve blocks each day to work.
But, if you live in the real world, these options are probably about as helpful as a gas can with a hole in the bottom. The good news is: there are a few minor tweaks you can make to your lifestyle and driving habits that can save gas – and money. Here are 25 of them.
- Get your engine tuned up. A properly-running engine can boost your gas mileage by up to 4%.
- Keep your tires inflated. If each tire is 5 psi below its ideal level, that’s a loss of 1.5% in MPG. And air is free!
- Use the right motor oil. If you think you’re saving money by paying a quarter less per quart of the wrong grade of motor oil, think again: the reduced gas mileage will eat up almost all of those savings in a single tank of gas.
- Learn the art of “coasting.” Repeated accelerating and braking can cut gas mileage up to 10%.
- Lose the weight – in your car. An extra 50 pounds can drain a percentage point off your gas mileage. And why are you hauling around that crap, anyway?
- Minimize idling. You have to idle in traffic, but not at occupied railroad crossings, drive-through windows, or drive-up ATMs. Basically, if you know you’ll be sitting for 30 seconds or more, you’re saving gas with your car turned off.
- Draft. If you find yourself stuck behind an 18-wheeler, make lemons out of lemonade. Getting into the truck’s slipstream will let you “draft” and save gas without tailgating – plus, it’ll make you feel like a NASCAR driver!
- Nix the rack. The bike, kayak, or ski rack on your vehicle’s roof, that is. It creates unnecessary drag and increases gas usage.
- Know your warning lights. When your gas pump warning light comes on, it can still mean you have a couple of gallons left in your tank (check your owner’s manual to be sure). That’s a bare minimum of 20 miles in any car – which is plenty of time to find a gas station in a non-rural setting. You don’t need to fill up any sooner than that.
- Get a gas price app for your mobile phone. You’ll always know where the cheapest gas is.
- Watch your speed. Facts are facts: you burn 20% more gas at 70mph than you do at 55mph.
- Use the cruise. Cruise control isn’t just for long road trips. If you drive lengthy stretches on the freeway or on roads without many traffic lights, engaging the cruise control will help maximize the efficiency of your car’s engine.
- Check the air filter. Take it out and hold it up to the sun; if you cannot see light through it, get a new one. Dirty air filters impede automotive performance.
- Carpool twice a week. If you and another person drive together just two days per week (you drive one day and he/she drives the other), you’re cutting your workweek gas consumption by 20%! Plus, it breaks up the monotony of the morning commute and may even get you a new friend.
- Do all you can to avoid heavy traffic. That means getting a traffic app for your phone, checking traffic websites, or listening to the radio traffic report – and then adjusting your route accordingly to avoid burning gas while sitting in gridlock.
- Don’t get lost. Invest in a GPS and eliminate taking shortcuts wandering aimlessly around town looking for your destination and wasting gas.
- Don’t “warm up” your engine. All you need is 30 to 45 seconds. Any more than that is just throwing away money.
- Fuel up near dawn or dusk. Gasoline is denser during times when it is cooler – so you’ll get some “extra” gas for the same volume/price when you fill your tank in the morning or evening.
- Make an auto checkup list. Write down the mileages at which you’ll get your next oil change, brake fluid inspection, tune-up, brake check, etc. and tape it to the inside of your glove compartment. This will help you maintain your scheduled maintenance and keep your vehicle running at peak efficiency.
- Don’t get (or get rid of) fancy wheels. Yeah, they’ll improve performance, but if they’re wider than your regular wheels, they’ll increase road resistance and decrease gas mileage. And if you’re worried about saving money on gas, you probably shouldn’t shell out money for sick wheels anyway.
- Forget about jackrabbit starts. Surging forward from a full stop instead of accelerating gradually eats into gas mileage severely. Plus, unless you’re heading to the high school dance, spinning your tires isn’t even remotely cool.
- Keep windows closed on the highway. It’s OK to use the AC on long trips. But leaving the windows open can create drag and cut your MPGs by as much as 10%.
- Lose the tailgate. If you’re a pickup truck driver, take off the tailgate or replace it with a tailgate net to allow air to flow through. This will boost your aerodynamics and your gas mileage.
- Find the right gear. This is especially true for manual transmission vehicles. If you’re driving too fast in the wrong gear, you could be losing up to 40% of your gas mileage.
- Finally, choose off-brand gasoline (like Arco, for instance). It’s almost always several cents cheaper than the big names, and you won’t notice any difference in the quality of your driving experience.
Image credits: blog.vroomvroomvroom.co.uk, collegelifestyles.org, pimp2.com.