When you use less gas, you not only save money. You use less fossil fuel.
Not only do you save what goes out your tail pipe. You save whatever fuel it would cost to refine and transport the gas you don’t use.
Some people still think green living is too expensive and inconvenient. These gas saving tips will save you money with no loss of convenience.
They come in two basic categories: how you maintain your car and how you drive.
Use less gas and save wear and tear on your car with routine maintenance
1. Change your oil on schedule
Your car’s engine requires a thick coating of oil to protect moving parts. It also generates a lot of heat. Heat causes the oil to break down. It doesn’t flow as smoothly. It may not be able to get everywhere it needs to go.
As the oil breaks down, it begins to accumulate contaminants and deposit them as sludge on engine parts. Dirty oil makes the engine less efficient. That is, it makes the engine use more gas.
Synthetic oil costs a lot more than conventional oil, but it boosts gas mileage and protects your engine better than conventional oil.
The superior flow of synthetic oil especially helps in areas with extreme cold. Its superior lubrication, reduction of friction, especially helps in areas with extreme heat.
2. Keep your tires in good shape
Used tires have their own environmental problems. The less frequently you have to replace them, the less you add tires to the waste stream.
And tires in poor condition hurt gas mileage.
Poor wheel alignment wears your tires out faster. So see a mechanic at the first sign it needs to be adjusted.
Also, keep your tires properly inflated to use less gas.
3. Don’t take little parts for granted
Like oil, the air, oil, and gas filter impair engine efficiency and fuel economy when they get dirty. The mechanic who changes your oil will remind you to replace these parts.
If you change your own oil, don’t forget them.
Also, keep an eye on your gas cap to save fuel. If it does not seal the gas tank properly, it leaks gas vapor into the air, It both wastes gas (and money) and contributes to air pollution.
4. Lose weight
I mean lose excess weight in your car to boost fuel economy. Don’t use your car as a convenient place to hide junk you don’t know what else to do with. Take your golf clubs (etc.) out of the trunk except when you’re planning to use them.
Car manufacturers have done everything they can over the last few decades to make cars lighter to save fuel. Because heavy cars use up more gas. So don’t undo their work by making your car heavier.
5. Fill your car with the right gas at the right time.
It might seem that slow-burning gas would be good for mileage, it’s not if your car was designed to run on fast-burning gas.
Putting the wrong fuel in the tank makes the engine work less efficiently.
Also, wait until you’re down to a quarter of a tank before you fill up. Topping off the tank means that you’re always hauling the weight of a full tank.
And fill the tank to boost fuel economy. Don’t just put in a little bit.
Either topping off the tank frequently or not filling it means you’ll be driving to the gas station more. That means driving more, starting the car more, braking more, and so on. So you’re not saving anything. You’re wasting fuel.
Use less gas by driving smarter
6. Don’t drive at all if you don’t have to
If you can walk, bike, carpool, or take public transportation, you don’t use gas at all.
7. Plan your errands
Do you have to pick up the kids from school, get groceries, and buy clothes? Don’t make three trips. As much as possible, combine your errands into one trip.
Also, plan the shortest distances between stops to save fuel. Suppose you have two destinations close to each other and one farther away. What sense does it make to go to that one between the other two? That’s what you’re likely to do if you forget you needed something after you’ve headed toward your second errand.
Your car runs most efficiently when it’s properly warmed up. It warms up the quickest when you’re driving it. So when you have multiple errands, start with the one farthest from home.
Assuming your car doesn’t sit in any parking lot for more than half an hour, it will be fully warmed up when you get back to it. And it takes longer than half an hour for the engine to become cold again.
UPS and other delivery companies have demonstrated you use less gas making right turns, even if it means driving a little farther, than waiting for traffic conditions to allow a left turn.
8 Drive smoothly
Jack rabbit starts are hard on gas mileage.
Ironically, so is letting your foot off the brake at a light and letting the car reach coasting speed before applying the accelerator. Cars operate most efficiently in the highest gear. Coasting makes it take longer to shift that high.
But do look far enough ahead that you can take your foot off the gas and coast to a stop. If you’re in slow traffic, try to keep rolling as constantly as possible to boost fuel economy. Even if that means someone else will jump in front of you.
It takes less gas to keep a car moving than to get it started from a complete stop.
On longer trips, using cruise control will help you maintain a steady speed.
9. Minimize idling
When your engine’s running and you’re not moving, you get zero miles per gallon.
Unless you’re at a stoplight, shut the engine off if you’re likely not to move in the next 30 seconds. The days when it took more gas to start a car than to let it idle are long gone.
So turn off the car to use less gas in traffic jams, railroad crossings, or waiting for someone to come to the car.
And stay out of drive thru lanes!
You can probably get just as fast service if you park and go inside. You’ll be standing instead of sitting, which is good for your health. And you won’t be breathing everyone else’s exhaust.
Here’s an example of how a little change can add up:
Put on your seatbelt before you start the car.
It takes just a few seconds to fasten a seat belt. So if you start the car first, you’re idling for those few seconds. Watch how it adds up.
Whenever you leave home, you’ll probably go somewhere, get out of the car, and then return home. In other words, every day you use your car you’ll be starting it at least twice. If those few seconds of idling use 30¢ worth of gas a day, in a year you’ve spent more than $100.
Imagine the savings if most of the millions of drivers changed that one little habit to use even a little less gas.
10. Know when to run the air conditioner and when to open the windows
It takes extra gas to run the air conditioner. But when you open the windows, you increase wind resistance.
So what’s the tradeoff?
At about 55 miles an hour, it doesn’t make much difference which you do. Faster than that, you’ll use less gas running the air conditioner than opening the window. Slower than that, it’s cheaper to open the window.
So open with window for driving around town to boost fuel economuy. Reserve the air conditioner for when you’ll be traveling at highway speeds.
11. Watch your speed
Cars operate at their highest efficiency at a particular speed. I’ve seen figures between 35 mph and 60 mph.
Fuel efficiency declines rapidly for every 5 mph above 60.
Unless you’re on a long trip, the time you’ll save by going faster is measured in seconds. So follow the posted speed or drive a little slower.
(Not too much slower. You’ll just annoy other drivers. Some highways have a posted minimum speed.)
12. Avoid hauling cargo on the car’s roof
A roof rack increases wind resistance. Big time.
Wind resistance reduces gas mileage. How much? According to the EPA, 2-8% in city driving, 6-17% on the highway, and up to 25% at speeds above 65 mph.
If you sometimes need to use a roof rack, save fuel by taking it off when you’re not using it.