How to Feel Less Pain at the Pump: 10 Ways to Save Gas (and Money)
Posted by Becky Lake on March 20, 2012 at 9:43 AM
As the weather warms up, we face the annual fuel cost spikes…and from the looks of things, it's not slowing down anytime soon. We’re all looking to squeeze every last drop from our tanks since filling up now squeezes every last penny from our wallets. To help get the most miles for your dollar, we've collected 10 tips to help you save gas and money.
1. Brake Correctly
Cars use the most gas when they accelerate. Duh. While this may seem obvious, in somewhat heavy traffic this can mean burning through a lot of gas. It's fairly easy to maintain a speed in a long line of cars without using your brakes -- instead, pay attention to the cars in front you and anticipate when to slightly ease of the gas or coast. This will keep you from losing momentum when you hit the brakes. In heavy traffic (like your rush hour commute), this will result in 10-20% better gas mileage.
2. Use Cruise Control
If your car has cruise control and there isn't much traffic, you'll save gas if you turn it on. It keeps your speed constant, which means you won't have to keep accelerating and use more gas.
3. Shift to Neutral When Still
When idling at a stoplight or in a parking light, shift into neutral. This reduces transmission strain and gives the transmission some time to cool down. Just make sure you’re really pressing the brakes!
4. Drop Extra Weight
It’s simple: the heavier the car, the more gas it takes to move it. All that junk you keep in the car isn’t doing you any favors at the pump. So remove heavy items that've been collecting dust in your trunk and clean out your back seat -- it's a 5 minute task that will instantly save you money. Bonus tip: Don't fill up until you're on empty since gas is heavy too.
5. Pick the Best Route
If your commute involves lots of stoplights or heavy traffic, it might not be the most fuel-efficient route. Stopping a lot only increases the amount of gas you use. Look for low-traffic highways or back roads. They might even save you time too!
6. Turn Off the AC
As you probably know, running the air conditioner impacts your car's overall fuel efficiency. So if you can bear it, try not to turn it on. If you must, turn it off 5-10 minutes before reaching your destination. The car will stay cool enough for that short amount of time. There is a catch: Driving with the windows open at speeds over 45mph causes too much drag, and it’s actually better at that point to use the AC. Bonus tip: always park in the shade -- your car won't have to work as hard to get cool.
7. Remove Your Ski Rack
Unless you're using the ski, bicycle, or luggage rack on the roof every week, remove it. It increases the wind resistance on your car which results in more gas used.
The amount of gas used per person is halved each time you carpool to work with a co-worker. Not only are you saving gas and money, you get the added bonus of cruising in the carpool lane! Bonus tip: Look into public transportation and opt out of using gas altogether. The cost to ride the bus or train will probably be way less than the cost of gas and parking each month and you’ll save yourself the stress of fighting through traffic.
9. Check Your Air Filter
At any given time, almost 25% of cars need to replace their air filter. Doing so can improve gas mileage by 10%!In general, keeping your car well-maintained will go a long way in keeping it efficient.
10. Drive Slower
It's true: you use less gas when you drive slower. In fact, for every five miles per hour you reduce highway speed, you reduce fuel consumption by 7%.