Wednesday, August 13, 2008
27 Tips – How to Save Money on Gas
Gas prices continue to climb at an astronomical rate, and many people are feeling a pinch in their wallets. Here are a few gas saving tips to help you keep your wallet in check and reduce your gas consumption, while protecting the environment:
- Maintain your car properly. According to the US Department of Energy, regular engine tune-ups help improve performance and gas mileage by as much as 4%. Changing oil every 3,000 or 5,000 miles (check your owner’s manual for recommended oil change schedule), replacing worn spark plugs, changing brake pads, replacing worn tires, and filling the transmission fluid according to the car’s recommended level is necessary to saving gas. Replacing your air filter regularly, especially a clogged air filter, can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. A clean air filter makes the engine runs more smoothly and efficiently.
- Drive fuel-efficient vehicles. Do your research carefully before buying your next car, whether it is a new or used car. Check the vehicle’s city and highway mile per gallon (MPG) consumption gauge at web sites like Edmunds.com or Kelly Blue Book. Visit Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Fuel Economy web sites for gas emission ratings and fuel economy estimates for pickup trucks and passenger cars. Understand how much gas is consumed on your vehicle can help save big dollars in the long run. Consider buying a four-cylinder car. Most four-cylinder cars provide more gas mileage in the city and on freeways than six or eight-cylinder cars. Higher horse-power, larger engine and heavier vehicles (i.e. SUVs and sport cars) burn more gas than other smaller, less powerful vehicles. Vehicles equipped with manual transmissions are more gas efficient than the ones that come with automatic transmissions. Consider getting a hybrid car for fuel economy. Hybrid cars such as Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius are real gas sippers as they all can get about 40-60 MPG. Also, consider buying a car with the diesel-powered engine, which provides better gas mileage than even hybrid cars on a longer distance trip – this is why diesel cars are more popular than hybrid cars in Europe. And better yet, buy a scooter to get even more gas savings. Scooters typically get between 60 to 100 MPG of gas, helping you save more gas and keeping the pollution down.
- Avoid overfilling gas. Avoid spills and don’t top off. When you fill gas to the top, the gas nozzle automatically clicks. Do not continue filling gas at the first “click”. It hurts your wallet and it’s bad for the environment.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Check your tires periodically to ensure the tires have the maximum recommended pressure and the wheels are properly aligned. This keeps the car balanced, improves handling and increases your gas mileage by as much as 3 percent.
- Avoid idling and prolonged warming up of engine. Keeping the engine running needlessly, especially with the air condition on, only wastes gas. Anytime you anticipate a lengthy wait (at a drive-up window or waiting for a friend in your car), turn off the engine. Avoid warming up your engine for a prolonged period of time, even on cold mornings. Warming up 30 to 60 seconds is sufficient.
- Don’t accelerate. When the light turns green or when it’s your turn to go at the stop sign, go easy on the gas pedal and accelerate slowly and smoothly. Rapid acceleration causes your engine to use up more gas. Remember that acceleration is your worst enemy for fuel economy.
- Coast to a stop sign or red light. Slowly and smoothly hit the brakes before you hit the stop sign or traffic light. Abrupt braking causes your car to needlessly use more gas and wear your brake. And don’t tailgate because the car in front of you may brake abruptly, causing you to react by hitting the brake hard. It’s wise to keep a good distance between you and the car in front of you. You can avoid getting into an accident.
- Slow down on freeways. Maintain your speed between 55-60 mph on freeways. You pay an additional $0.20 per gallon of gas for every 5 mph you drive above 60 mph. For example, if your car gets 25 mpg on the freeway at 65 mph speed, driving at 55 mph will increase your mileage to 29 mpg, saving you 16% of gas money. Stay below the speed limit. After all, traffic tickets are expensive.
- Apply cruise control. Whenever possible, use the cruise control, particularly on freeways, as it helps keep the speed constant and therefore, you’ll less likely to accelerate or use the brakes.
- Keep the weight down. Driving with more stuff in your car or with more passengers means you are dragging the car and as a result, burning more gas. Removing unneeded items in your vehicle, particularly items in your trunk or on top of the vehicle (i.e. ski, bicycle, or luggage rack), helps improve fuel economy. If you’re planning to drive on a long trip, remove the junks, extra seats, or any items that you don’t need, to get more mileage. Storing 100 lbs in the trunk causes your car to use up to 2 percent more gas. Weight degrades performance and is worse for your fuel economy. Keep your car as aerodynamic (meaning less drag) as possible.
- Use air conditioning wisely. If you drive in the city (or less than 50 mph), it is more fuel efficient to roll down the windows or open the air ventilation system in your car instead of using the AC. Gas powers the air condition (AC) system in your car. Use AC only when it is necessary. However, keep in mind that driving with the windows down on highways is not fuel-efficient. When driving at freeway speeds, roll up the windows and close the sunroof to reduce turbulences and avoid getting wind drag, which forces your car to use more power (hence fuel) to combat the strong wind.
- Tighten up the gas cap. According to the Car Care Council, damaged, loose or missing gas caps cause 147 million gallons of fuel to evaporate every year in the U.S. Make sure to tighten up and close your gas cap every time you fill gas to avoid wasting gas needlessly.
- Buy gas when it’s cool. Usually the best time of day to buy gas is in the early morning or late evening when the gas is densest, hence more gas. The gas expands during the hot time of day. Therefore, if you buy when it’s hot, you’d get less gas.
- Avoid excessive use of brakes. When you apply the brakes, your vehicle loses momentum and it has to be gained back by accelerating, hence more gas is consumed. Driving steadily and anticipating your stops and starts helps minimize braking. When driving down a hill, your car should have enough momentum to propel it forward. Therefore, you do not need to hit the gas pedal, resulting in less use of brakes. If your car is equipped with a manual shift, put it in neutral gear and let your car rolls. However, take cautions when driving down a steep slope as it may become harder to control.
- Use overdrive gears. If your car comes with overdrive gears, use them as soon as your speed is high enough. This helps lower the RPM (revolution per minute measured in quantity of output of the engine), helping you save gas and reduce wear and tear on your engine. Traveling at freeway speed in low gears can consume up to 45% more fuel. Make sure to use correct gears.
- Avoid heavy traffic areas. In high traffic areas, you’re more likely to go bumper-to-bumper, causing you to hit the brakes more often and your car to stay idle, leading to more gas consumption. It helps to plan your travel times and routes accordingly. Avoid the red lights, don’t drive during rush hours and hit the road during the time of day when it’s free and clear. Find and use efficient routes to cut back on driving.
- Park in a shade. Parking your vehicle in a shade prevents gas from evaporating and keeps AC from working as hard when you start using it. If you have a garage, use it.
- Use the right oil grade. Using the recommended grade of motor oil improves your gas mileage. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed for 5W-30 lowers the gas mileage by as much as 2 percent. Check your car owner’s manual for recommended oil grade type.
- Don’t start and stop engine needlessly. Starting the engine consumes just as much gas as putting the engine on idle for one minute. And it can harm your engine.
- Rent a smaller car. Plan a get-away trip? Rent a small budget car to save money and gas. Even better, rent a green car (i.e. Toyota Prius, Civic Hybrid, etc.) to save more gas. Why take your SUVs on a long trip when you can rent a smaller, more gas-efficient car, which usually consumes less gas due its smaller mass and hybrid technology. Small cars offer less wind resistance than big cars. Less wind resistance means less gas consumption.
- Wash your car. Make sure to wash your car and keep it clean. A clean car with a smooth waxed surface faces less wind resistance thereby reducing the gas consumption on your vehicle. Use detergent instead of soap to avoid damaging the paint on your car.
- Use public transportation or carpool. Use public transit like bus, light rails, shuttle or NY subway / SF bart. Check with your local city for available public transportations.Carpool with your friends or co-workers to work — you can get to work faster and save gas money. Why drive if you don’t have to.
- Family fuel savings. If your family owns two cars and one is used for regular commuting, make sure the commuting car is a fuel-efficient car.
- Avoid buying expensive gas. Most people assume that buying gas from a national-brand gas station is better for their cars as it improves performance and provides enhanced reliability. The truth is that you can buy gas from your local Jerry’s gas station, and it is just as reliable. Your local Jerry’s gasoline must meet EPA’s standards for it to sell to you.
The EPA requires that all gasoline meet a minimum level of detergent additives, which prevent the build-up of potential deposits on the engine’s valves and help to maintain engine cleanliness. Additionally, EPA periodically inspects retail gas stations and tests the gasoline to ensure it has proper and EPA-required octane ratings. Therefore, buying gas at the local mom-and-pop gas station shouldn’t harm your car.
While buying Jerry’s gasoline does not harm your car, it may not be the same as buying gasoline from the national brand retailers, which claim to have added their own formula of detergent additives that exceeds the EPA benchmark. Major auto manufacturers like Audi, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen all follow the standard known as Top Tier Detergent Gasoline. These manufacturers work with major gasoline refiners to ensure the oil meets their standards, advising consumers to buy higher-standard gasoline than what EPA requires to ensure optimal engine performance. Gasoline retailers, which offer Top Tier Detergent gas, include QuikTrip, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, 76, Shell, Entec Stations, MFA Oil Company, Kwik Trip/Kwik Star, The Somerset Refinery Inc., Chevron-Canada, Aloha Petroleum, Tri-Par Oil Co., Shell-Canada, Texaco, Petro-Canada and Sunoco-Canada.
If your car is not equipped with a high-performance or high-tech engine, buy cheap “no brand name” gas to save money. And if your car does not require premium gas, buy the lowest grade or octane gasoline to save money. The premium fuel will not improve performance or fuel economy. Check your owner’s manual to see what type of gas is recommended for your vehicle.
- Use online comparison search engine to find the lowest gas prices. Use sites like GasBuddy.com, FuelEconomy.gov and MSN Find Local Gas Prices to compare and search for the lowest gas prices near you. Knowing which local gas stations sell cheaper gasoline can help save a few bucks every time you fill up your gas tank.
- Know where you’re going. Before starting the engine, make sure you know your destination and the directions to get there. Mindful driving prevents you from getting lost on the road, while saving time and money. Invest in a GPS system if you don’t already have one. GPS will help you find the shortest and quickest route to your destination. Bring a map and a compass with you on a longer trip.
- Don’t drive unless you really have to. Think about this for a minute. How often do you run your errands? How many wasted trips do you take in a week to drive to a grocery store or a department store just to buy one or two items. Instead of taking multiple trips to run errands, try combining them to save time and money. Wouldn’t it be more productive and gas efficient to take one trip to the grocery store and buy all the things that you need for the week (or perhaps two weeks)? It helps to create a grocery checklist of all items that you need to buy — and stick to it. Even better, bike or walk to the grocery store instead of driving. You’ll enjoy great outdoors and exercise. The convenience of the Internet makes it easy for you to do most of your shopping online (hint: use gotodaily.com for coupons, discounts and savings). Now you can buy stamps online, do grocery shopping online, rent movies online, and bank online. Why drive to the grocery store or a mall when you can do most of your shopping on the web, saving you time and money.
We hope that you start applying these gas-saving principles and tips today to reduce your gas consumption and optimize your vehicle mileage, while saving money and the environment.
Do you know?
- Rotating your tires regularly helps minimize tire wear and good for your fuel economy.
- Resting your foot on the clutch or brake causes needless wear and bad for your fuel economy.
- Driving on rough roads, dirt and gravel may consume up to 30% more gas. Avoid them when possible.
- Snow tires burn more gas. Remove the snow tires or brackets if you don’t use them.
- AC uses about eight horsepower, increasing your gas consumption by roughly 20%. Avoid using your AC as much as you can when driving in the city.