Gas prices continue to rise putting more of a squeeze of your budget. If you want to learn how to save gas and money keep reading. We live in a go-go society judging from the way I see most people drive. To save both gas and money requires a change in thinking about how we drive.
Below is a collection of tips to help you save gas and money. I follow many of these and was very pleased with my 28 mpg of city driving on my last fill-up. When it comes to saving gas it is important to remember a lot of little things can add up to real savings.
Keep a log book in your car to record your gas mileage. Challenge yourself to beat your highest miles per gallon. Write down the odometer reading and number of gallons purchased each time you fill up. Divide the number of miles traveled between fill-ups by the number of gallons purchased. That is your miles per gallon. A log will help you notice a drop off in gas mileage which is an indication your car needs maintenance.
Driving Tips to Save Gas
- Don’t do jack-rabbit starts. Instead accelerate slowly allowing your car to gradually increase speed. Work at it and you will find the “sweet spot” for your gas pedal where you are not accelerating too fast or too slow. The goal is not to reach the speed limit or beyond as fast as possible.
- Don’t idle for more than one minute. If you pull into a store while you friend runs in to get something turn the engine off. Letting your car run for more than one minute uses as much gas as it would require to start it.
- Drive-through is a convenience that waste gas. Rather than sit in a 5 minute drive-through line, park and go inside.
- Use your air conditioning wisely. At highway speeds roll up your windows to reduce drag and use your air conditioner. In stop and go traffic if it is cool enough, turn off the air conditioner and roll down your windows. Using your air conditioner in stop and go traffic can reduce your fuel efficiency by as much as 20%. Another trick you can use is to turn off your air conditioning before you reach your destination. Time it right and your will remain comfortable and increase fuel efficiency.
- When you see you are approaching a red light let up or off of the gas pedal. You can develop this to an art form of coasting to a stop while using as little brake as possible. You will save gas, possibly time the light better so you do not come to a complete stop (thus saving more gas) and reduce wear on your brakes. Racing from light to light and slamming on the brakes just in time to stop is dangerous and waste gas.
- Reduce your speed on the highway. Speed limits on highways and interstates used to be 55 mph for a reason, to save fuel. Now speed limits have risen to 65 mph and higher. While the American driver mentality seems to be to get there as quickly as you can, decreasing your speed to 55 mph will on average save you 2 mpg. For every 5 mph you reduce your speed you consume 7% less fuel. So if you can’t drive 55 dropping from 70 mph to 65 mph will yield a 7% fuel savings without costing you much time.
- If you are driving on the highway use your cruise control. A smooth and steady speed will increase your fuel efficiency. Watch for hills though and don’t let your cruise control accelerate you too much to maintain speed going up the hill.
- When you are approaching a hill accelerate a little before you get to it and keep the gas pedal in the same position up the hill. Accelerating up a hill will burn extra gas and the extra seconds it gains you in your trip is not worth it.
- In most major cities stop lights are timed to maintain the flow of traffic at the speed limit. As long as you maintain the speed limit you are more likely to hit more green lights than if you speed. Speeding waste gas and so does sitting at traffic lights.
- Get in a lane and stick to it. How many times do you see cars swerving in and out around traffic only to see them one or two cars ahead at the next light? All of this gas pedal, brake and turning action uses up gas, is dangerous and does not get you there more than a few minutes faster at best.
Price, Time and How Much
- Find the lowest gas prices. This is a no brainer since you will save money and get more gas for your dollar. You can check for the lowest gas prices in the University City are right here by click on the Gas Prices link on the navigation bar. The map expands so you can check other areas of Charlotte or click on the link to check gas prices anywhere. Gas prices keep changing so check back to find the lowest when you need gas.
- Time your gas purchases. Did you know that some gas stations raise prices for the weekend? They also raise them before rush hour. Surveys indicate the cheapest time to buy gas is Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. We all know gas prices tend to rise right before and during a holiday period. Be aware of this and fill-up before prices rise.
- If gas prices are stable don’t fill your tank up. Every gallon of gas you pump into your tank adds weight which means you car will burn more fuel to carry around that extra fuel. Wait until your tank is just below a quarter of a tank or even one-eighth. Then fill it to half or three-quarters of a tank depending on your driving needs. Don’t let your tank get too low! Deposits in the bottom of your fuel tank will be sucked into your fuel system, reducing efficiency and over time can cost you repairs.
- Buy your gas during the coolest time of the day. Gas pumps measure by volume and when it is cool gas is more dense, thus you get more fuel for your money.
- Don’t fill your tank to the top. When the pump clicks, stop. Any gas you put in beyond that will either evaporate, slosh out or pour down the side of your car (not good for your car finish!).
Maintain Your Car
- Check your tire pressures every week or two. Inflate your tires to the recommended maximum air pressure. Under inflated tires can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 15%, cause tires to wear out faster. Don’t depend on the air pressure gauge at your service station. Buy a decent digital air pressure gauge.
- Check your wheel alignment. A car that is out of alignment makes your engine work harder and wears out your tires quicker.
- Get regular tune-ups. A misfiring spark plug will lower your engines performance and reduce your gas mileage.
- Replace your air filter every 3,000 miles or as recommended by your car owners manual. A dirty air filter will reduce the effectiveness of your fuel system and waste 10% of your gas.
- Wash and wax your car. What? Yes it has been shown that a clean and waxed car gets better gas mileage by reducing drag. You car looks good and you save money.
- Make sure your gas cap is tight each time you fill your car. If your gas cap is loose or damaged you should replace it. Gas will evaporate right out of your tank.
- Use the right grade of motor oil and get regular oil changes. It keeps your engine healthy longer and helps keep your engine cooler, which in turns helps you save gas. Synthetic oil may cost a little more, but it is better for your engine and improves gas mileage.
Other Gas Saving Tips
- Got junk in your trunk? Remove everything from your car that you do not need. All of that extra weight reduces your gas mileage.
- Wherever you go the shortest route may not be the most fuel-efficient if it includes traffic and stop lights. Look for alternative routes that have less traffic and require less stopping.
- Reduce your drag by removing ski racks or bike racks when you do not need them.
- Combine all of your errands into one trip. Plan out where you have to go so you save yourself time and gas.
- In the winter avoid warming your car up for more that 30 to 45 seconds.
Relax and Take it Easy to Save Gas, Money and Your Wits
The biggest factor in saving gas and money is your mentality about how you drive. With some people as soon as their butt hits the seat their goal is to get to where they are going as quickly as possible.
For these people I offer this challenge. On your next trip where you know how long it takes you to get there, slow down, relax and follow these tips. Time yourself and see how much more time it takes you to reach your destination. In most trips around the city it will be 5 minutes or less.
So ask yourself if 5 minutes of your time is worth wasting gas and wasting money? Is 5 minutes worth the cost of a speeding ticket or an accident? Just relax and take it easy. You will save gas, save money and arrive at your destination far more relaxed.
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