Want to save money on gas?
Our list of little tricks will enable you to save dollars per year, burn less gas, pollute less, and maybe even reduce stess.
These strategies might be considered common sense, and may be ones you already know, but reminders never hurt, and it would appear others do not practice these efficiencies.
In any event, they can be applied to whatever you drive, even if it’s a four-wheel-drive pickup truck you solo commute with to your job at the office.
While electrification advocates would now recommend ditching the guzzler, or any conventional less-efficient car, this message is not primarily focused on that.
But, now that we’ve mentioned it, of course a hybrid or plug-in hybrid or all-electric car is a good way to save even more fuel, but then you’d have to buy the car.
Seven Ways To Save Gas Today
Assuming you’re not there yet, here are seven tips to save gas today. According to the U.S. EPA, each stands to save fuel and money. Figures following assume fuel price of $2.81/gallon.
Gas Saved: 5-3 percent/ $0.14-0.93/gallon
Traffic volume is increasing, busy schedules and life reposonsibilities are more pressuring, newer cars are faster and even sedans outperform sports cars of yesteryear.
All this is a recipe for what law enforcement can give you an earful about – aggressive driving – which involves speeding, rapid acceleration, and last-second braking. It’s go-go-go!
The alternative is to drive sensibly. One fuel economy expert said to pretend like you are taking your mother for a drive. You get it.
While maybe less thrilling, and requiring more personal discipline, this also is safer for you and everyone around you.
Obey The Speed Limit
Above 50 mph this aerodynamic drag goes up markedly. As a matter of simple physics, wind resistance increases exponentially with speed.
The EPA estimates every 5 mph above 50 mph costs an average vehicle $0.20 per gallon of gas.
Avoid Roof Rack Use
The roof is a great place to stash that 10-person tent, rooftop box, skis, surfboard, bikes, and the haul from your latest shopping spree at the lumber yard.
It also throws the aerodynamic profile of your vehicle right out the window. Why not hang a sail up there too, while you’re at it?
Seriously, sometimes it makes sense to stow big things up and out of the way, but it will cost to do so.
The EPA figures a large squared-off roof box can cut fuel economy by 2-8 percent at lower-speed city driving, and as speeds increase on the highway it can be 6-17 percent up to 10-25 percent at between 65-75 mph. Ouch!
If you need to, consider one of the rear-mounted types that possibly sit on a tow hitch or are otherwise mounted. These in the slipstream may reduce fuel economy by an estimated 102 percent in city, and 1-5 percent on the higway.
Don’t Carry Excess Weight
Gas savings: 1 percent/100 pounds; $0.03/gallon
Your trunk and your back seat are not a storage unit. Those big bags of kitty litter would do better coming inside the house.
Of course if you need to carry stuff, that’s your prerogative, but adding ballast to your ride does cost.
This truism is more true for smaller vehicles with smaller engines that must work harder on a percentage basis.
Avoid Idling Excessively
The police, ambulances and other service personnel may leave the engine running, but if you can, consider shutting it off when temporarily parked or the like. In some areas, there are ordinances requiring you to do so.
Every hour idling can burn a quart to a half-gallon of fuel in an average automobile, depending if the A/C is on. If you’re curious, the EPA estimates it takes around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart an engine.
It feels so strongly about it, the EPA offers these best practices:
• Limit engine starts to about 10 times per day on average—unless your vehicle is equipped with a start-stop system. Occasionally exceeding this limit should not cause excessive starter wear.
• Assuming 10 starts a day aren’t exceeded, any shutdown longer than 1 minute will save money.
• Limit electric accessory use during shutdown, particularly during longer shutdown periods.
• Drive at least 5 miles between start cycles to fully recharge the battery.
Use Your Cruise Control
This requires no explanation for most, but just in case, the cruise control maintains the vehicle’s speed more smoothly than you might unless you have very good fine motor control.
The EPA does not estimate how much fuel you stand to save, but it does say you will save some.
Obviously long highway trips are ideal, but even other situations where safe can be fine to activate cruise control.
Make Sure Tires Are Properly Inflated
Some of the more attentive among you – you know who you are – might notice how many people roll their cars around on squashed, under-inflated tires.
Here’s a fact: Owning a tire pressure gauge and periodically checking them is good owner maintenance anyone can do. If you don’t have a tire pressure monitoring system, be advised pressures do decline over time and rolling resistance will increase.
Seasonal temperature variances also see pressures fluctuate as colder air is denser and less expanded than hot summer air.
Tires operate best within recommended pressure range and the engine must compensate when rolling resistance goes up.