Save gas and save money

Do you want to reduce your pain at the pump, but don’t currently have the budget flexibility to buy a gas-sipping hybrid?  There are proven ways to improve the gas mileage of any car.  The following fuel-efficient driving techniques and maintenance tips will help you wring every last mile from each gallon:

Drive less.  If your car isn’t on, it’s not using any gas.  Carpool, combine trips, ride a bike or walk - each help you use less gas.  

Minimize junk in your trunk (and the rest of the car, too).  Keeping some things in your car, like jumper cables, makes sense.  Using your car as a rolling storage closet is ridiculous. 

Plan your routes.  You can save a surprising amount of gas by simply combining trips and planning the most time-efficient route before you go.

Limit idling.  A car gets zero mpg when it is stationary and idling.  For an example, rather than sit in a line at the drive through, just park and walk in.

Look further ahead on the road.  This is also known as situational awareness.  It makes you a better and safer driver because you are paying closer attention to the conditions ahead of and around the car.   Paying attention to conditions further ahead on the road gives you an opportunity to time traffic lights and other conditions that make you slow down or stop.  By maintaining momentum, you eliminate the need to accelerate back up to speed after a stop.  This will also reduce brake wear.

Maintain proper tire pressure.  Buy a tire pressure gauge (they’re cheap and easy to use) and keep it in your glove box or center console. Check your tire pressure for the recommended psi at least once a month, and keep them properly inflated.

Perform regular maintenance.  Something as simple and easy to fix as a dirty air filter can restrict air flow to the engine and reduce fuel-efficiency.

Avoid high-speed cruising.  I know this can be difficult if there are no radar gun-wielding police around but, for most cars, fuel-efficiency plummets with cruising speeds above 60 mph.  You should consider just how much driving time you’ll save and how much faster you’ll arrive at your destination, if you speed.

Accelerate smoothly and deliberately.  Jack rabbit starts burn a lot more gas and only get you up to cruising speed marginally quicker.

Real-time feedback. Many newer cars have an average mpg function included in the trip computer.  Some also have an instant mpg readout.  Pay attention to it.  It is the most useful tool for trying to improve your mpg, because it provides real-time feedback that allows you to learn what helps or hurts you mpg.

Saving gas and saving money is easy with a few simple adjustments to your driving habits.  It isn’t necessary to follow all the above tips to save gas.  But the more tips you incorporate into your standard driving routine, the more gas and money you can expect to save.

About the Author

Mark H. Witte is a strong proponent for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and believes individuals should have more control over how the energy for their homes is produced.