With AAA recently reporting increases in the national average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline for more than 25 days straight, you may be thinking that pennies will soon add up to dollars. So here’s are some expert tips to save gas, keep that extra cash in your pocket, and help the environment at the same time.
Get back to basics. Save gas before you even start driving, simply by buying, leasing or renting the most gas efficient vehicle that meets your needs. These days, between hybrids, smaller “SUV’s”, and cars that are built to get some of the best mileage out there, there are plenty of options.If you’re not sure what to look for, sites such as fueleconomy.gov, Consumer Reports, and Kelly Blue Book all offer advice, statistics, reviews and background to help you make an informed choice before you test drive or buy.
Regardless of what you buy, if you pack your car with heavy baggage, roof racks or holding containers, it will be heavy and less aerodynamic. Sure it may be tempting to pack extras in that “grandma trunk” on the roof, but that means means wasting money on gas out on the road. Keep it light.
As some mothers are apt to say, ‘Why are you rushing? What are you going to save, five minutes by the time you get to your destination? What’s five minutes in the big scheme of things?” Well, Mom is right. A general rule of thumb according to many car experts is that gas mileage typically decreases after you hit speeds of 50 miles per hour or more.So, the faster you go over 50mph, the less effective your overall mph.So lighten up, leadfoot .Not only will you save gas, you may save a life at some point.
Know when and how to coast. No, I don’t mean know when to take the coast roads. (Although that’s a good thing to know as well.) I mean, avoid full stops, when possible. To be clear, I’m NOT telling you to cruise through stop signs or red lights. But I am saying, logically, it takes a little extra gas to get things started once again after you’ve stopped, so if and when you can, work to gauge yourself, timing your driving to allow for as many green lights as possible. And yes, that may mean slowing down as you coast.
Tony at Cobble Hill Super Service, in Brooklyn, New York reminds drivers to use the accelerator to control the car—not the breaks—especially in stop and go traffic. “Cars are meant to flow,” he says, adding the importance of keeping your distance from the car in front of you. “If you’re worried about the guy in back of you honking, DON’T,” he says.
You don’t exercise without warming up, so why would you expect your car to do so? Experts say the first few minutes after you’ve turned your car on are the minutes in which you’ll get the worst gas mileage if the car isn’t properly warmed up before you start moving.
Keep your car in best shape possible. Yes, there’s a reason for taking it in every three to five-thousand miles (depending on what type of car you have) for a tune-up. Top condition=top gas mileage. Tony says your car should go in for service four times a year. (Schedule one of those visits at the same time as you need to get your inspection done.) “If you service your car properly, not only will you save gas, but typically you shouldn’t have to service it for anything else,” he adds.
Filters and fluids should be maintained all year, as the older your filters and fluids, the more restrictions your car will have-and those eventually all play into gas mileage. Check your manual, as Tony says it should be, “idiot proof.”
He also reminds drivers to check your suspension. “If the car is dragging, you have to use more fuel to accelerate.” The recommendation?Check your suspension at some point between 50 and 60-thousand miles.
Keeping tires inflated to the recommended pressure for your car can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA also says by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil, you could improve your gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent.
Many in the industry say it is worth it to use the “super” grade of gasoline, saying it burns slower and in the long-term you’ll save money, plus it’s better for both the car and the environment. Tony puts forth the challenge to, “…use regular VS super over the course of a full year—you’ll see the savings.” He also says to buy top tier brands of gasoline so you know what you’re getting.
With a little bit of planning, there are plenty of other ways to save extra gas money. If possible, drive during “off peak” hours both during the day and at night. Various car and driver studies show the average driver wasting between 40 and 60 hours a year just stuck in traffic.For instance, Inrix, a provider of traffic information, driver services and apps, found that in Los Angeles in 2011, drivers sat in traffic for 57 hours a year on average. In New York that year, drivers averaged 56 hours a year of wasted traffic time. And there are seemingly more cars on the road now.
What’s the shortest path from point A to point B? Take a moment and check your route so you don’t get lost. Double check your GPS suggested route to make sure there’s no big traffic hindrance such as construction or flooding, for instance.
Buy cheap gas—using apps such as “Gas Buddy,” may help you find the cheapest and closest gas prices in your area.
There’s no shame in taking public transportation! Trains, buses and subways all offer alternatives that are generally cheaper than if you were to drive yourself. (Guaranteed personal gas savings if you’re not driving!) You may also be surprised at how much work you can get done on public transport. Take advantage if you live in a place that provides good public transport alternatives.
Still driving? Don’t forget the carpool or rideshare option. Not only is it good for your wallet, it’s potentially good for your social life. And in many cities with HOV lanes, you may have the chance to move through traffic at a quicker pace than if it’s just you behind the wheel.
Heeding one or all of these tips is a guaranteed way to save gas NOW.