Tips for saving on your ballooning gas bill
I recently set a record that I’m not happy about. I was actually able to put 53.00 worth of gas into my mini-van. Holy smokes, that really hurts! I’m sure you are setting similar records on a weekly basis. At this rate, it’s going to cost more to fuel up your car than to pay for the car itself!
Well, unless you walk everywhere, you’re going to have to keep buying gas, but there are some things that you can do to reduce your fuel expense. Some of these you’ve probably heard before, some of them may be new!
1) Don’t jump off the starting line. Your car is a mass which has to be accelerated (by gas and your engine) and decelerated (by your breaks). Rapid acceleration uses more fuel than more gradual acceleration. If you’re a city driver and you have to start and stop frequently, try accelerating more slowly than you’re used to. You don’t want to hold up traffic of course, but you don’t need to jump like a stock car racer when the light turns green. For city drivers, this technique can increase your MPG by 10%
2) Keep your car tuned up. An engine in tune, with good spark plugs and plug wires, good ignition timing and a clean fuel filter, runs better. More of the chemical energy stored in the gasoline actually gets converted to motion and less gets wasted. Get your car tuned up annually. A car that is poorly tuned can get 25% LESS gas mileage than the same well tuned car. That kind of waste will easily pay for an annual tune up.
3) Make sure your tires are properly inflated. This is actually a very important tip. If tires are under inflated, the tires present a much larger surface area to the road. Larger surface area = more drag and resistance that the engine has to compensate for. Over inflated tires can actually increase mileage because they present the lowest rolling resistance, but can be dangerous and will wear poorly. So make sure your tires are inflated right to where they’re supposed to be inflated. Look an the sidewall for a PSI rating. You should check this monthly. Any full service gas station will do it for you as well.
4) Turn off the Air Conditioner and use your windows or vents if it’s cool enough. The AC is driven by an AC compressor which places a large drain on your engine when it is engaged. It can reduce milage by 4 or 5%. Some may argue that having your windows open to the cool the car is a bad idea, because it changes the aerodynamic shape of your car, and this is true at higher speeds. Below 40 MPH, open windows will have a negligible effect on your cars aerodynamics.
5) Slow down. As a car goes faster and faster, it takes more force from the engine to push the car through the air. At lower speeds, this extra force doesn’t really matter, but when you approach highway speeds, a 60 MPH cruise will be much more efficicent than a 70 MPH cruise. Now be careful when using this technique. You don’t want to block traffic, but you don’t want to be driving along in the left lane doing 85 MPH either. It’s a waste and it doesn’t really get you to your destination that much faster. Did you know it takes 30% more gas to drive 70 MPH then 50 MPH?
6) Consider a different vehicle. A HumVee gets 8 MPH, a Ford Aspire gets 47! (I had a Ford Aspire and loved it). If you’re a single driver going back and forth to work daily, consider a more practical vehicle. My ‘other’ car is a 500 cc Honda motorcycle which gets 55 MPG. I’m no SUV nazi, so if you need a big car, by all means have one. But if you don’t, then be a good steward of your money and consider something smaller.
7) Don’t use the expensive gas. Most people think that if high octane gas is more expensive, then it must be better. Right? No, that’s wrong. High Octane gas burns differently and can be used in cars that ‘knock’, but all modern cars are designed to use the lower octane fuels. Do yourself a favor and use the cheap stuff. If your car is knocking badly, then instead of using the expensive gas, get your car tuned up because knocking is an indication of a condition called, ‘detonation’ and this is related to an engines timing.
Plan your travel. Wow, this one is simple and can have a dramatic effect on savings. Try to get all your errands done in one trip. It can save a lot of time as well as gas and money.
9) When you see a red light ahead, don’t maintain your speed then brake quickly at the last minute. Instead, take your foot off the gas and allow your car to decelerate slowly. Your engine will be at idle during those extended decelerations and your brakes will thank you.
10) Use your cruise control when on the highway. The cruise control will assure that you use continuous gas pressures all the time and you’ll avoid the speed up slow down speed up slow down patterns of drivers that don’t use cruise control. Avoid the accelerations is what saves you gas. Set it and forget it.
11) Visit www.gasbuddy.com, enter your zip code and find the gas stations in your area that are selling the cheapest fuel, then buy from them. This is a great service and can easily save you .10 or more on each gallon of gas.
Using these 11 tips, it’s reasonable to expect that you can save 10%, 20% or more on your gas expenses. Until the US starts drilling for oil here in the states, we’re all going to have to learn ways to save on gas.