The most straightforward way to save gas is to drive less and use alternate means of transportation. You can also reduce your gas consumption by purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle. If you already own a fuel-efficient vehicle, or if buying a new car isn't feasible for you right now, gas-saving methods are still available that have positive side effects ranging from saving money to improving your health and well-being.
Use public transportation whenever possible. Taking the train or bus not only saves money on gas and reduces your carbon footprint but also reduces wear and tear on the vehicle you have. Consider these options for longer trips as well.
Bike or walk shorter distances. You'll save money, improve your fitness and enjoy a break from stressful traffic.
Arrange carpools with coworkers and alternate driving on different days. A carpool cuts down on how often you have to drive, and many cities have carpool lanes that are often less congested --- so you'll save gas even when driving by braking less as well.
Maintain Your Vehicle Properly
Tune up your vehicle's engine regularly. For cars that have gone too long without a tune-up, a proper engine tune improves mileage by 4 percent on average --- and for cars with serious issues, mileage can improve as much as 40 percent (see References 1).
Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Inflate your tires according to the specifications printed on the sticker inside the driver's side door or in the owner's manual. Don't use the maximum pressure listed on the side of the tire itself. Poorly inflated tires can reduce mileage by 0.3 percent for every pound-per-square-inch decrease in tire pressure. Tires kept at the correct pressure also last longer and are safer. (See References 1.)
Use the correct type of motor oil. Check your owner's manual to see the type of oil you should use in your vehicle. Buy motor oil with an "energy conserving" label; these products contains additives to reduce friction and improve mileage. Using the wrong type of motor oil can reduce your mileage up to 2 percent. (See References 1.)
Drive More Efficiently
Drive cautiously, not aggressively. Aggressive driving entails excessive acceleration and frequent braking, which wastes energy. Aggressive driving is also dangerous. Slow down and stay with the flow of traffic. Doing so improves mileage up to 5 percent with city driving, and up to 33 percent on the highway. (See References 2.)
Drive slower generally. Gas mileage decreases rapidly when you drive above 60 mph. Every 5 mph that you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gasoline, based on a gas price of $3.79 per gallon. (See References 2.)
Turn off the air conditioner. Air conditioning can reduce mileage up to 20 percent (see References 3). Use your vehicle's flow-through ventilation system at high speeds, and open the windows at lower speeds.
Carry only what you need in your vehicle. Excessive weight reduces mileage and can also make braking less effective. Excess baggage hinders smaller cars more than larger vehicles, but each additional 100 lbs. of cargo reduces mileage by 2 percent on average (see References 2).
Use your roof rack only when absolutely necessary. When possible, place gear inside the trunk instead. Putting anything on top of your vehicle creates drag and reduces mileage. (See References 3.)
Turn off your engine if you will be waiting in one place for more than a minute. Your engine uses about as much gasoline during 10 seconds of idling as it takes to restart the engine (see References 3).
Plan your day to avoid driving during rush hour. Rush-hour traffic means more braking and idling, as well as a greater risk of accidents. When possible, combine trips to do all your driving at one time, rather than in several sessions. It takes a few miles for your engine to heat up and reach peak efficiency, so run your errands while the engine is still warm. (See References 3.)
Use overdrive gears and cruise control, particularly for long highway trips. Both of these features generally improve mileage. (See References 3.)
Eric Moll began writing professionally in 2006. He wrote an opinion column for the "Arizona Daily Wildcat" and worked as an editor for "Persona Literary Magazine." He has a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and creative writing from the University of Arizona.
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