The Ten Best Ways to Save Money on Gas

The Ten Best Ways to Save Money on Gas

A few weeks ago, gas prices at our local gas station were flirting with the $4 mark. Today, they’re about $0.30 lower, but still high. I thus thought it would be worth sharing this list of the ten ways to save money on gas from the Consumer Federation of America.

Note that I’ve sorted these ideas from the most to least effective, and that the estimated savings (on a per gallon basis) are based on gas priced at $3.85/gallon. This is sort of a strange way of calculating things, but I’ll run with it since that’s how it was presented.

  1. Don’t ride your brakes. Driving with your foot on the brake not only wears out your brakes, but can also reduce fuel efficiency by 35%. Take your foot off the brake, and you can save the equivalent of $1.35/gallon.
  2. Drive more smoothly. By accelerating and decelerating smoothly, you can improve your mileage by 33% on the highway and 5% around town. This works out to an equivalent of $0.68/gallon. See “Hack Your MPG” for my experience with driving smarter to save gas.
  3. (tie) Check your air filter. Having a clean air filter can improve mileage by as much as 10%, or an equivalent of $0.39/gallon.
  4. (tie) Check your alignment. A poor alignment not only wears out your tires ahead of schedule, it also reduces mileage by as much as 10%. Straighten things out and you can save the equivalent of $0.39/gallon.
  5. Don’t speed. Did you know that for every 5 mph you reduce your highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 7%? Slow down from 70 to 65, and you can save the equivalent of $0.27/gallon.
  6. Tune up your engine. A properly tuned engine can be as much as 4% more efficient, resulting in an effective savings of $0.15/gallon.
  7. Check your tire pressure. Improper tire inflation isn’t just dangerous – it can also be expensive. On average, car tires are 7.5% underinflated, resulting in a 2.8% loss in fuel efficiency. Inflate your tires and save the equivalent of $0.11/gallon.
  8. Lose (or remove) weight. For every 100 extra pounds that you carry around you can lose as much as 1-2% in fuel efficiency. Get rid of that junk in your trunk (or in your car’s trunk) and save the equivalent of $0.03/gallon.
  9. Check your fuel cap. A broken or missing gas cap can reduce mileage by as much as 1% and also harm the environment. Fix or replace it and save the equivalent of $0.03/mile.
  10. Don’t idle. For every two minutes of idling that you avoid, you can save the equivalent $0.01/gallon. It’s not a lot, but if you idle a lot (or spend a lot of time warming up your car) it can add up. After all, you’re burning gas and going nowhere for a grand total of 0 mpg.

To these, I would add: Drive less. Walking, biking, combining trips, telecommuting, and just plain old staying home are by far the most effective ways to reduce your fuel costs. After all, if you’re not driving, you’re not using gas. Period.

You can further reduce your fuel costs by using a gas credit card that pays rewards each time you fill up. Compare credit card offers to find the one that’s the best fit for your lifestyle.

Source: Consumer Federation of America

5 Responses to “The Ten Best Ways to Save Money on Gas”

  1. Anonymous

    To me – driving less is the key! There are so many ways to get creative and save gas – whether it’s carpooling, biking, etc.

    Just think of what you would do if you didn’t have a car! You’d figure out a way to get where you needed to go…

  2. Anonymous

    Simply drive as if you have an egg under your foot. I get on average 5-7 MPG better than my wife at the same speed.

    Works every time.

  3. Anonymous

    I kept thinking “what about not driving at all?” looking through your list and was glad you hit it at the end. Many people may not want to hear it, but the best way to save money on something is not to use it at all. Plus, with America’s burgeoning waistlines we can clearly afford to walk to get the exercise instead of driving any day.

  4. Nickel

    Yes, a big advantage of “pre-emptive coasting” is that the red light up ahead may turn green before you have to stop if you just take your foot of the gas and coast a bit as you approach.

  5. Anonymous

    “Accelerate smoothly” There is a happy medium between jack-rabbit starts and spending 2 minutes getting up to speed. Your vehicle is more efficient at a cruising speed that is usually between 55 and 70 mph depending on the vehicle. Usually about 60% throttle until you reach your cruising speed is the most efficient way to accelerate.

    Deceleration should be done smoothly and slowly when traffic allows it. Cut the throttle early and coast to a slower speed before applying the brakes. If you have another driver behind you, especially a heavy truck of some kind, signal early so they can back off and maintain your speed a little longer. A semi-truck will waste far more fuel than you if you force them to brake and re-accelerate more than necessary.

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