Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 9:57am by admin
Fuel costs are rising, summer is approaching with its typically higher gas prices, and there is no end in sight. Any way to save money by using less gas is a welcome relief. From using alternate transportation to changing how it works, the following suggestions will help you find a way to use less gas. While you may not be able to take advantage of all these great tips, there is sure to be enough to help you and your wallet.
If you can lose the car altogether, that is the best way to use less gas. Even if you don’t sell your car outright, using it occasionally while relying on these suggestions most of the time will save you tons.
- Walk. Take advantage of the easiest and cheapest form of transportation–walking. If your destination is within a mile or two, you can easily walk the distance. Not only will you save gas, but you will be doing something healthy for your body, too.
- Take the bus. Grab a bus schedule and try taking the bus instead of jumping in your car for every trip. Some cities offer days with free bus rides when pollution is high, too.
- Park and Ride. Is the bus stop too far from your house? Many places offer park and ride options. Drive your car to a designated parking lot, then catch the bus from that location. You will significantly reduce the gas you use that way.
- Catch the Train. If your city has light rail or some type of commuter train, ride the train to your destination. Trains are an option for traveling as well. Check out the AMTRAK schedule and see if you can plan your next trip on the train.
- Ride a bike. Bicycles aren’t just for kids. Hop on your bike and get to your destination more quickly than walking. And just like walking, if you are going somewhere within a few miles, the bike makes a lot of sense. Here’s a few more reasons to ride your bike.
- Xtracycle. So you have kids and say you can’t ride a bike and transport them, too? Now you can with the Xtracycle. Think how much gas you’ll save using this baby. Also, check out this blog post from Clever Cycles that demonstrates more multi-folk bike riding.
- Drive a scooter. Scooters are all the rage right now. Trade in your car and buy a scooter outright. You’ll have no car payment and the scooters get up to 80 miles to the gallon.
- Motorcycle. Somewhere between a car and a scooter lies the motorcycle. You can’t beat the gas savings you will get with a motorcycle, plus you can enjoy the freedom of the open road.
- Rollerblade. Rather than walk, why not rollerblade to work? It’s much faster and still requires no gas. Read this to find out if rollerblading will work for you.
- Segway. Security guards and tour guides are showing up on Segways, so why not ride one to work? Find out how this blogger enjoyed his first try with a Segway.
Improve Your Car from the Inside
By making sure your car is running smoothly and in tip top shape, you will be using much less gas when you drive your car. Find out the most important elements to ensuring good gas mileage for your car.
- Check your air filter. Check your air filter to see if it needs to be changed. Consider upgrading to a better quality filter. Both of these suggestions will keep gas money in your pocket. Learn how to change your air filter yourself with this article.
- Change your fuel filter. Like your air filter, keeping your fuel filter clean will help improve your gas mileage. Check your car manual to find out how frequently you need to change it.
- Change your oil. Getting your oil changed regularly keeps your car in shape and reduces the amount of gas it uses. Change your oil every 5,000 miles unless you live in a hot climate, then every 3,000 miles.
- Check your oxygen sensor. If your "Check Engine" light is on, chances are it might be the oxygen sensor. If you need a new oxygen sensor, you can improve your fuel economy considerably by replacing it.
- Use correct grade motor oil. Take a look at your car’s owner’s manual to determine the correct grade motor oil for your car. Using the right grade will improve performance and save you gas. Learn more about selecting the proper grade and why.
- Use synthetic motor oil. By reducing engine friction, synthetic oil will improve your gas mileage. Again, check your car manual to ensure this is a safe alternative.
- Buy radial tires. Radial tires create less friction and are longer-lasting. Not only will you save on gas, but you won’t have to replace your tires as quickly either. Read this entertaining look back at how one car was modified to get better gas mileage in the 1970s. Check out #6 for radial tire information and how it can help you today.
- Change spark plugs. Ditch the old spark plugs and get your car set up with new ones to improve the performance of your car. You will save money on gas when your car runs better.
- Check fluid levels. Low fluid levels will prevent your car from running at its peak. Get fluids to the appropriate levels and you’ll see better gas mileage. Learn which fluid levels are important and how to check them.
- Add a fuel injector cleaner. Each time you change the oil in your car, add a fuel injector cleaner to ensure your fuel injection system is performing at its peak.
- Check for leaks. One great way to save money on gas is by keeping it in your tank. Make sure your gas isn’t leaking on to the road.
- Check radiator thermostat. If you drive an older car, make sure your radiator thermostat is working properly. If not, you are wasting gas.
- Improve Your Car from the Outside. How your car performs is just part of the picture. You can also follow these suggestions for your car above the hood to improve your fuel efficiency.
- Check your tire pressure. When your tires are inflated to the proper pressure, your car drives more efficiently. Check your tire pressure often and you’ll save gas.
- Take out the junk. Make sure you aren’t carrying around too much extra stuff in your car or in the trunk. 100 pounds of added weight in your car will significantly affect your gas mileage. This blog post explains how weight of the car affects mileage.
- Clear the roof. Carrying stuff on your roof such as roof racks or ladders causes drag which will use more gas. Take off anything you don’t need and you’ll save money.
- Tint your windows. Especially if you live in a hot climate, tinting your windows can reduce the amount of air conditioning you need to use, which improves gas mileage.
- Get aligned. Your tires, that is. Proper tire alignment reduces drag, which keeps your car running more efficiently.
- Get a bed cover. If you drive an older pick-up, consider installing a bed cover. It will improve your aerodynamics, thereby decreasing drag. Newer trucks usually already have the aerodynamics designed into the vehicle.
- Check your gas cap. A broken gas cap or one that is not screwed in tightly will allow for evaporation of gas. Make sure your cap is working properly.
- Install solar vents. To reduce air conditioner usage, consider installing solar-powered window fans that exchange the warm air in the car for cooler air outside the car.
At the Pump
How you fill up your car with gas can have a big impact on how much you save. Use these tips to help reduce how much you spend for gas.
- Get a gas credit card. Many gas companies offer gas credit cards that offer discounts on gas from their stations. Make sure their prices are reasonable before the discount, though.
- Get a rebate credit card. Some credit cards offer rebates on gas purchases. Use this handy chart to see how much you can save or read this helpful article to know how to choose the best card.
- Get a membership card. Some grocery or wholesale stores offer discounts on gas with a membership card like this one. Learn what’s available in your area.
- Pay with cash. Some gas stations will give you a discount for paying with cash. Check your local stations to see if this benefit is available.
- Fill up at the right time. Filling your tank in the early morning or late evening will ensure that you are putting more liquid gas and less vapor into your car. This way, you get the most gas for your money.
- Compare prices. When you are out, pay attention to prices. But don’t drive across town just to fill up for a few cents less. You’ll be driving your savings away.
- Choose appropriate octane fuel. Unless you have a luxury car, you can probably get by with the lowest octane fuel and save yourself considerably on the gas. If you can’t use the lowest, it will probably save you money in the long run with less repair problems from using the wrong gas. Read more about why this is so.
- Fill up mid-week. Gas prices are typically higher near the weekend, so fill up your tank mid-week to get the best prices. Supposedly Wednesday is typically the cheapest day to buy gas.
- Stay at a B&B. Book your reservations for specific Bed and Breakfast inns through BedandBreakfast.com’s free gas specials to get money back for your gas.
- Don’t top off. When the gas pump shuts off automatically, don’t try to add any more. The extra gas you try to put in the tank will probably not make it into the tank.
- Fill up at a quarter tank. Don’t wait until the gas gauge hits empty before you fill up. Filling up around a quarter tank is better for your fuel injection system, thus improving your gas mileage.
Find the Fuel Online
Whether you want alternate fuel or good, old-fashioned gas, use these online fuel finders to locate the best price in your neighborhood.
- AltFuelPrices.com. Search for biodiesel, ethanol, and many other alternative fuel sources by zip code. Click on each site to find the current price.
- FuelMeUp.com. Use this online search to find the best price in your area. Search by regular, midgrade, super, or diesel and get the prices for each.
- GasBuddy.com. Enter your zip code or city to find gas prices in your area with time and date of when the price is reported. You can also easily report a price on the same page.
- GasNearU.com. This online resource seems to pinpoint by zip code very efficiently and offers an easy-to-read spreadsheet with prices for each grade. They also include the highest, lowest, and average price.
- GasPriceWatch.com. Providing gas stations with pricing on a Google map, this site is easy to use. The gas price reportings are flagged if they are older than three days.
- Motor Trend.com. Search by zip code or state to find gas prices near you. No map is included on this site, so know your streets when using this one.
- MSN Autos. Find gas stations in your zip code located on an MSN map. Scroll down to find the corresponding prices.
Choose Your Fuel
You don’t have to rely on gasoline alone. Explore some of these opportunities for alternative fuels or learn to choose the best brand of gasoline.
- Ethanol. Primarily made from starch in corn grain, this alternative fuel source is added into petroleum-based fuels. Any car made after 1970 can safely use a 10% ethanol blend. Learn the latest about ethanol at Ethanol Blog.
- Biodiesel. For those with diesel engines, an alternative fuel might be biodiesel. Like ethanol, biodiesel comes from a plant source, this time soy bean oil. It is also mixed with petroleum-based fuels. Read about some of the benefits of driving with biodiesel fuel.
- Electric. Sure, you have to buy a whole car to take advantage of this fuel source, but what a great alternative to paying for gas. Find out ten great reasons to drive electric.
- Hybrid. Again, this requires a new car purchase to take advantage of the hybrid, but using a mix of gas and electricity will help save money on fuel expenses.
- Flex-fuel. Some vehicles are equipped to take flex-fuel, or ethanol mixed at a higher blend rate than 10%. Read this article to find out more about flex-fuel, where to buy it, and how to know if your car takes it.
- Choose the brand. Some brands of gas are more expensive and some are less expensive. Do your homework to determine why they are priced differently and if paying the extra will save you in the long run or not.
Changing the way you drive can have one of the biggest impacts on your car’s gas mileage. Try these suggestions to help you to use less gas.
- Avoid idling. Turning your car off and back on again uses less gas than idling for 30 seconds in newer cars and one minute in older cars.
- Steady speed. Speeding up and slowing down abruptly uses more gas. Maintain a slower, steady speed and you will use less gas.
- Start slowly. Accelerating slowly uses less gas than putting the pedal to the metal. Leave the fast take-off for the race car drivers.
- Brake less. Don’t run into the car in front of you, but coasting more and braking less will use less gas.
- Keep your foot off the brake. Accidentally resting your foot on the brake while you drive not only creates a drag on your car that reduces gas mileage, it also shortens the life of your brakes.
- Use cruise control. Maintaining a constant speed will use less gas than driving at variable speeds. It might even encourage you to keep your speed at a slower rate, which is also better for your fuel economy.
- Turn off the A/C. Running the air conditioner uses considerably more gas. See if you can get by with the windows rolled down. This changes if you are doing highway driving, however. You will want to use the A/C to reduce the drag on your car that occurs with windows down at a faster rate of speed.
- Use overdrive. If your car has overdrive gears, use them when you are doing highway driving. This uses less gas.
- Drive 55. Highway driving over 55 mph significantly reduces the gas mileage of your vehicle. Driving slower not only saves money, but it’s safer too.
- Ride behind a large truck. On the highway, riding behind an 18-wheeler allows you to draft off the truck and use less of your gas. Just be careful you aren’t tailgating and be vigilant of the truck driver’s movements.
- No lights. Don’t use your headlights during the daytime. Turning off the lights puts less strain on the engine, which uses less gas.
- Don’t warm up. Avoid prolonged warm-up times and just start your car when you are ready to go. If it’s freezing outside, some experts suggest that allowing 30-45 seconds for warm-up is plenty.
- Shift low. If you drive a manual transmission, upshift at the lowest speed possible. This will use less gas than shifting when your RPMs are revved high.
- Turn off 4×4. If your car is equipped to turn off the four-wheel drive component, do so. Saving it for when you are off-road will save your gas.
- Don’t rev. Revving your engine just burns gas. Keep your foot off the accelerator unless you are accelerating smoothly or maintaining a constant speed.
- Take advantage of stoplights. Driving the speed limit through town will often ensure that you are taking advantage of the timing of traffic lights. Hitting all green lights means your speed stays constant and you use less gas.
- Don’t weave. Constantly changing lanes while weaving in and out of traffic will use more gas. Find a lane that is moving at a speed similar to yours and stay there.
- Stay focused. Leave the cell phone down and eat your burger somewhere else. While you are driving, stay aware of what is going on around you so that you can avoid fast breaking, sudden swerves, and variable speeds–all of which use more gas.
Think ahead to help prevent excessive gas usage. All of these tips will have you saving that precious fuel.
- Combine trips. Plan your errands so that you can make multiple stops in the same area and at the same time.
- Is it necessary? Think about the trip you are about to make in your car. If it isn’t something that has to be done, then skip it.
- Park it. Don’t drive around a parking lot looking for the closest parking space. Park and walk. Take advantage of the opportunity for some exercise.
- Park strategically. Parking in between multiple errands where you can walk from place to place will reduce the amount of driving you have to do.
- Park forward-facing. Using reverse uses more gas. Park so that you can start your car and leave facing forward.
- Choose your route carefully. Don’t go through the most traffic or you will spend your time and gas idling. Plan ahead and take the road less traveled.
- Avoid rough roads. Gravel or unpaved roads are harder on your car and require more gas to maneuver. Find another way to get there, if possible.
- Park in the shade. Gas will evaporate from your tank at a much quicker rate when it is in the direct sun. Park in the shade and keep more of your gas in the tank.
- Invest in a GPS. With a GPS, you will know exactly how to get where you are going. This saves all the gas you would have spent driving around trying to find your way.
- Use maps. If you can’t afford a GPS, rely on one of the many online maps or city maps available. Know where you are going before you get lost.
- No drive-thru. Park your car and walk into the restaurant rather than sitting in the drive-thru line. The idling or constant starting and stopping waste more gas than just parking.
- Choose your car. If you have two cars, use the one that gets better gas mileage whenever possible.
- Vacation smart. Plan vacations around non-peak times (like the middle of summer) and avoid holidays. Not only are gas prices higher, but with more cars on the road, you’re more likely to get stuck in traffic.
- Track gas mileage. Monitoring your gas mileage on a regular basis will allow you to watch for changes which could indicate a problem with your car. Being aware and fixing the problem early will help with how much gas you use.
- Grocery shop wisely. If you have to drive to the grocery store, limit your trips to once a week. If your store is within walking or biking distance, make several small trips throughout the week so that you can transport your groceries in small batches.
- Bargain shop from home. Use the telephone or computer to find the best deal instead of driving all over town. You’ll save money from the gas you save as well as the bargain you found.
- Shop mail order. Do your shopping from home. That way you don’t have to spend money for gas and can have your goodies delivered to your door.
Going to and from work is usually where most Americans use the bulk of their gas. Find ways to reduce your commute time or eliminate the number of commuters on the road.
- Carpool. Sharing the commute to work eliminates the number of cars on the roads and cuts the cost of fuel by the number of people in the car.
- Rideshare. Don’t have anyone with whom to carpool or are you traveling across country and looking for someone to share the ride? Try ERideShare.com or CarPoolConnect.com for free connections.
- Telecommute. If your boss will work with you, see if you can work from home any or every day of the week. Even eliminating just one day a week will save you gas money.
- Use flextime. If telecommuting isn’t an option where you work, try to use flextime. By allowing employees to arrive and leave at flexible times, rush hour traffic can be avoided.
- Car share. If you don’t want to own a car, but don’t want to be completely without one either, try car sharing. Simply reserve a car for a specific time period, arrive at the parking lot where the car is located, drive until your reservation time is complete, and return the car at the spot where you picked it up. Zipcar offers the convenience of a slide car that all members receive that unlocks each of their cars.
- Commuter vans. Similar to carpooling, many public transportation systems offer a van pool. A group of people going to the same location drive a commuter van together. Each city’s policies on cost and where the van stays may vary.
- Go to the gym. Or go someplace nearby your work when you finish for the day. That way you can do something positive for yourself while you let rush hour traffic die down. Who knew going to the gym could save you money?
- Move. This may only apply if you are in the market for a new house or you rent, but move closer to work so you are more easily able to take advantage of walking or one of the other alternate transportation methods.
- Take the 2 Mile Challenge. Based on the fact that 40% of urban travel is within two miles, Clif Bar has proposed the 2 Mile Challenge as a way to get people on their bikes for those two short miles. Take the challenge and use less gas.
- Work compressed work weeks. Work fewer days with longer hours to do less driving. You will also likely miss rush hour traffic this way.
- Buy a new car. If you’re driving an old gas guzzler, payments on a newer, more fuel-efficient car may cost less than the money you are spending on gas each month–especially if your car is already paid off.
- Use a combination. To really make the most impact on your gas savings, use a combination of several of these options. Just relying on one or two will not give you the best return for your money. Implement as many of these suggestions as you can into your regular routine, and you will see a big difference in that fuel bill every month.
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