15 Ways To Save Money On Gas
There are many expenses associated with owning a car, but one of the most frequently recurring (and potentially frustrating) is fuel costs. Yes, maintenance can be costly, but fuel, whether gas or diesel, is an expense that cannot be stretched or put off for another couple hundred miles; when you need it, you need it, or you won’t reach your destination. Fluctuating fuel costs mean that gas mileage has become a bigger priority in recent years. There are fuel-efficient options available for a growing variety of models. However, fuel-efficient and hybrid models are the exceptions rather than the rule. Fuel economy can be frustrating for the average driver, as it’s easy to feel like you’re pouring money straight down into your gas tank each time you fill up. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can employ to help maximize your fuel economy and get the most for your money. Even small adjustments to your driving style can help make a noticeable difference in your gas mileage.
- Ease off those pedals! We often have a tendency to accelerate and brake too quickly, which simply burns excess fuel. When accelerating, don’t put the pedal to the metal. Ease onto the gas and accelerate gradually. The same goes for braking: don’t slam on your brakes at the last moment trying to drive like a stunt driver. Brake slowly and give yourself plenty of space to slow down. This leads us into another point:
- Allow yourself room to maneuver. Don’t follow too closely to other drivers; nobody likes a tailgater. Leaving plenty of space in front of your vehicle allows you to accelerate and brake more gradually (are you noticing a pattern here?), which will save your vehicle’s energy, in turn saving you money at the pump.
- Watch the weight. There can sometimes be a temptation to treat our vehicles as our own personal cargo vessels, but paring down the amount of stuff you carry can make an impact on how far you can go on a full tank. Empty out your trunk of anything that doesn’t absolutely need to be there, and keep in mind that driving with passengers will add to the weight of your car, requiring more energy to go the same distance. Similarly...
- Reduce drag. While roof racks and other accessories can certainly make your car look cooler, they not only add weight, they also add air resistance that can translate to fewer miles to the gallon. Keep the accessories to a minimum and make your vehicle as aerodynamic as possible.
- Stick to the fuel type recommended for your vehicle. For most of us, cheap petrol is suitable, but it is important to stick to within the minimum octane range for your vehicle. Don’t try to bow out and buy cheap gas for a vehicle that is rated for a higher-octane fuel, and don’t think you’re doing yourself too much of a favor by putting expensive gas into a car rated for lower octane fuels.
- Keep your gas cap fully sealed. An unsealed or faulty gas cap can allow fuel vapor to escape, letting money slip through your grasp. Replace your gas cap if it’s leaking (a very affordable fix), and make sure to tighten it to the manufacturer’s specifications each time you refuel.
- Air up those tires. It’s important to maintain correct tire pressure: running on low pressure increases the resistance where the tire meets the road, meaning more energy is required to push your car along the road. Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure can significantly impact your gas mileage.
- Use the motor oil recommended by your manufacturer. Aftermarket providers put a lot of effort into drumming up interest for their products. While some do deliver on their claims of better gas mileage and improved performance, it is important to note that these claims are not specific to your vehicle. It is best to choose the motor oil recommended by your manufacturer, as your vehicle has been designed and tested to perform the best with that oil under a variety of conditions.
- Avoid all that idling. While some amount of idling is unavoidable, such as in a traffic jam, you should avoid idling for prolonged periods when you could turn off the car. Most modern cars are sufficiently efficient that you are better off turning off the car and then turning it back on when you are ready than waiting in idle.
- Drive in the highest possible gear without stressing your engine. If you’re driving a manual, this is easy and makes a lot of sense. The higher the gear, the more fuel efficient it is to drive in, so if you can drive in a higher gear you could save money at the pump. Of course, it can be helpful to downshift if you need to accelerate more quickly, but for cruising speeds a higher gear can offer an easy solution. If you’re driving an automatic, just go easy on that throttle and make sure overdrive is on.
- Refuel in the morning, as opposed to later in the day. It might sound silly, but this tip takes advantage of basic physics. Fueling stations’ storage tanks are located deep underground and in the morning that ground is cooler, making the petrol contained within it denser. Thus, you get more gas per gallon in the morning than in the afternoon once the earth has had a chance to heat up. While it’s only going to save you a couple bucks at a time, that can add up quickly if you refuel 2-3 times a week.
- Give your fuel injectors an ultrasonic bath. While this one is quite pricey, it can make a difference if you’re routinely getting lower gas mileage than you’d expect for your vehicle. The mechanic will immerse the injectors in a fluid-filled chamber and then subject the ultra-high-frequency vibrations that remove all the gunk from them. This leads to more efficient burning of fuel, which in turn leads to better gas mileage.
- Don’t neglect your air filter. This is by far one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your gas mileage. Like a vacuum cleaner, your engine’s air filter can be clogged with dirt or debris, affecting its suction power. Maintaining a clean air filter helps your engine circulate air uninhibited, thereby using less energy. Air filters are cheap. Seriously. Even a top of the line K&N air filter is only going to run you about $45, and those can be washed and reused!
- Be choosy about your wheels. While flashy wheels can make a car look infinitely sleeker, be careful not to choose something too heavy, or too large so that it won't impact your car’s fuel economy. Even if you’re going with a super-light alloy for your wheels, if you go more than a couple sizes larger than the recommended size you’re going to get a heavier wheel, and definitely a wheel that requires more travel to rotate. Choose wheels that fit your car and choose lighter materials where possible. While we're not going to suggest everyone rush out and spend $5,000 on carbon fiber wheels, we will say that stock OEM wheels size 17 or smaller will give you much better gas mileage than a blingy 20" Lexani.
- Track your mileage. Mileage tracking apps such as Everlance make it easy to keep records of how far you drive and what your mileage is at your fingertips, making tracking your fuel economy easier than ever! Automatic mileage tracking makes it easy for you to keep thorough records and know exactly how far you’ve driven.
While it’s true that you can only affect your gas mileage so much with any given intervention, there are a number of strategies that can help extend your fuel economy and get you the best value for your dollar at the pump and we've given you 15 ways to help the cause. Through a combination of some or all of these strategies, you can dramatically improve your gas mileage and offset the price of fuel with higher tax deductions.