Inevitably, every year, rising gas prices makes the news. While there’s nothing we can do about the price fluctuations, we can be more efficient with our gas by changing the way we drive.
Here are 12 tips on how to save money on gas.
1. Lighten up on the gas pedal. A car uses the most gas when it accelerates. A moving car uses less gas than a car that a car that starts from a stop. I’m not saying, don’t use your breaks. But there are times when you can let off your gas pedal to slow down, instead of braking. An example is when you approach a red light that may soon turn green. When you reach the stoplight and it turns green, you can keep coasting along instead of coming to a complete stop. Give yourself plenty of room when following other cars and be cautious of red light runners crossing the intersection.
2. Move away from cars who constantly step on their brakes. People who brake a lot use a lot of gas. And if they are driving right in front of you, they will cause you to brake excessively too and waste gas. Change lanes if you can. These people annoy me because they will step on the brakes even when nothing is in front of them. For example, they are in the middle of the block, no one is in front of them, and there are no stoplights or stop signs coming up. They decide to brake for no reason.
3. Look 10 seconds ahead. If you always look ahead, you can anticipate accidents, obstructions, or traffic slow downs, then you can plan and adjust accordingly. You will be able to change lanes, if necessary, to avoid coming to a complete stop and getting stuck behind the obstruction.
4. Close your windows. You’ve probably heard this many times but it’s a good reminder. If you close your windows, it will cause less wind drag on your car. This is most applicable when driving on the freeway. Use the ventilation system or AC instead.
5. Lighten up your load. It’s true. Weight affects the amount of gas a vehicle uses. Try to remove unnecessary items from your car that may be weighing it down, such as people! J/K. I notice my car works harder when I’m driving someone vs. when I’m driving myself.
Check out how American Airlines saved $3 million/year. Hint: they went to great lengths to remove items in the cabin to lighten up on fuel costs.
6. Turn your car off. When you anticipate that you won’t be moving for a few minutes, it’s better to turn off the car than to let it idle. Some examples are when you’re waiting for someone or waiting in a gas line. You can use your best judgment when this tip applies. One website said that starting your car uses the same amount of gas as idling for 6 seconds. I don’t know if this is true but it’s an interesting comparison.
7. Fill up efficiently. It might seem like you’re using less money by filling up your tank partially, but the multiple trips to the gas station and waiting in line wastes your time and money. Fill up your tank until it’s full. If possible, wait until you’re at a quarter tank to fill up, but don’t chance it beyond that. That way, you can take advantage of the lighter fuel load and extend your gas mileage. This isn’t applicable if you commute long distances, as you don’t want to get stuck on the freeway because you ran out of gas!
8. Drive at a constant speed. Freeway driving is more fuel efficient than city driving, that is if the freeway isn’t congested. My car can go more miles before filling up on gas, whenever I drive on the freeway more than if I take city streets.
Choose your route accordingly. Sometimes, popular main thoroughfares are not the best option because of heavy traffic. For example, there are certain streets in San Francisco that most people take because they are main streets. But these streets are always congested due to heavy traffic and multiple lights. However, if you take the next street over, which is less popular, you can avoid the traffic and get to your destination faster.
In city driving, one way streets are faster since you don’t have to wait for cars in the opposite direction turning left. Also, try to avoid streets with a lot of foot traffic and storefronts, as you will spend more time and gas, waiting for pedestrians and other vehicles.
9. Don’t tailgate. Not only is it annoying to others, but it can be dangerous. One time, while driving on the freeway, I saw a car who was tailgating at a high speed. When the car in front of them stopped suddenly, this tailgater had to brake fast and hard, causing their brakes to smoke. Luckily they didn’t hit the car in front of them, but I’m sure it was embarrassing. Instead, keep a safe following distance.
10. Keep up with car maintenance. Regular oil changes, proper tire inflation, changing spark plugs, keeping your water tank filled with water or antifreeze (according to climate), all go a long way towards keeping your car running efficiently. Likewise, if your car is making weird sounds or starts to drive differently, take it to your mechanic as soon as possible. Waiting too long may cause more damage to your car and higher repair costs.
11. Find cheap gas. Find the cheapest gas station near you.
12. Limit your driving. Try to walk, bike, carpool, or take public transportation when you can. Here are other ways to limit your driving.
Photo credit: Marcin Wichary