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April 2011
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Gas reaching $4.00 or more scare you?
40 Tips to save on gas

The gas gauge is headed down to “E” — again — and unleaded regular fuel has left the $3.50 mile post well behind. If these recent headlines have you worried:
  • Gas prices are soaring to record levels and it’s not even summer yet.
  • Prices are soaring over a $100 a barrel of oil as trouble pours out of the Middle East.
It’s time to think about ways to starve off a case of pump panic. The basics are repeated every time gas prices rise, but here are 40 common sense tips to help reduce the bite gas has on your paycheck.
1. Keep your tires properly inflated.
Buy a quality tire gauge and check the pressure of your tires.... remember to check while they're cold and do it at least once a month. When your tires are under-inflated, they require much more horsepower to rotate, thus consuming more gas. Do you need to inflate your tires up to the numbers shown on a tire sidewall? No... Tire maker stamps *maximum allowed* pressure there. Only your car maker knows what pressure is right for your car. And it is always lower than "maximum allowed". Even though over-inflating your tires will improve your gas mileage, there are a number of major downsides. With over-inflated tires, you will experience much faster tread wear in the middle of your tires. That extra wear will have you buying new set of tires much earlier than you might expect. The cost of new tires will wipe out any savings you might otherwise realize from gas savings. Also, over-inflating your tires makes them much harder and will cause a very uncomfortable ride... rough and bumpy. Finally, if you over inflate your tires, you'll have worse traction, significantly impairing your safety. Most cars have a label that lists proper tire pressure, usually on a plate attached to the driver’s door. Also, your owner's manual has the original tire specifications and required inflation pressures. As long as you haven't changed tire sizes, these are the numbers you want to target. To stabilize your tires inflation you may want to consider asking about the use of nitrogen instead of air in your tires on your next service visit.
2. Don't haul anything you don't absolutely need, around with you, lighten your load.
Check your trunk, glove box, also your front and back seats for belongings that you really don't need on a permanent basis. This won't save you a fortune (unless you have a habit of driving with the full trunk all the time) - but with gas prices headed closer to the $4.00 mark, it does save enough to consider an automotive clean out, and it doesn't cost a dime. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a typical car’s fuel economy by up to two percent.
3. When old man winter coats your car with snow and ice, try to remove as much of is as you can, do not just clear a hole in the windshield.
Snow and ice add significant weight to your car; they also increase aerodynamic drag dramatically... which burns even more gas. As a side benefit, clean clear windows improve your ability to see, which improves your margin of safety in dangerous winter driving.
4. Remove bicycle or ski racks in between trips.
It's not really the extra weight that hurts your gas mileage; it's mostly aerodynamic drag.
5. Avoid packing items on top of your car.
A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent.
6. Don’t fly flags on your car.
Don’t fly flags outside your car’s windows. Yep, your guess is correct – it’s aerodynamic drag we are talking about here... and your gas bill.
7. Do not fill your tank up completely.
Instead, keep it half full. Depending on your tank size, your car will have 50-100 pounds less to haul all the time... less weight, less gas.
8. Fill your tank at the coolest time of day.
Fuel is denser when it's cool in the early morning or late night... Your engine consumes fuel by weight but gas pumps dispense fuel by volume. The colder the fuel is when you pump it, the more of it you get for the same money.
9. Try not to stomp on the gas anymore than you need to.
Aggressive acceleration equals maximum gas consumption. Stop aggressive driving. You can improve your gas mileage up to five percent around town if you avoid “jackrabbit” starts and stops by anticipating traffic conditions and driving gently.  The slower you accelerate, the better your gas mileage will be. On the other hand, if you creep along like a snail, the drivers behind you will get mad. Experiment with how little “pedal” your car needs to move at a reasonable traffic speed and save your gas.
10. Likewise, try not to slam on your brakes.
The more you brake, the more you have to accelerate afterwards, and that costs money. Accelerate smoothly and brake smoothly. Ideally you want to accelerate once, and then drive at a constant speed until you arrive at your destination. There are too many moving pieces to get stopping and starting patterns right every time, but the closer you get to constant speeds, the more gas you will save. Next time you are in for service ask for a brake inspection to ensure they are properly adjusted, so you are not causing an aerodynamic drag and reducing your fuel economy.
11. Use the landscape to your advantage.
If the road goes up and down, don't try to maintain a constant speed. Let your car accelerate down the hill, so its inertia will help it climb up the next hill, and let the speed decrease slightly while you are going up. Of course you have to coordinate this with the traffic flow.
12. If you have several cars, use the one with the best gas mileage for daily commuting.
That car is usually easier to park, too.
13. Plan your route to avoid traffic jams.
Because you can't avoid excessive idling, braking and acceleration while in traffic, traffic is usually responsible for a big chunk of your gas consumed. You might avoid jams sometimes however, if you learn traffic patterns in your area and use them to your advantage.
14. Optimize your route. 
Common sense tells you the less distance you drive, the less gas you use. If you have several stops to make, see how you can route your trip to have the minimum number of miles driven. Keep an eye out for traffic jams, however – often you are better off driving more miles (sometimes even several dozens of miles) than sitting in traffic jams.
15. Consider alternate transportation.
If you can walk, bike, or use public transportation it is sometimes more convenient and cost effective. Yes, you actually save gas (and money) when you are not using your car.
16. Consider carpooling if possible.
Sure, it's inconvenient sometimes, but it's the single most efficient way to save money on your daily commute.
17. Get a credit card with 5% rebates on gas,
If you use it for all your fuel purchases you can guarantee yourself an automatic 5% savings.
18. Should you use low octane fuel?
Maybe… If your owner's manual calls for premium, use premium. If you use regular instead, the cars computer will retard the ignition timing automatically to prevent detonation. This will have a devastating effect on gas mileage, which will more than offset lower fuel price. Your owner’s manual recommends the most effective octane level for your car. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane.
19. Do you need to do a tune-up?
You will never recover the cost of a tune-up in fuel savings. But engines that misfire waste fuel and inadequate voltage to the plugs can add up to almost a 4% decrease in fuel economy. As always, you should do regular maintenance, not only for gas saving, but also for performance and reliability. Let one of our factory trained and certified technicians inspect your vehicle and determine if a tune-up is warranted.
20. Do you need to switch to synthetic oil?
Synthetic oil is great for engines, and does help gas saving a bit, by decreasing parasitic losses in the engine. But it is significantly more expensive than the regular oil. However, if you are already considering a switch to synthetic oil for any reason, you can surely also count on some gas savings as well.
21. Do you need to quit using A/C?
Not really. If you drive at highway speeds with your windows open, aerodynamic drag will consume more gas than A/C. At lower speeds you may want to open your windows and turn the compressor off, at higher speeds, use the A/C. It's time to close the windows at 50-55 mph for most cars.
22. Should you avoid excessive idling?
Yes, but that doesn't mean you should turn off your car at a red light or when coasting in neutral. Such solutions are unsafe, and you'll consume more gas when you start your engine back up. But do try to avoid parking or idling for any prolonged period with your engine on. Remember that your engine gives you 0 MPG when idling, so when it's running it's costing you money. On the other hand, remember that starting your engine consumes the same amount of fuel as idling for a minute or so and it also puts an extra strain on your battery, starter, and ignition switch, reducing their life and leading to their premature replacement - which will surely cost you money. You just need to apply common sense here.
23. Do you need to use cruise control?
Speed control works best on straight roads. If the road you're on has hills, you lose. Experienced drivers will disengage the control, accelerate down the hill and decelerate up the hill. Cruise control will try to maintain the speed, loosing inertia down the hill and guzzling gas up the hill.
24. Should you stop warming up your car on cold mornings and start driving right away?
It depends... a warm up consumes an enormous amount of gas. You won't hurt the vehicle by driving right away... but you will be cold till the heat is working. So this is sort of a climate dependent answer, if you're in the Chicago area in say January, and the temperature is -20F *inside* your car, by all means let it warm up first.
25. Do you need to shop around for better gas prices?
Sure, just don't overdo this and burn 5 gallons of gas while you search for a better price. The price difference is probably not going to be more than a few cents so keep this in mind and use your common sense. Use your phone or the Internet instead of driving to every gas station around. MapQuest recently started a "Find Gas Prices" service.
26. Do you need to use a fuel injector cleaner?
Maybe... it is definitely beneficial to your engine's well being as well as gas mileage to have your injectors clean. Just don't overdo this. A reasonable mileage interval is 10,000 to 15,000 for injector additives. Clean fuel injectors will minimize misfires and allow for the best detonations of the fuel used. 
27. Should you drive in a higher gear?
Sort of... especially in a standard shift, you want to drive in the highest possible gear, without overloading your engine. Generally an engine is most efficient around the middle of its RPM range. More specifically - slightly lower than the torque peak RPM's. If you are in too high a gear your engine RPM'S will "lug" or drag down the engine. Keeping an engine speed too low (closer to idle) will overload the engine, increasing its wear and seriously hurting gas mileage. Automatics do the thinking for you, but with manual you have to develop this skill for yourself.
28. Do you need to slow down to 55 mph to save fuel?
Not really... every vehicle has its most efficient speed in the highest gear. It differs depending on the design of the car, and things like tire pressure, open windows, bike racks, etc. The 55 mph speed limits come from the 1970s, when a nationwide speed limit was established in an attempt to reduce gas consumption at the time of an energy crisis. This attempt failed miserably by the way, but that's another story. Which does not mean speed does not matter... it does. For modern aerodynamically enhanced cars, the most efficient average speed is more in the range of 65 mph or even higher. You don't want to exceed that speed if you are trying to maximize gas mileage. At higher speeds, the main gas eater is aerodynamic drag, which is proportional to the square of your speed. That means your car needs four times more fuel to overcome the drag when you double your speed.
29. Do you need to buy a more fuel efficient car?
Sure you do! But it is probably not a good idea to dump your gas guzzler below market so you can replace it with a new vehicle. If you are shopping for a new vehicle however, most cars have become more fuel efficient with each passing generation. So a newer generation of your current model will in most cases provide better fuel economy than you current vehicle.
30. Do you need to replace your air filter?
Yes... Because on modern cars, computers compensate for clogged air filters. You lose performance if your filter is clogged, by providing maximum air flow you may actually save up to 10% in fuel economy. As an added benefit, your vehicle will perform better and remember regular maintenance is the key to overall vehicle performance.
31. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for occasional misalignment.
Bent wheels, axles, bad shocks, broken springs, etc. create engine drag and are unsafe at high traveling speeds.
32. Keep tuned to radio traffic reports to help avoid traffic jams and other delays.
33. Make certain your gas cap fits properly.
Gas will evaporate from your car's gas tank if it has an escape. Loose, missing or damaged gas caps cause 147 million gallons of gas to evaporate each year, according to the Car Care Council. So be sure to tighten up that gas cap each time you fuel up your car.
34. Keep wheels aligned for better mileage - Longer tire life, too
35. Don't skimp on maintenance.
Be serious about auto care. Your car's performance depends on it.
36. Stoplights are usually timed for your motoring advantage.
By traveling steadily at the legal speed limit you boost your chances of having the “green light” all the way.
37. Use Your Smart Phone
There are plenty of money-saving apps dedicated to trimming everyday expenses, some of which include travel costs. The GasBuddy app will coordinate your location with the best gas prices in your area. Another app worth test driving is CheapGas, which provides precise directions to the nearest and least-expensive gas station.
38. Shop online.
If you spend evenings or weekends running errands to various stores, consider ordering products online and let someone else pay for the gas. This is a great way to save if you can find free shipping online or lower product prices to compensate for shipping fees. Free shipping often comes in the form of a coupon code used at online checkout. Use a search engine with keywords "coupon code" and the retailer's name
39. Have your vehicle checked by a factory certified technician before long road trips.
Pay attention to fluids, hoses and leaks.
40. Shut off the engine.
  1. Don't sit gabbing on your phone in the parking lot with the engine uselessly running.
  2. Don't sit waiting for your youngsters outside the school with the engine running.
  3. Don't pull into the driveway to dash in for that whatever you forgot and leave the engine running.
Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up; most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.


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