How to save money on gas
With fuel costs quickly rising, everyone needs to find ways to cut their spending on gas.
The average U.S. household is on track to spend more than $3,300 this year on gasoline, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit. In addition to carpooling or combining multiple trips into a single trip, there are many ways to save. There are many things you can do - aside from going out and buying a more fuel efficient car - that will help you reduce your gasoline expenses. Many require only minor adjustments to your driving style.
Ease up on the gas pedal
Seems easy enough, but are you maximizing the way you drive? For example, when approaching a stop sign, do you coast up to the stop, or accelerate up to it and brake heavily? Likewise, do you gently ease away from the stop sign, or hit the accelerator hard to get back up to speed quickly? Depending on how you drive, this can heavily affect your fuel consumption. For every 5 mph you reduce highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by 7 percent.
Go with the flow: Lay off the brakes to decrease fuel consumption
This may sound kind of odd, as a car burns most of its fuel during acceleration. So why care about how - or how much - you brake? Here's why: once a car achieves momentum, the engine works far less to maintain that speed. Constant braking causes the car to lose that momentum, and you have to accelerate to regain speed.
To combat this, look ahead and try to anticipate when the traffic will slow and take your foot off the accelerator as you approach. By anticipating it is relatively easy to hold a steady speed in traffic without constantly stepping on the brake and then accelerating. Keep a little extra distance between your car and the car in front of you, which will allow you to gradually slow and start up. If traffic is moving along steadily, you'll rarely need to brake, and this is an efficient way to save gas. Keep the journey smooth, and you'll see fuel consumption decrease.
Note: If you must slow down or stop, do so by all means. The goal is to avoid over-accelerating and then having to use the brakes to compensate when in traffic.
Perform regular maintenance
Inflate and align your tires. This will reduce the contact area of your tire to the road and reduce friction. It will help to improve gas mileage. Poor alignment causes tires to wear out more quickly, and forces your engine to work harder.
Use the correct grade of motor oil. Using the proper grade of oil decreases the friction inside your engine, keeping it cooler and letting it run more efficiently.
Replace your air filter. A clean air filter can increase gas mileage compared to a dirty one. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to find out how often you need a new filter.
Fill up the tank midweek
If you're looking to fill up at the "best" time, try to do it on Wednesday or early Thursday. Prices are usually raised on Thursday mornings in anticipation of weekend travel.
Rent a car for long trips
An easy way to save if you must make a long trip by car: rent a more fuel-efficient one than you currently drive. The fuel savings can easily often offset the cost of the rental. You'll also reduce wear and tear on your primary vehicle.
How you drive and how you maintain your vehicle will determine what type of gas mileage you'll get. As you can see, big changes can be made with some small steps: easing up on the accelerator, especially when starting out from a complete stop; coasting when possible, and maintaining your engine and tires properly. You'll be reaping the rewards in no time.