How to Save Lots of Gas

If you really want to reduce your fuel costs then don’t drive.  Simple, but true, try walking, biking or talking someone else into using their gas.

If you are going to drive your own car and use your own fuel then the most effective thing will be to reduce weight.  Go through your vehicle and see what you can take out.  Weight is the biggest contributing factor to gas mileage.  Guess why Hummers get such crappy mileage?  Get a car that doesn’t weigh much or reduce the weight of what you have.  So clean your car inside and out as well as rinsing dirt off the underside and wheel wells.  If you want to clean the engine compartment wait until it is cool and spray it down with Simple Green and rinse.  Do that a couple of times and you will have a sparkling engine compartment.  You will have gotten rid of dirt and its weight, and you will now be able to notice any leaks or problems much quicker.

Keep your tire pressures where they should be.  Take the factory recommended pressures (usually on a sticker in the door jamb) and boost them up by two or three pounds.  You might end up wearing the middle of the tire’s tread, but you can often cut the rolling resistance down.  Just be aware that it will mean a harsher ride and you need to be cautious about wear and handling changes. 

Use nitrogen in your tires.  Your tire pressures will be much more stable and it will show up in better gas mileage and longer tire wear.  Normal compressed air contains a lot of nitrogen, but it also contains oxygen and water vapor, among other things.  Its not snake oil – nitrogen works.

Get a tune up.  Forget buying miracle magnets or turbo intake twirlers that claim to increase mileage by at least 10%.  Perform the maintenance that should be done like changing spark plugs, wires, coil packs, air filter, gas filter, etc.  Change your oil and rotate your tires (if possible) on a regular basis.

Make sure your car is aligned.  While getting it aligned the technician will be able to tell you if you have ball joints or tie rod ends that are worn or damaged.  Replace them, if necessary.  Those worn items will cost you in fuel and affect the safety of your vehicle.

Drive like fuel costs $20 a gallon.  Pretend you have a raw egg under your foot.  You will piss off the drivers around you, but you will save fuel if you ease on the gas ever so gently and minimize your use of the brake (be safe – use your brakes to keep out of trouble).  Adopt as smooth a driving style as possible.  Sitting at stop lights you are getting zero miles per gallon.  You might want to shut off the car if you know you will be stopped for a while, like at a railroad crossing or waiting in line to fill up.

It costs money to drive a complex vehicle like we have today.  Don’t take it for granted.  Keep it maintained and clean.  Don’t haul around unnecessary weight.  Drive smoothly and carefully.  Don’t drive if you can avoid it and plan your routes ahead of time.

Gas will not get any cheaper and someday it will essentially be gone.  Try the above and save your money for an electric car.

This entry was posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Care and Feeding, Cars, Servicing Cars and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to How to Save Lots of Gas

  1. Jim says:

    When one tire chain here started offering nitrogen (with a cute young thing extolling the virtues in their TV ads) I thought this had to be the old joke come true, about the mechanic telling the woman he needed to replace the winter air in her tires with summer air. Now you’re telling me nitrogen is the real deal!

    With gas prices at $4/gal in Indiana, I’m sure glad my little Matrix gets 30 mpg in town and 35 on the highway. But I remember my larger ’89 Chevy Beretta got 35/40, and my ’83 Renault Alliance got like 38/42. But each of those was, in turn, lighter than the car that replaced it. Although I swear that Alliance was a hybrid: gas/hamster.

  2. I am glad my car gets 32 mpg, but I wish I didn’t have to commute 160 miles round trip 3 days a week to go my job (actually my Ph.D. program). At least when this is over in three years I can get a home close enough to my work that I can either bike, ride a scooter, or walk.

  3. Very helpful. Thank you. From taking care of an elderly friend
    I have had a lot of heavy things (wheelchairs, etc…) stored in
    my car, that don’t need to be in there all the time… I never,
    ever thought about the fuel related repercussions !

  4. rocketreferral says:

    We recommend people to cut out the floorboards in their cars and kick it flintstone style

  5. jaybird says:

    Great tips, especially considering the way the price of gas is going.

  6. wordilydoc says:

    Efficiency is key the more efficient you use that car the more you save. Great tips!

  7. ajiedmerican says:

    thanks dude.. I’m struggling like hell with the cost of the fuel now.. I agree with you to avoid and get rid all the unnecessary and heavy stuff in the car. So, it’s a NO for all those over weight people who need a ride in my car !! 🙂 sorry people !! lose some weight and you are in .. haha ! cheers ..

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  9. Noel says:

    Other than a tune up, checking tire pressures and having the car clean, one of the best things you can do is drive gently and get into a high gear as often as possible. Third gear in many cars is wonderfully flexible and it’s easy to leave the car in 3rd instead of shifting to 4th in a lot of local driving (other than pure stop and go). But get to 4th gear more often and you’ll get better mileage.

    My Saab has a computer that tells me my current and trip mileage and when I go to 4th gear I see the overall mileage jump from 22-23 to 24-25 in my around town driving. I live in a semi-rural area with road speeds up to about 45 mph and don’t have a lot of stop and go traffic, but getting to 4th really makes a difference.

  10. jimsgarage says:

    Noel –

    Interesting you should mention that. When I traveled to Beijing the taxi drivers up shifted religiously. Fuel was not cheap enven back a couple of years ago. When they would line up waiting for customers at a hotel it was interesting to watch. When they were waived to pick up a fare they would push their cab up to the front so that they would not waste any fuel.

    I rarely saw them get up to 2000 rpm.

  11. Noel says:

    I’m experimenting.
    I had a meeting down in Hanover, MA the other day, so I filled up before I left. The trip computer said I got 30 mpg for the 160 mile round trip. I know it reads about 1-1.5 mpg high, so considering it was 94 degrees out, the A/C was on, and I had some stop and go on Rte 128, this was OK. It has since slipped to 28.6 mpg indicated in the last 60+ miles of local driving with stoplights and traffic, but it seems to be maintaining that if I accelerate gently, shift under 3000 rpm and go to 4th or even 5th at 45 mph. This drops the revs to under 1500 rpm at 40 mph in top gear, and the instant mileage readout is about 35-40 mpg, so it keeps the average high. It’s fun to see what can be done trying to drive as economically as possible, but it is definitely not as much fun as using that turbocharger!

    Still, this is pretty decent mileage for a 12-year old car that weighs 3250 pounds, does 0-60 in a little over 6 seconds, will run 145 mph, and is very comfy on long trips. No need to buy an econobox.

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