No way around it. We are a nation committed to and in love with our internal combustion engines. Until we find equally convenient and cost-effective methods for fueling our automobiles, we all will spend more money than we want at the pumps. And as prices rise, so does our frustration with the high cost of gasoline.
Here are seven simple ways to maximize your dollars. You’ve heard some of these before, no doubt – but that’s only because they work!
1. Get regular tune ups
- Change the filters, oil, and sparkplugs as needed for your make of car.
- Check your oil regularly, particularly if your car is older. Your engine is not as efficient if the oil levels are low.
- Use the right octane gas for your car. Unless the manufacturer recommends it, high-test won’t make your car run better. Save a little money with a lower octane.
2. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Align and rotate them as needed
- Check the tire pressure once a month.
- Learn to use a tire gauge and know what your tire pressure should be. If it’s not listed on the inside driver’s doorjam, ask your mechanic or a stop by a tire store and ask.
- Rotate your tires every 7 to 10,000 miles for even wear.
- Align the wheels when you rotate the tires for even wear.
3. Consolidate errands and know when the car uses the most gas
- Starting up a cold engine uses more gas than running a warm engine, so plan your errands sensibly.
- Try not to retrace your steps; pick routes with the fewest hills and best paving.
- Don’t let your engine idle, if possible. Your car uses more gas when it idles than when you start it up. When you’re stuck in traffic, you can’t help but idle. When you leave your car idling in a driveway or parking lot, you are wasting gas!
- Modern cars don’t need to warm up, even in cold weather. Don’t run them unless you are about to drive them.
- Abide by the three-car rule, if you can. If more than 3 cars are in front of you at the drive-through window, park the car and walk inside.
4. Maintain even speeds on the highways
- Drive at 55 mph. This speed limit was imposed during the oil crisis in the 1970s and while it seems slow to us now, it does save gas.
- Even speeds are best for even fuel consumption.
- Try not to accelerate or brake too quickly. Slow, even pressure is most efficient.
- Use overdrive and cruise control on highways, if your car is equipped with them.
5. Remove unnecessary baggage from the trunk
- Don’t use your car as a storage facility. Even 100 extra pounds decreases fuel efficiency by 1 to 2 percent.
- Stow luggage in the trunk rather than on the roof rack to reduce drag, whenever possible. This can cut your gas consumption by as much as 10 percent.
- Clean mud off the bottom of car, which can add considerable weight.
6. Use the air conditioner wisely
- Open your windows when driving around town
- Use the a/c on highways. Open windows cause drag at high speeds.
- Use a sunshade in the hot weather to keep the car cool so that you are not tempted to crank up the a/c!
7. Carpool or use public transportation whenever you can. Use common sense.
- Share rides when you can, whether to work, meetings, or restaurants.
- Shop for the lowest gas prices. Search the Internet for sites that list low gas prices in your area.
- If you have more than one car, use the most fuel efficient for commuting and long car trips.
- Consider a smaller car or a hybrid next time you buy or lease a car.