How To Save Gas - 33 Tips
Tips that sort of work, sometimes
17. 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.
Detonation occurs only on full or almost full throttle, so you may be safe using lower grade gasoline in this case if you are conservative with your acceleration habits. It all depends on your driving style and how your car's computer handles the changes. It might be worth giving it a try.
18. Do you need to do a tune-up?
Maybe not. You will never recover the cost of a tune-up in fuel savings. However, you should do regular maintenance, not only for gas saving, but also for performance and reliability. Don't go to a garage and buy a tune-up, 10,000 miles before you need it because you think it will help your mileage... it doesn't work that way, sorry.
19. Do you need to switch to synthetic oil?
Maybe. 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, and its gas saving effect is nowhere near a trade off for its price.
However, if you are already considering a switch to synthetic oil for any other reason, you can surely also count on some gas savings as well.
20. 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.
Another thing to consider is the outside temperature. If you are in Arizona in the middle of the summer, by all means leave the a/c working. The pennies you could possibly save are definitely not worth the hassle in such a case.
21. 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 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.
22. 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 and let the car 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.
23. Should you fill your tank at the coolest time of day?
May be. 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. However, when tanks are below the ground as it is currently done on most gas stations, the difference in temperatures is often marginal.
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 Alaska, and the temperature is -20F *inside* your car, by all means let it warm up before you drive.
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 or your GPS device instead of driving to every gas station around. Mapquest recently started "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 and add a bottle of cleaner to every tank of fuel.
Do that and you pay more for the cleaner than you can possibly save on fuel, and you are cleaning something that is not dirty enough to require cleaning in the first place. A reasonable mileage interval probably is 10,000 to 15,000 for injector additives.
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.
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