Driving is expensive, with the vehicle price, insurance costs and ongoing fill-ups. With more than 200 million vehicles on the road, according to the United States Department of Transportation, Americans spend a lot to get around.
Gas is one of the most consistent costs, so here are five unique gas saving tips to save you money.
Hone your driving technique
Saving gas is as simple as changing a few habits to eliminate aggressive driving.
“Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.”
Even if you don’t consider yourself an aggressive driver, you can take your foot off the gas pedal when, for example, approaching a red light. Instead of zooming toward a stop, calmly roll toward the intersection. Often, the light will change before you stop, so you don’t have to accelerate as much to regain speed.
Additionally, use cruise control on long stretches of road to avoid inconsistent speed, which leads to wasted gas. Knowing you’re at a comfortable speed may also encourage you to let others pass, instead of employing the aggressive tactic of speeding up when another car tries to overtake you.
Use the right octane
Doing this means using an inexpensive octane for many vehicles. Manufacturers design engines to work with a certain octane, information you can find in your owner’s manual or online.
“Octane rating is a measure of a fuel's ability to resist ‘knock,’” according to exxon.com. “The octane requirement of an engine varies with compression ratio, geometrical and mechanical considerations and operating conditions. The higher the octane number the greater the fuel’s resistance to knocking or pinging during combustion.”
Experiment with your car’s octane level by keeping a notebook in your car and writing what octane you use and your gas mileage at each fill up, so you can see any differences — remember to differentiate between city and freeway mileage.
You may find, as Consumer Reports did, premium gas “actually translates into paying extra for a higher octane without a performance or fuel economy benefit for many cars. … While some cars require premium gas, many others simply carry a recommendation to use it.”
Care for your tires
If you ignore your tire light, you may be losing more than air — you may be losing money. Properly inflated tires improve gas mileage up to 3 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov. Check for proper tire pressure on a sticker in the door jamb or glove box, as opposed to the maximum pressure listed on the tire.
Thankfully, refilling your tires is easy, as many gas stations offer free or low-cost air pumps. Additionally, the mechanic who installed your tires may fill them for free, as well.
Maintain your car
Paying for maintenance can save you money in the long run. Tuning up or repairing a car can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov. Even a major repair cost has a silver lining.
“Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent,” according to fueleconomy.gov.
If the expense of repairing your car is still causing stress, consider visiting a trustworthy mechanic who offers competitive prices, such as Jensen Tire & Auto.
Gas-saving myths are pervasive, from the age-old one about idling saving gas (it doesn’t) to a dirty air filter hurting gas mileage (not true). For example, if you’re passing by a cheap gas station to get “nicer” gas down the road, you’re wasting time and money.
“All gas stations are tied by tight laws governing the storage and pumping of gasoline, while independent and no-name gas stations usually buy gasoline from the well-known oil companies anyway,” according to Green Car Reports.
Do your research, so tips you use actually save gas. If you hear someone spouting a myth, point them to a reliable source. When in doubt, ask an expert for advice.