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Is your old clunker consuming gas way faster than it used to? Or do you drive a car that always had bad mileage?
We have good news: you still have a chance to shrink your gas bill. 10 chances, actually.
Use these 10 tips to reduce fuel consumption and you’ll save money by going green.
Plan Your Route
Before you drive, plan ahead. Consider when to drive and when not to and pick the most gas-efficient routes.
Combining multiple errands into one trip will reduce unnecessary trips and conserve gas. Also, if the trip isn’t very far, consider getting some exercise and walk or bike to your destination.
When choosing a route, pick the one with the fewest stop signs. Avoiding stop signs will save more gas than choosing a slightly shorter route.
And avoid bumpy roads. They cause your car to work harder and burn gas faster.
Choose the Cheapest Gas
Find out who has the cheapest gas in town and always fill up there. Don’t wait till your fuel light comes on to get gas. If you do, you may end up having to stop at a closer, more expensive gas station.
You can use apps like GasBuddy or Fuel Finder to find cheap gas in town or along your route.
This is especially helpful for avoiding expensive highway gas on long trips through unfamiliar territory.
And it’s not only where you buy gas that matters but also when you buy. A 2017 study of 3 years of data found that gas is cheaper on Monday that it is any other day of the week.
On average, the cheapest days to buy gas are Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday, while Thursday and Saturday are the most expensive. This can vary by location, though, so keep an eye on the gas prices in your town and complete your own study!
Time of day also affects the price of gas, in a manner of speaking. When gas gets warm, it becomes less dense. So if you fill up on warm gas, you are actually getting less gas for your dollar.
Like the weather, gas is coldest in the early morning hours, before or just after the sunrise. Choose colder times of day to fill up on gas.
Lighten Your Load
The heavier your car is, the more gas it burns. If you have a bunch of extra stuff you keep leaving in your trunk or truck bed, you’re using more gas. Don’t leave your fishing gear in your car all week, keep it in the garage until you need it.
Also, leaving skis, bikes or other equipment on the roof will not only make the car heavier but increase drag (wind resistance). Drag makes your car less aerodynamic so the engine has to work harder.
Braking excessively means you are speeding up and slowing down more often. This is doubly inefficient for your vehicle. Speeding up uses more energy than coasting, and braking more than you need wastes the energy you already spent getting the car up to speed.
Avoid excessive braking by slowing down earlier, coasting to a stop before you brake. If there are drivers behind you, it’s polite to use applicable turn signals and give a quick tap on your brakes. This lets them see your brake lights so they know you’re slowing but won’t waste gas with excessive braking.
Keep a safe distance of 3 seconds behind other vehicles on the road. Not only is this safer, but it gives you more time to coast to a stop. It may even give the car in front enough time to turn out of your way so you won’t have to brake at all!
Choose a More Efficient Vehicle
If you have the option, choose to drive a manual car instead of an automatic. Manual cars are more gas-efficient and even let you choose how efficiently the engine works. When driving stick, shifting up early and shifting down late is the most fuel-efficient way to drive.
If you can drive a smaller car instead of a truck or SUV, this will also reduce fuel consumption.
Use Cruise Control
When driving an automatic, you can still reduce fuel consumption by using cruise control. Keeping a consistent speed uses less gas than a lot of speeding and slowing.
But be careful. Cruise control is less efficient on roads with hills and is unsafe to use in heavy traffic.
Keep Tires Full
Maintain proper tire pressure at all times. Low tire pressure increases friction, which decreases fuel efficiency. It also wears tires out faster.
Tire pressure is affected by temperature. When the weather gets suddenly colder, tire pressure goes down. Pressure is easy to check at tire-filling stations or with a cheap tire gauge from the dollar store.
Winter tires also increase friction. Be sure to change them for the warmer season.
The AC Vs Windows Debate
Air conditioning eats gas like crazy. But opening your windows causes drag. So how do you cool your car in the dog days of summer without wasting gas?
A study by General Motors and SAE has finally put an end to this debate. Rolling down your windows is now officially proven to be more gas-efficient than air conditioning. But extreme heat is dangerous to your health so of course, use air conditioning when you need to.
Keep Your Car Healthy
An unhealthy car is an inefficient car. Keep your car properly serviced and maintained.
Obey your user’s manual; if you can’t find it, look it up online. Always use the right oil and gas for your car. Get your car serviced when service is due.
Change oil and air filters regularly. Filters are cheap to replace when you get your oil changed.
But it’s usually really easy to change filters yourself, which makes it even cheaper.
Keep your engine tuned and check for corroded battery cables and spark plugs that need replacing. Check to see if your gas cap seal is worn out. Failure to maintain any of these things will reduce fuel-efficiency.
It may cost a lot for BMW service, but it’s less than you’ll spend on gas if you don’t keep your car maintained.
Whether you are waiting for someone or even stopped at a railroad crossing, never let your engine idle if you can help it. If you’re going to be stopped for more than 1 minute, turn your engine off.
Putting your car in neutral at stop lights can reduce fuel consumption and put less wear on manual transmissions. But this can be tricky. If you forget your car is in neutral and rev up the engine when the light turns green, you’ll waste all the energy you just saved.
Also, don’t take too long warming up your car. Modern cars only take about 30 seconds to warm up. Anything longer than that is a waste of gas.
Reduce Fuel Consumption, Save the World
Conserving gas doesn’t just save you money, it keeps the planet alive. Use these tips to do your part for planet Earth.
For more about going green, check out World Leaders Work Out Climate Change Agreements and Green Groups Oppose Corn-Based Ethanol Subsidies.