How to Save Gas While Driving (and How to Get Better Fuel Mileage)

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With gas prices constantly on the rise, drivers are feeling the squeeze more than ever.

Strangely, most people never think about how to save gas while driving, and they never realize that the way they drive their car massively affects how much gas they use.

There are ways of driving that can reduce the amount of fuel you use and ultimately save you money, and by following the following tips you’ll learn how.

Although these tips are designed to help you get better fuel mileage (and therefore save money on gas) while taking a road trip, most of the tips apply to everyday life, so following them can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Route 66

Mistake #1 – Driving Too Fast

It seems fairly logical that the faster you drive (and the less time your car is on the road), the less gas you’ll use, right?

Wrong! Most cars have an ‘optimum fuel efficiency level’, or a speed at which they’re most efficient, and if you exceed this you’re going to burn a lot more fuel than you need to.

For many cars, this optimum speed is around 60 miles per hour. Using cruise control (if you have it) to stay at this speed is a good idea, and is one of the best ways to increase gas mileage.

In addition to driving too fast, accelerating too rapidly will also burn more gas than is necessary. In essence, you want to try and drive as smoothly as possible.

Mistake #2 – Packing Too Much Luggage

The heavier your car is, the amount of energy (i.e. fuel) needed to move it increases, meaning that a heavier car burns more fuel.

Overloaded carIn fact, it is estimated that carrying an extra 100 pounds of weight in your car will increase the amount of fuel used by 2% (according to www.fueleconomy.gov).

As well as packing items in the trunk/boot of the car, storing luggage on a roof rack (in addition to adding extra weight) will cause the car to become less aerodynamic.

A roof rack full of luggage (such as suitcases and bikes) will increase the car’s wind resistance, meaning that you’ll have to use more fuel to get the car moving.

When taking a road trip, pack only what is necessary and leave the rest at home.

Mistake #3 – Not Looking After Your Vehicle

If you don’t regularly perform maintenance on your vehicle (and its engine), it’s natural that its fuel efficiency will start to decrease over time.

For example, it is estimated that for every 1 PSI your tires drop in pressure, your fuel efficiency will also decrease by 0.3% (according to fueleconomy.gov).

This is why it’s important to change your tires when they are worn and keep your engine’s fluids (such as oil and coolant) topped up, as failing to maintain these things will lower your car’s gas mileage.

Most gas/petrol stations will have an air pump that you can use (usually for free) to top up your tires. The recommended PSI is usually written on the inside of the driver’s side door.

As far as keeping your fluids topped up goes, this is fairly simple (and is something that you should have learnt how to do when learning to drive).

Mistake #4 – Using the Air Conditioner When it isn’t Needed

For years I used to have my air conditioner on all the time while driving without ever really thinking about it. One day a friend told me that by doing so I was decreasing my gas mileage.

But what if you’re too hot and you need some air? When driving at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, it is better to simply open the windows than to use the air conditioner, as you’ll save the engine having to work extra hard to supply cool air.

At higher speeds, however, opening the windows can be a problem (as it’ll get pretty windy inside the car).

Even so, it is recommended that to save fuel you should never us the air conditioner, and that when traveling at high speeds you should use the car’s air vent setting instead.

To reduce the need to cool air, try parking your car in the shade and keeping the doors and windows open for a while before turning the car on.

Mistake #5 – Not Planning a Route to Avoid Traffic

While road trips should be about adventure and spontaneity (to a certain degree), it doesn’t help to do a little planning and to plot a route that will see you avoid traffic whenever possible.

Why is avoiding traffic so important? When you’re stuck in traffic and you’re not moving, you’re wasting fuel. It’s as simple as that (plus, it’s no fun being stuck bumper to bumper and not going anywhere!)

So how can you plan a route that avoids traffic? To do this you need to use Google Maps or a Sat-Nav (like a ‘Garmin’ or a ‘TomTom’) that can tell you where the traffic jams are and which roads to avoid.

Often when planning a route using one of these you’ll be given the option of the ‘shortest route’ or the ‘quickest route’. The latter option is almost always better.


Related posts:

  1. How to Save Money for Your Round the World Trip
  2. Frugal Traveling – Top Ways to Save Money Abroad
  3. Tips for a Successful Road Trip
  4. Cruise Ships, Yachts and Driving – How to Get Paid to Travel (By Working Your Route)




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