Driving Tips to Save Gas Money

Save Money On Gas 2

Save Money On Gas 2 (Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com)

Strategies to help extend the mileage you get from a full tank.

In the last two years, average U.S. gas prices have risen from just over $3 per gallon to about $3.60, according to GasBuddy.com.1 That’s a lot to shell out for driving, so many Americans are looking to save any way they can. Here are some fuel-friendly practices that can help your tank last a little longer.

Ease up. Aggressive driving won’t just cost you in possible traffic fines and insurance points—it’s also a waste of gas. In fact, rapid acceleration and braking lowers mileage by 33 percent on highways and 5 percent on city streets, according to Bernie Candelaria, education manager at Universal Technical Institute-Avondale, an automotive training school. “A smoother-driving, less aggressive style will often pay dividends, even in a high-performance car,” he says. “Accelerating slowly can save 10 times as much fuel as a jack-rabbit start.”

Optimal aerodynamics. Avoid wind drag (the force of wind or air resistance in the opposite direction of which you’re driving) in hot weather by rolling up the windows, allowing air particles to seamlessly move over and around the surface of the car. Use the air conditioner or, better yet, the venting system.

Cruising for miles. If you’re going to drive at the same rate of speed on a highway for an extended period, it’s always best to use cruise control. “Maintain speed at 60 mph on the highway, assuming conditions and the posted speed limit allow,” Candelaria says. “Every 5 mph you go over 60 is the equivalent of paying 30 cents more per gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.”2

Less idle time. Keeping the engine on while a family member or friend runs an errand is one of the surest ways to waste fuel. “You may not realize it, but your engine will generally use more fuel idling than in normal driving situations,” Candelaria says.

Remove any junk in the trunk. Don’t use your car like it’s a cargo vehicle or storage facility on wheels. “Any unnecessary weight will require more gas,” Candelaria says.

Keeping the pressure on. The Department of Energy also estimates that keeping tires properly inflated improves mileage performance by up to 3 percent. That can amount to more than 10 cents per gallon.3 “The more pressure in the tire, the easier it is to roll, which results in less friction,” Candelaria explains. However, you should never over-inflate tires, which is considered unsafe. Read our article about keeping your tires properly inflated.

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