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A Dozen Tips on “How to Save Big on Gas!”

The easiest way to save money on gas is to use less of it… so here are a dozen common sense ideas to help you use less gas.

  1. Avoid Sudden Stops— Racing up to a stop light uses gas right to the last second then wastes all that stored energy burning up your brakes. Coast up to the stop light and you will save gas (and your brakes).
  2. Don’t Stomp on the gas— Do you “Burn Rubber” when the light turns green? “Burning rubber” not only ruins your tires it also wastes gas. Accelerate slowly when the light turns green. Since you are coasting to a stop anyway so just try not to come to a complete stop. Plan ahead so you reach the light by slowing down gradually and then you are able to gradually start without coming to a complete stop. It takes more gas to start from a dead stop than from a rolling stop. And you actually get going faster without “putting the pedal to the metal.” Driving less aggressively WILL save you money.  Rapid acceleration and braking burns more fuel and is harder on your vehicle. 
  3. Use cruise control— Cruise control gradually increases and decreases the gas to compensate for hills etc. Every minor twitch of your gas pedal foot shoots unnecessary gas into the engine so using cruise control eliminates the surges and is the most efficient for gas mileage.
  4. Keep Tires at the Correct Pressure— Driving on soft tires increases the friction and can cost you 10% or more in lost gas.  Check your owners manual to find the correct pressure and then check tire pressure once a month.
  5. Shut it off— Some people worry that starting it up again will waste more than you save so follow the two minute rule, “Don’t leave your car idling for more than 2 minutes”. If you are going to idle for a few seconds (like at a traffic light) don’t shut it off but if it is idling for more than a minute or two it will save gas to shut it off.
  6. Don’t race your engine—This one seems obvious but that “Vroom Vroom” sound wastes a lot of gas.
  7. Carpool— If you and a neighbor share a ride to work you have reduced your gas consumption by 50% if three of you take turns, you have reduced consumption by 66%. Mass transit can save even more.
  8. Get a Tune-Up— An out of tune car can use 10-20% more gas than a properly tuned car. So a simple tune-up can give you one dollar’s worth of more gas for every ten you spend to fill your tank.
  9. Using A/C burns extra Gas— Cooling down a car that was sitting in the sun uses extra gas. A car in the sun can be 120° while the outside temperature is “only” 90°.  You can cool it down to 90° by opening windows and doors and then, driving for a minute or two with the windows open before turning on the A/C. Also parking in the shade can keep the car cooler so the A/C doesn’t have to work as hard.
  10. Buy the right Grade of Gas— Most people think that “high test” gas has more energy in it or that it somehow burns better. Although it sounds counter-intuitive higher octane gas actually is less “explosive” and burns slower.On some cars it results in better gas mileage but it requires careful calculations to determine whether it saves you money or not. Suppose you normally get 30 mpg on regular octane gas. Then suppose you get 31 mpg on high octane gas. On a 20 gallon tank of gas you would get an extra 20 miles. 20 miles extra would save you 2/3 of a gallon of gas. So if “High-Test” costs 30¢ more per gallon it would cost you an extra $6.00 (30¢ x 20 gal) to save 2/3 gal or about $2.00.  On the other hand if it only costs you 10¢ more and gives you 2 MPG  more the equation would work out as follows:Forty extra miles, for $2 more. Forty miles would be 1 1/3 gallons or about $4.00 savings. Spending $2 to save $4.00 is a good deal. So in order to figure out if using “high test” is cheaper, you need to know how much better mileage you get and how much more a gallon costs. Most cars are designed to use “Regular” so you will probably save more by using it but you can do the calculations and see if higher octane gas helps.Some cars need higher octane gas to run properly, have one that runs rough if I put cheaper gas in it.  Check your owners manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.
  11.  Do you know how to tell if gas is “cheap” or expensive? Just find out if the cars are getting bigger or smaller year after year. Over the last 10 years gas has been cheap because cars have gotten bigger and use more gas (look at all the vans and SUVs on the road today).When gas is expensive people switch to smaller cars (people don’t rush out and buy a new one overnight just to save on gas) but when people get a new car they tend to look for ones with better mileage if they feel gas is taking too big a bite out of their paycheck.By switching to hybrids and more efficient cars you can easily increase mileage by 10-20 miles per gallon or more. 10 MPG would mean that a car with a 20 gallon tank would go 200 miles more on every tank full. 20 MPG could mean an extra 400 miles in every tank!
  12. Don’t Top Off the Tank— Some gas stations in conservation conscious states (like California) have “recirculation” pumps. These pumps are designed to capture gas fumes and recycle them to the station’s tanks (not yours). If you top off your tank you can be just pumping it back to the station. In other states, “topping off” can result in your spilling gas. Even if you are careful and “only fill the tank to the top” you can waste gas without even knowing it. Because gas from the stations underground tank is cool, as it warms up in your gas tank it expands, so you need extra empty space in your tank to hold the expanding gas. If you fill your tank right up to the top, as the gas expands it can spill out the top (after you drive away) and you won’t even know that you are spilling gas as you drive.

Here are three more MONEY SAVING tips- Although they won’t reduce your gas consumption they can save you some more money on Gas:

  1. Fill up in the Morning— Instead of letting the expanding gas get wasted why not take advantage of it? Just fill up your tank in the morning, when the gas is cooler than normal and you will get more than if you buy it when it is warmer. Just remember tip number 12 and don’t over fill.
  2. NO-Name Gas Stations—  Try local non-brand name gas stations, they use the exact same gas as the brand names.  Gasoline has to follow production guidelines and comes from a limited number of refineries. You can save a dollar or two on every tank full. Occasionally, discount stations will sell old gas or even add water to the gas. But it isn’t common. If a station’s gas makes your car run badly it will waste more gas and money than it saves so avoid that station… but in general gas is gas.
  3. Buy Right and Save 5% on Gas. Some cards offer discounts of 5% on Gas and other purchases. Others offer cash back (which is pretty much like a discount) If you are going to buy it anyway you might as well save 5% or more!


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About Tim McMahon

Work by editor and author, Tim McMahon, has been featured in Bloomberg, CBS News, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Washington Post, Drudge Report, The Atlantic, Business Insider, American Thinker, Lew Rockwell, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Oakland Press, Free Republic, Education World, Realty Trac, Reason, Coin News, and Council for Economic Education. Connect with Tim on Google+