- Author: Patti C. Wooten Swanson
- Contributor: Morgan Carne
How often do you sit at a long traffic light and fume over the cost of the gas that you’re wasting while idling? Or, complain about the high cost of gas as you fill the tank at service station outside the national park for what seems like the 100th time on a family vacation?
1. Drive intelligently
This means no speeding, rapid acceleration or abrupt braking. “Intelligent” drivers increase their mileage 33% at highway speeds and 5% when running errands around town. That’s equivalent to saving $0.19-$1.24 per gallon*.
2. Follow the speed limit
Follow the posted speed limits to increase your gas mileage by 7-14%. Each five mph you creep up over the speed limit decreases your mileage, costing the equivalent of paying $0.26-$0.53 more per gallon to drive your car.
3. Get rid of excess weight
Take those extra garden tools or golf clubs out of your trunk to increase your MPG by 2% for every 100 pounds you remove. What’s more, the lighter your car is, the more excess weight affects it, stealing away any chances of saving the equivalent of $0.04-$0.08 per gallon.
4. Idle less
Simply reducing the amount of time you spend sitting at traffic lights, or running your car while parked, gives you a fuel cost savings of $0.01-$0.03 per minute with the AC off, and $0.02-$0.04 per minute with the AC on. This may not seem like much, but it adds up quickly, with only one hour of idling wasting a quarter to a half-gallon of gas.
5. Use cruise control and overdrive gears
Cruise control keeps you driving at a constant speed, often keeping you from going over 60 mph, which drastically reduces gas mileage. Overdrive gears reduce your engine speed, which saves gas as well.
6. Turn off the AC
According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can save gas by turning the AC off when it isn’t needed. Turn it off when you drive up inclines or hills to reduce the strain on your engine, or while you wait for a traffic light. You can also switch your AC to “economy,” “maximum” or “recirculation” settings to get some savings.
7. Eliminate the warm-up
Unless you drive a 1954 Fairlane, you don’t need to warm up your engine. Modern engines warm up as they run. You’ll save gas (and time) by driving as soon as your car starts.
*Estimated savings based on $3.75 per gallon on gas.