Thursday, May 29, 2008

10 Smart Moves to Save on Gas

I read this article (I would link to the site but it's my bank and obviously I don't need to be making things that easy for any malicious wrong doer) and I thought it would only be fair to share. We have two big vehicles and when we bought them (to fit our family of 6) gas prices were around $1.30-$1.50 per gallon. Needless to say, things have changed a little but our cars are both paid off and still fit the entire family in one vehicle, besides, we really don't have the means to go out and buy new cars, as much as we may want to. So besides driving less, combining store trips and appointments, here are the tips I found useful and practical. If you have some of your own, please share.


Gas prices hit record highs in April and, at $3.50 or more per gallon, you may be tempted to trade your car in for a scooter — or resort to pedaling your way to work.

Before you make any drastic financial and lifestyle sacrifice, consider these tips from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and gasbuddy.com: Looking for cheap gas? Check out gasbuddy.com or gaspricewatch.com to find the best prices in your area.

1. Slow down.
No matter what kind of car or truck you drive, gas mileage drops dramatically at speeds over 60 mph. As a general rule, every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an extra 20 cents per gallon of gas.

2. Be gentle.
Avoid jack-rabbit starts and sudden stops, which can lower your gas mileage by 33% on the highway and by 5% around town, according to the Energy Department.

3. Lighten your load.
Try not to keep unnecessary items in your car, especially heavy ones. Each 100 pounds of extra weight can reduce fuel efficiency by 1% to 2%.

4. Scout out cheap gas.
Gasbuddy.com recommends avoiding gas stations in affluent areas and near major freeway exits. In major metropolitan areas, outlying suburbs tend to have the lowest gas prices, according to the web site. If you're not in a hurry when you're traveling, gasbuddy.com suggests driving a few blocks from the freeway exit to find cheaper gas prices. But look out for service stations with on-site auto repair shops. Gasbuddy.com reports they often charge more for gas.

5. Skip traditional gas stations.
Check out wholesale clubs, grocery stores or department stores with gas stations on site. Gasbuddy.com says these businesses often sell gas at discounted prices to entice people into their stores and may offer credit for in-store purchases when you fill up with gas.

6. Keep your car in shape.
Worn spark plugs, low transmission fluid and dragging brakes can suck your gas tank dry. Check your owner's manual for recommended maintenance schedules and get regular engine tuneups. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%.

7. Avoid idling.
A gas-powered car at idle gets zero miles per gallon. If you're not in traffic, but expect to wait longer than one minute, consider turning off your vehicle. Idling burns more gas than restarting the engine. Also, look into hybrid cars which can run on battery power when idling.

8. Don't neglect your tires.
Keep your tires properly inflated and make sure you have them aligned periodically. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Plus, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

9. Purify the air.
Replacing dirty air filters can increase gas mileage by up to 10% while also keeping impurities from damaging your car's engine.

10. Choose the right oil.
All oils are not created equal — and that's especially true when it comes to engine oil. Using only the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil cited in your owner's manual can improve your fuel efficiency by 1% to 2%.

#7 would have to be my biggest pet peeve. I know there are times when you have to idle, like when the baby is in the car and it's 100 degrees or minus zero, etc. But there are times when idling is completely unnecessary. I see it a lot while parents are waiting for their kids at school at the bus stop, they'll Idle for 10-15 minutes at a time. Crazy!!