If you’re like me, you tend to drive your car until the fuel light goes on, thinking if you wait just another day, the cost for a gallon of gas will tick a few cents lower. Plus, and I get razzed for this quite a bit, you also may schedule errands around that gas station five miles further from the station down the street because it’s five cents cheaper which saves you a whopping 50 cents for 10 gallons.
The reality is, gas is expensive and for most of us, if we want to get to work, go to the store or take a trip to the coast this weekend, we need gas for our cars. But in the everyday hustle and bustle, we may tend to forget that there are some pretty easy and simple steps that teach you how to save money on gas, increase your miles per gallon and keep us from that inevitable trip to gas up maybe a day longer.
Consumer Reports recently provided some common reminders, as well as what may be some new ideas, (I know I learned a thing or two) to help reduce our gas consumption and save some dollars at the pump.
How to Save Money on Gas
Create a Plan
The first thing you should do if you’re interested in how to save money on gas, especially for that long trip to the coast, is to map out your plans. Use a GPS or online mapping program like Bing or Yahoo to find the most efficient route to where you are going. Next, check your tires. Underinflated tires use more energy to roll across the road which means more gas. Check your car’s owner’s manual to see what the optimum tire pressure is.
And finally, make sure your car is fit for the road. The Environmental Protection Agency states that fixing a car that needs a tune up or has failed an emissions test can improve gas mileage by 4 percent. A faulty oxygen sensor can reduce fuel economy by 40 percent and using the wrong grade of oil can knock another 1 to 2 percent off your MPG.Now that you’re on the road,
Do Your Research
Consumer Reports says to, in fact, compare prices! (I guess I was right.) Some GPS and smart-phone applications allow you to compare local gas station prices. Gas prices are often lower at big-box stores, and supermarkets may reduce the cost per gallon if you also shop there for groceries. Independent stations are often lower too, using the same gas as the brand names, but without the additives.
Slow and Steady Saves You Gas
Next, watch your speed. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but the faster you go, the less MPG you’ll get. A Consumer Reports test on a Toyota Camry saw a 5 MPG drop when the cruising speed was increased from 55 to 65. Driving at 75 can knock off an additional 5 MPG. In addition to speed, drive smoothly and try and avoid hard acceleration and lots of breaking or expect to knock another 2 to 3 MPG from your trip. And if you can avoid it, refrain from carrying things on your roof as it adds cuts into the aerodynamic flow of your vehicle
Consumer Reports also suggests to forget about premium fuel since the higher cost gas won’t make your engine run any better. Even cars that are designed to use premium fuel can get by using regular but the magazine says to check with your mechanic first. And finally, there are some gadgets out there that promise to help save gas, but Consumer Reports has yet to find one that provides a significant difference.