How to save money on gas: Real tips and persistent myths
by Laura Northrup, The Consumerist
Yeah, yeah, the best way to save money on gas is to get a more fuel-efficient car. That’s not always an option. What you can do is make some small changes to how you drive in order to maximize your fuel. Our colleagues over at Consumer Reports grabbed some cars and decided to figure out which minor changes to your driving work and which don’t. In? Take the bike rack off your roof. Out? Buying gas early in the morning because the air is cooler and you get more.
- Slow down. Most people don’t like to hear it, and anyone behind them on the highway really doesn’t like to hear it, but you can improve your fuel efficiency by slowing the heck down. 55 MPH gives you optimal fuel efficiency, though in many areas it will also maximize the number of people tailgating you.
- Drive smoothly and consistently. Avoid abrupt accelerations or stops that aren’t necessary – tests showed that speeding up and braking frequently cut the fuel efficiency on a Toyota Camry by a few miles per gallon.
- Take the crap off your roof. Driving around with a bicycle rack loaded up with bikes, testers found that their fuel efficiency went down by 15 miles per gallon. Of course, you don’t always drive around with bikes, but the rack itself reduced gas mileage by 5 MPG. If something creates drag and you don’t always need it, take it off your car. Show everyone how outdoorsy you are with bumper stickers or something instead.
- Warm up your engine. Don’t drive around with a cold engine if you don’t have to. If you’re late for work, fine, but an engine that has warmed up consumes less gas and takes longer to wear out.
As for those myths, here are some things that people often tell each other save gas, but really don’t.
- Under-inflated tires. They’re bad in a lot of other ways: tires wear out faster, run hotter, and make braking and handling harder. Keep your tires inflated, but not to save fuel.
- Change your air filter. Makes sense, and this is still the case with older cars, but most vehicles on the road today have computers that figure out air to fuel ratios for you.
- Get gas in the morning. The theory goes that since the air outside is cooler in the morning, you will get more gasoline to a “gallon” than later in the day, when the temperature rises and the molecules expand, or something. This theory is nonsense. Fuel up whenever you want.
How to save money on gas [Consumer Reports]