28 Ways to Save Gas

by Kim Garretson

1. Lighten the load. Remove excess luggage from the trunk. Fill the gasoline tank only halfway for city driving. Promptly remove caked-on snow and ice. If you must haul a heavy load, distribute it between the trunk and the car; to much weight in the trunk and the car; too much weight in the trunk can lift the front end, increasing the carís wind resistance.

2. Donít clutter the exterior. Remove ski and luggage racks when theyíre not needed. And take off snow tires as soon as winter is over.

3. Keep the car in shape. At regular intervals, check the tire inflation, brake adjustment front-end alignment, oil and filter, and the general condition of the car. Get a tune-up when itís needed.

4. Run the air-conditioner on the highway, but not on city streets. In hot weather at highway speeds, the wind drag caused by rolled-down windows cuts the mileage more than running the air conditioner does.

5. Keep the heater blower off. With the temperature set to hot, the vents will force heated air through the car. If you use the blower to warm up the car, set it on low.

6. Press the accelerator only lightly to start a warm engine. You can give a cold engine more gas, but avoid pumping the pedal.

7. Donít let the engine run to warm it on cold mornings. After about 30 seconds, start driving slowly (gas consumption is highest for the first mile or two).

8. If the engine floods, donít keep pumping the accelerator. Press it to the floor and crank the engine a few seconds, then turn it off and wait a few minutes before trying again.

9. Avoid jackrabbit starts and sudden hard braking at stop signs and traffic signals.

10. Group short errands into longer trips. The carís mileage can drop by as much as 70% on short trips because the car doesnít have time to warm up to itís full efficiency.

11. Cut out unnecessary delays. It takes six times more fuel to reach cruising speed after a car has stopped than while itís still in motion, even when itís creeping. But donít creep through stop signs.

12. If you have a choice in parking lots, choose a spot that you donít have to back out of over one that you do. Backing is a gas guzzler.

13. Donít rev the engine before turning it off. That leaves raw gasoline in the cylinders, dilutes the oil and increases friction.

14. Put your car in the garage for the night as soon as you get home; starting the car later to put it away wastes gas. And keep your car in the garage both winter and summer to save fuel on starting.

15. Slow down before cornering, and accelerate only when the front wheels are straight again.

16. Take turns smoothly, not sharply. Hard turning wastes fuel and diverts excess energy to the power steering pump.

17. Donít follow other vehicles too closely. While itís true that following a big truck closely does cut the wind resistance on your car, youíre in peril if the truck must stop suddenly. Keeping a distance between your car and others is safer and allows you to practice economy techniquesĖsteady speed, smooth acceleration, etc.

18. Choose paved highways instead of gravel roads whenever you can; youíll increase mileage by about 35 percent.

19. Shift through the gears quickly. With automatic transmission, ease up on the accelerator slightly each time the transmission shifts to a higher gear. With manual transmission, skip a gear or two when you can; for instance, start out in second gear on downgrades.

20. Shift an automatic transmission to neutral when youíre waiting at long traffic lights.

21. Donít use the passing gear of an automatic transmission (activated by pressing the accelerator to the floor) unless youíre in a tight spot.

22. Donít downshift a manual transmission to reduce speed. Downshifting increases engine RPMís and cuts mileage. Instead, coast to stops with your foot off the gas.

23. If thereís a fifth gear on your manual transmission, use the gear whenever you can, not just for highway cruising.

24. Donít accelerate rapidly, passing your cruising speed and then letting off the accelerator to fall back to speed. Accelerate smoothly to just under the desired speed, ease off to a steady pressure to maintain speed, then increase the pressure slightly to come up to speed.

25. Maintain a steady speed on level roadways. Pretend thereís an egg between your foot and the accelerator. Use your cruise control on level roads, but shut it off in hilly terrain so you can accelerate and decelerate more smoothly and efficiently.

26. Donít rest your foot on the brake or clutch pedal while cruising; even slight pressure can make the engine work harder.

27. Cruise down hills with your foot off the gas, but not in neutral or with the key turned off, which is both dangerous and illegal.

28. Keep your speed at the limit in 35- and 45-mph zones; driving below 30 miles per hour wastes fuel.