Practical driving tips to save you money at the pumps

Gas Prices
Gas Prices | Source

What are the most effective ways to save gas while driving? asked by brittanytodd

On the Road Again

As an independent contractor for over 10 years, it seemed I was always on the road. On average I spent four or five hours a day driving; it was nothing for me to spend a grand a week just on gas or diesel fuel depending on which truck I was driving. Knowing that all the gas I spent was coming out of potential profits, I was constantly aware of my driving habits, and always on the look out for ways to increase my miles per gallon. Over the years I learned many tricks that ultimately helped improve my vehicle’s efficiency on the road, and put a few more dollars in my pocket. These are my practical driving tips that if followed will save you money at the pumps.

Planning

Probably the most important was planning; mapping out where I was going and the best way to get there. The best way wasn’t always the shortest. There were many destinations that I learned had routes that were a bit longer than other possibilities, but involved fewer stops. If the rout was a mile and a half longer, but I spent far less time stopping and going, the longer route was always the cheaper of the two. In most cases the longer way was not only the most efficient, but also a few minutes quicker, due to not waiting at stop lights and signs. Keep in mind that an average vehicle uses the same amount of gas taking off as it would during an eighth to a quarter of a mile driving at a constant rate of speed. So, fewer stops usually equal fewer dollars spent.

The Old Ford
The Old Ford | Source
The Gauge
The Gauge | Source

Acceleration

There are some other methods I used regularly to improve my chances of making a profit. For one, taking off a bit slower each time you stop rather than gunning the gas to break out ahead of the crowd; uses quite a bit less gas over the course of the day. Many times I would pass by the other drivers who seemingly left me in the dust at the previous stop light, so it really doesn’t cost you any time. The trick is to accelerate slowly but steadily until you reach the speed limit, or there about. Speaking of stop lights, if you time things right you can often times avoid stopping at many lights altogether. For example, if I’m driving along and I notice the light up ahead a ways has just turned yellow, I let off of the gas and coast; sometimes I even hit my brake. If I time it right, I can slowly approach the light and it will turn green before I get to it allowing me to avoid stopping. I use this trick all the time when I’m on my bike, not really to save gas, but more to avoid stopping. I have had people honk and yell obscenities at me for doing this, but if you do it all the time it will save you a sizeable amount of gas in the long run. Remember that most vehicles get their best mileage at around 60 to 65 miles per hour, so slowing down a bit on the interstate can save you some gas as well.

Cruise Control

If you have cruise control it is a great convenience, but there is a right and wrong time to use it. Of course, you wouldn’t use it in town or where there are multiple stops with-in a short stretch of road, but what about the highway or interstate? Well, if the land is generally flat and the road ahead is open, great turn on that cruise control it is convenient and it will save a bit of gas, but if the land is hilly it is better to leave it off and use the pedal. If you notice, cruise controls tend to lunge when faced with a steep incline, which contradicts my second point of slow steady acceleration.

Manual Transmission
Manual Transmission | Source

Transmissions

If your vehicle has an automatic transmission with overdrive, you should always drive in overdrive, unless there is a reason not to. One such reason would be that you are hauling a heavy load, or a trailer. Another might be that you are on a steep incline. In either case it is best to put your vehicle in drive rather than overdrive. There may even be times that you may drop into lower gears if you notice that the engine is struggling to pull the load. If you have a manual transmission, you should train your self to drive it properly. I always hear about manual transmissions being gas savers, but the fact is that many people don’t drive them properly and end up using more gas than they would have in an automatic. I hear people drive by the house all the time, winding out their engines before shifting the gears, I assure you that if they do this regularly they are using far more gas than they could be. You should only wind the engine as far as necessary to move to the next gear with out bogging down the engine. You should also make the shifts between gears as smooth and fast as possible to get the best miles per gallon possible. Another idea is to never down shift, when you hear the engine roar as you down shift you are using more gas than necessary. Use you brakes instead, it saves gas and brakes are much easier to change than a clutch; and trust me down shifting has an extreme negative impact on your clutch, transmission, and engine.

Gas Stations

Another observation I made during my many travels is that all gas stations are not created equal. From one gas station to the next there is sometimes a difference in the miles per gallon that I would get. I would avoid those stations that have lower quality gas regardless of the cost, unless the price is at a point that would more than make up the difference. Even then I might be leery, because low grade gas can affect an engine even after it is used up. One more idea is to keep your tank at least above a quarter tank, because the gas is what keeps your fuel pump cool and working properly.

Maintenance

Last but not least, proper maintenance of your vehicle is of the upmost importance if you are to get the best miles per gallon possible. Performing tune-ups regularly; checking all the fluids, checking grease fittings, changing filters, and maintaining proper tire pressure are all important factors of getting the most miles for your money. Not only will all of these tips save you money at the pump; they will also add years to the life of your vehicle. I hope these tips will help you to get the most out of your vehicle, and help you save a buck or two at the gas pumps. Drive safe and have a great day.

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12 comments

brittanytodd profile image

brittanytodd 4 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Thank you so much for answering my question in such detail! This is an excellent hub and it will be so helpful to those who are wondering the same thing as me--how to save money on gas. Great work, voted up, shared, etc.!


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 4 years ago

Dear Dmop ~ Very good tips on better gas mileage. I was surprised to learn that each gas station may have varying quality gas which may affect mileage. Although sometimes in years past have had gas with water which makes everything sputter. Accelerating gently and slowly always a good idea. Blessings, Debby


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

dmop, excellent practical tips helpful to anyone who wants to save money on gas. Incidentally I feel we all ought to. Nature's reserves are not going to last us forever and this we owe to the future generations.

Voted up and useful.


HawaiiHeart profile image

HawaiiHeart 4 years ago from Hawaii

Great tips! I think proper maintenance is very important. We probably have some of the highest gas prices in the nation.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

brittanytodd, I'm glad you asked the question, it gave me something worthwhile to write about. Thanks for the comments and have a great day.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

Debby Bruck, there are still some differences between some stations, at least there was in the area I worked in a few years ago. I am adding a note that keeping your tank above a quarter tank will prolong the life of your fuel pump and possibly save you some gas over the life of the vehicle. Thanks for reading and commenting, have a great day.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

rajan jolly, I couldn't agree more, not only should we be concerned with the price of gas, but also our consumption of it. The less we use the more there will be left and the smaller our impact on the environment will be. Thanks for reading and commenting; have a fantastic day.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

HawaiiHeart, thanks for taking a moment to read and comment, it is greatly appreciated. I agree that maintenance is very important, and I think most people already know it. What they may not realize is how much their driving habits affect their gas mileage. Have a great day and drive wise.


Robert Erich profile image

Robert Erich 4 years ago from California

This are some great tips. I know that I realized I would get less mileage when I used ethanol, but I didn't realize that simply going to a different gas station could effect your distance on a single tank.

Thanks for the tips! Voted up and shared.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

Robert thanks for reading my work, and for your comment. I kept meticulous records of everything I thought might save me a few bucks. Gas being my greatest expense, I kept records of my mpg and driving habits and even the station and grade of gas I used. I read in another hub that the grade makes no difference, but that is not correct. Higher grade gas does give you more miles per gallon, but not enough to equal the price difference. Thanks again, and have a great day.


Mommiegee profile image

Mommiegee 4 years ago from Alabama

I live out in the country and have to drive 20-30 minutes for kids appointments and department stores. These tips are very useful and this was very well written. I couldn't find a vote up button but I did share on my facebook profile if you don't mind.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

Mommiegee, Thanks for stopping by and reading my Hub, I'm glad you found it useful. I appreciate your sharing it, and don't mind at all. Thanks again and have a terrific day.

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