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Save Money on Gas and Improve Your Gas Mileage

Updated on November 10, 2017

People like to complain about the price of gasoline, not knowing that there are several things they can do to get better gas mileage that will more than make up for any savings at the pump. Here are some basic recommendations for improving your fuel efficiency and saving yourself money on gasoline by improving your gas mileage.

This car gets bad gas mileage.
This car gets bad gas mileage.

1. Buy a different car - So if you're driving a gigantic car like the Hummer H2 pictured to the right and you're crying about bad gas mileage, you're driving the wrong car. Buy a different car. I'm not criticizing people who own Hummers, but you can't drive one and complain about the mileage. No matter what car you drive, it should be pretty easy to sell it and buy another, comparably priced car that gets better mileage. Inevitably, it'll probably be smaller than the one you're currently in, but with a little research, you can probably purchase a smaller car that's just as safe.

2. Keep your tires inflated to the proper level - Your car will get its optimum gas mileage when its tires are inflated to the proper pressure. If you let your tires drop in pressure or you're one of those people who never bothers to check tire pressure, you're sacrificing precious gas mileage as a result.

3. Drive the speed limit - This mostly applies to highway driving. As you increase your speed over 55mph, your gas mileage goes down. If you want your car to get the best mileage it can get, drive 55mph. Aside from better gas mileage, you'll reduce your chance of speeding tickets.

4. Purchase your gas in the morning - Gas molecules expand, so technically, as the day becomes hotter and you fuel up, you're getting less gas.

This car gets good gas mileage.
This car gets good gas mileage.

5. Change your oil - Regular oil changes allow your engine to run more efficiently and get better gas mileage. Not changing your oil leads to all sorts of bad outcomes, including lower gas mileage, more frequent trips to the mechanic, and a generally lower performing automobile.

6. Maintain your car - As annoying as it can be to pay a mechanic to fix your car, regularly scheduled maintenance is a good idea that leads to a better performing car that will have fewer problems over the course of its life. Many, many people just drive their cars into the ground and then show up at the mechanic at the last minute only to find that their car isn't worth the cost of repairs. Consistently avoiding maintenance will lead to lower gas mileage over a car's life and much more out-of-pocket expenditures on gasoline.

7. Avoid hard acceleration - Driving fast wastes gas. Slamming on the accelerator from a dead stop not only wastes gas, but it's one of the hardest things on a car. It wears out your tires faster. It taxes your car's mechanical systems more. It leads to more repairs.

8. Stay in one lane as long as possible - Swerving and accelerating to pass uses gas, so the less you do that, the better your gas mileage is going to be.

9. Always park in the shade - There's a parking garage near my work. Some of it is above ground and some of it is below ground. So where should I park? Clearly, below ground because my car will cool off and the gas in my car will cool off too. Just like you should buy your gas in the morning before it heats up, so should you try to keep the gas in your car cool. Your mileage will increase.

10. Take all that extra crap out of your car - I went to Home Depot the other day and bought two big things of tile that probably weight seventy-five pounds each. Then, instead of taking them out of my car, I just left them in there along with my kid's bike, some potting soil, and a whole host of other things. Keep your car clean. The lighter your car, the better the gas mileage.

11. Make trips in bunches - Plan your trips in bunches and in order from farthest to closest or closest to farthest. Remember that "shortest distance is a straight line" stuff from elementary school? Well, who knew that would save you gas. It will.

12. Trust your car's gas auto shut-off system - You shouldn't be topping off. Usually, fuel gets spilled. Most cars don't want you to top off the tank anyway and most gasoline dispensers have auto shut-off mechanisms on them anyway. They're there for a reason.

13. Drive less - Here's an easy one: if you can walk, don't drive. If you can bike, don't drive. Exercise is a good thing and pollution is a bad thing. Then there's car pooling. Maybe there are trips you can make with other people. Have a neighbor who works in the same general location as you? Try car pooling.

14. Buy gas on Wednesday - Did you know that statistically, gas is cheapest on Wednesdays? It's true. However, this is something that will benefit you if you buy gas on Wednesdays over time. It doesn't mean that gas is always cheapest on every Wednesday.

15. Don't idle too much - Generally, it's best just to turn your car off because most people who idle end up idling longer than expected and using more gas than if they had simply turned off their cars. It is true that during the same time it takes you to idle, turning to car on uses more gas, but most people don't idle for two seconds.

This would just be a cool car to have. (CC-BY 3.0)
This would just be a cool car to have. (CC-BY 3.0)

What's more important to you in a car?

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