Be sure your vehicle is well maintained. Get tune-ups at recommended intervals as well as oil changes. Be sure tires are in good condition and properly inflated. Under inflated tires can drastically affect your gas mileage resulting in higher fuel costs.
Know your vehicle's fuel efficiency. To find this out, you should not simply rely on the mileage ratings for your make and model. Instead, begin with a full tank of gas and measure the mileage until your next fill-up. Divide the number of miles driven by the amount of fuel used to determine what mileage you are actually getting. If possible, do separate calculations for city driving and highway driving
Avoid having to buy fuel when your choices are limited. If you are often in an area where cheap fuel is common, refuel before you end up too low on fuel when you will not be near the cheap gas. In other words, if the station next to your work always has the best fuel price, be sure you have enough gas when you leave work on Friday so that you do not have to buy more expensive gas over the weekend.
Drive conservatively. A car uses the most fuel when it is accelerating. Avoid quick starts and maintain a steady speed whenever possible. Use cruise control whenever feasible to avoid unnecessary changes in speed that can consume fuel more quickly.
Choose your routes carefully to avoid congested areas and spend as much drive time as possible on freeways or highways where stopping and starting can be avoided. Remember city driving compared to highway driving is much less efficient, so if you have a choice of routes, stick to the open road.
Be sure you know alternate routes. Inevitably, the route you take to work everyday will eventually turn into a work zone. Or there will be an accident and traffic will be detoured around the wreck. It is a good idea to know the area you drive through daily so that you can choose the best alternate route quickly.
Listen to radio stations that provide morning and afternoon drive time traffic reports. Most larger cities will have at least one station that provides this information. This is another reason it is good to have a working knowledge of alternate routes.
Get a portable GPS car navigation system such as Garmin, Megellan or Tom Tom. These can assist in choosing best routes, finding cheap gas, avoiding construction zones and more. They can especially come in handy when you need to change routes mid-journey in an area you are not familiar with. Be sure to keep your device updated with the latest information to get the most from it.
Use smart phone apps that can find the cheapest gas near you. There are many apps for smart phones that can do this such as GasBuddy, Fuel Finder, My Gas Wars, GasBook, Cheap Gas, etc.
No smart phone? Check the Internet before leaving home. Many of the apps available for smart phones also offer the same info via their websites. Even Mapquest has the ability now to locate the best gas price available in your area.
To increase the effectiveness of websites and apps offering information on low fuel prices, be sure to join and contribute to the sites. Information you provide when you fill up or just when you make note of local prices will help others save.
Purchase discount gas gift cards through websites like Gift Card Granny, Gift Card Rescue and Plastic Jungle. These sites purchase unwanted gift cards and re-sell them at a discount. Another way to get discounted gift cards is to watch retailers during the holidays when they may offer a free card with the purchase of a certain amount in gift cards. Also, many pawn shops are now purchasing and reselling gift cards.
Avoid unnecessary trips and combine errands whenever possible. Do you really need to make a special trip to the Post Office for stamps when you will be going right by there on your weekly grocery shopping trip tomorrow? This is the kind of question you need to ask yourself. Even when you have to make a slight detour to include two errands on the same trip, it is likely to be less driving than two separate trips.
Shop online rather than in traditional brick and mortar stores. Carnegie Mellon's Green Design Institute estimate fuel costs can be reduced by as much as 35% through the use of e-commerce. Online shopping may not work for everything, but can be used in many instances and often can even be used to find better prices.
Try to carpool whenever possible. If you cannot find co-workers willing to share rides, try finding workers in neighboring businesses who would like to save a bit on fuel costs. You could also try placing an ad on a site like Craigslist.
Take advantage of loyalty cards. Many retailers like WalMart offer discounts at affiliated gas retailers like Murphy USA where your WalMart credit card or gift card can save you 3¢ per gallon or you can apply for a Murphy USA card that will save you 4¢ per gallon. Many other gas retailers offer similar savings with credit cards you can apply for through them.
Avoid gas stations in areas that may be more expensive. Generally this would include gas stations along major highways and isolated stations that have little or no competition. However, keep an open mind and always compare prices because sometimes there are exceptions to this advice.
But do not let higher prices take you too far out of your way. Consider your vehicle's fuel efficiency and how far out of your way you need to travel for cheaper gas to determine if it is worth the savings.
Use air conditioning conservatively. The compressor works the engine harder and increases fuel consumption. try to park in shaded areas to reduce the need for air conditioning. Also, turn off the air conditioning a few minutes before reaching your destination if possible. Begin your journey with the windows down to flush out hot air before switching on the air.
If you have automatic transmission, you can conserve fuel by shifting to neutral when standing still. This can add up if done consistently at stop lights, railroad crossings, waiting in drive-thrus, etc.
If you are going to be stopped for more than thirty seconds, you will conserve more fuel with most cars by actually turning off the motor. while this may not be feasible at stoplights or in drive-thrus where wait times can be fairly short, it can be beneficial if you are waiting while someone runs into the store to grab a gallon of milk or if you can clearly see the train is going to take awhile.
Which brings us to warming up the car. With older cars, it was necessary, or at least beneficial, to let the engine warm up for several minutes before driving the vehicle. But with newer cars, this is not the case. Here is what the guys at Car Talk say about warming your modern vehicle:
"Unless it's below freezing, cars don't need to be warmed up at all. Driving them gently is the best warm up there is. If it's 25 degrees out, you might want to let it warm up for 30 seconds. If it's 10 degrees out, warm it up for a minute. If it's -10 degrees out, move somewhere warmer."
Drive at a more efficient speed. Generally this will mean slowing down. But a car's most efficient speed can vary from vehicle to vehicle. This might be something you will want to monitor over time. Try reducing your speed by 5 mph on the way to and from work and recalculate your vehicle's fuel efficiency to see if it effects your fuel consumption and if so to what degree. Of course, this needs to be done within the legal speed limits.
Keep your windows closed. Open car windows can increase wind resistance which is one of the major factors affecting fuel consumption. You should also consider removing luggage racks if not being used. A lot of people think that over time the lights on police cars got smaller and lower to the top of the car to make it easier to the cops to sneak up on unsuspecting drivers, but the truth is the redesigned bar lights increase fuel efficiency making them much more desirable to budget conscious government agencies like law enforcement.
Reduce the weight of your vehicle if possible. Do not carry unnecessary items in your trunk or back seat. Things get tricky when you consider filling the tank adds more weight so consider only partially filling the tank when possible to keep the vehicle's weight down and only refueling when you are getting low on fuel or need to avoid running low on fuel.