52 Gas Saving Tips

We have total 52 car gas saving tips in this article:

  • +26 strategies without cost
  • +3 wash rule
  • +16 controversial or minor
  • + 8 next car buying


=52 total car gas saving tips

The gas price continues to rise and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.  I wanted to share this article about fuel efficient driving techniques with you. I have learned many ways of saving money on gas by improving my gas mileage. There are many things you can do, aside from going out and buying a more fuel efficient car, that will help you to cut down your gasoline expenses tremendously. Many require only minor adjustments to your driving style. I am going to review some well known techniques and add some of my own. I have always been able to exceed the specified gas mileage of my car (even meeting the specified numbers is pretty tough for most people). Some methods work better than others for saving gas. To help get the most bang for your transportation buck, we’ve sorted different tips in the order of effectiveness to help you save gas and money.

Strategy Without Cost

1. Carpool (structural)

The amount of gas used per person is halved each time you carpool to work with someone. If you can manage with two other people, you only pay one third of the cost. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes which are typically less congested, further improving your fuel economy. Not only are you saving gas and money, you get the added bonus in the fast lane (which means using brakes less)! Since they can now use carpool lanes, they won’t have to spend as much time in traffic (idle engines use gas too).  Google keyword such as “ride share” or “car pool”, you will find websites that help you find carpool partners. If you have the choice, a lighter carpool partner would be preferred because heavier load cause more gas. However with the gas price as high as now days, you are still better off having a carpool partner whether a heavy one or not.  Even better if you can arrange to carpool with two others.

2. Consolidate Trips (temporal)

If you go grocery shopping on Saturday, can you stop at the same grocery store Friday evening on your way home? If you live outside of town, try to go into town only once and get everything you need done. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and efficient, and it can reduce the total distance you travel.

3. Pick the best route (spatial)

If it is one time trip, you may simply use a GPS to plan a route, but it pays to spend a little more time to consider alternatives or experiment for your daily commute. If your current route involves lots of stoplights, it might not be the most fuel-efficient route. Stopping a lot only increases the amount of gas you use. Look for low-traffic highways or back roads.

4. Drive Less

You may not like to hear this as much, but a lot of people bike to work, walk to stores or use public transportation (if it is cheap or subsidized).

5. Off-Peak Hours

When possible drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop and go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.

6. Brake correctly (reduce friction to heat)

Cars use the most gas when they accelerate. While this may seem obvious, in somewhat heavy traffic this can mean burning through a lot of gas. It’s fairly easy to maintain a speed in a long line of cars without using your brakes-instead, pay attention to the cars in front you and anticipate when to slightly ease off the gas. This will keep you from losing momentum when you hit the brakes. A moving car doesn’t require much gasoline to keep moving, it only needs energy to overcome the friction. In real life, I see in heavy traffic people cannot control their speed with the accelerator pad alone. Instead I see those guys speed up and slam on the brakes all the time. Obviously, that makes the guy following too close behind very nervous and he too needs to brake and accelerate constantly. Just practice keeping a little bit more distance and not braking as much.   If the traffic moves along, and if you pay attention to the cars ahead of you, not just the one right in front of your nose,  but the other cars ahead of that one, you can anticipate when things will slow down and you can ease off the gas. This means you won’t lose all that power to break pad friction and you can keep your speed without having to accelerate. When you break, the energy is converted to heat, this is wasted energy.   And you’ll get where you’re going at the same time.

7. Hybrid or electric car brake (efficient energy conversion)

Try to avoid fast braking. You may think that hybrid cars have the ability to convert braking power into electric energy and store them in their batteries. Thus braking would not hurt.  However this induction will only give you so much braking power. If you need to decelerate faster, your brakes will engage and energy will be lost. So the next time you are approaching a traffic light, start braking a lot sooner and don’t slam on the brakes the last minute. This will significantly improve the efficiency of your hybrid car. By starting to decelerate sooner, I can often avoid coming to a complete stop (regular car), before the traffic light switches to green and the cars in front of me start rolling. This way I can keep some of my inertia and don’t have to accelerate as much.

8. Use cruise control (lower RPM and efficient gas burning)

If your car is equipped with cruise control and there isn’t much traffic, you’ll save gas if you turn it on. It keeps your speed constant, which means you won’t have to keep accelerating and use more gas. When you use overdrive gearing, your car’s engine RPM goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear. When you depress the gas pedal, it opens up the gas valve. If there is too much gas, it will not be burned completely, thus the chemical energy is not converted completely to kinetic energy. The cruise control computer chip does a much better jobs of controlling the valve making the gas burn completely.

9. Turn your car off (no gas burning)

When you turn on a car, it uses a bit of gas. When the car is idling, it uses a minimum but non-zero amount of gas (especially with the AC on). In most scenarios, the energy balance will be positive if you turn off your car for more then 40 seconds. That means you can save gas if you turn off you car while waiting at long traffic light sequences, railroad crossings, the ATM cash machine or chatting with your friends. Any time you can foresee that you will not be moving for more then 40s or 1 minute you should turn off the engine. Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use. Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked. It only takes a few seconds worth of fuel to restart your vehicle. Note: turning your engine on and off excessively, however, may increase starter wear, so don’t apply this rule religiously.

10. Remove your racks (lowering drag coefficient)

A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs with a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by placing items inside the trunk whenever possible. Unless you’re using the ski, bicycle, or luggage rack on the roof every week, remove it. It increases the wind resistance on your car which results in more gas used. The higher speed, the more drag friction due to the non-streamlined shape. Thus when you do have the racks installed, driving higher speed will waste more energy than lower speed. This is because the drag friction does not change linearly with the speed, rather it increases proportional to the square of the velocity. Every car has a certain amount of drag or wind resistance. This drag, the rolling resistance of your tires and the friction in your engine are the three main causes of reduced efficiency.

11. Drive slower (lowering drag coefficient)

You use less gas when you drive slower. In fact, for every five miles per hour you reduce highway speed, you reduce fuel consumption 7%. The reason is the same as above. This is because the drag friction does not change linearly with the speed, rather it increases proportional to the square of the velocity.  There may not that much difference between 60mph and 55mph in terms of fuel consumption because each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.30 per gallon for gas.

12. Use the overdrive (lowering RPM)

If you have a manual transmission you probably understand that keeping lower RPM would save you gas. A lower RPM would generate less heat because the cylinder travels less in equivalent distance. Similarly if you have automatic transmission, then use the overdrive gears, as this will generally keep your RPM down and lower your gas consumption.

13. Drop extra weight (lowering friction)

The heavier the car, the more friction to the bearings of the car, the more gas it takes to move it. Remove heavy items collecting dust in your trunk-it’s a simple thing that will instantly save you money.  You may try to reduce the mass of your car by emptying out the trunk and removing heavy items that you don’t need, keep your spare tire, car jack and emergency blanket, but get rid of the gardening equipment, the lawn chairs and the case of water bottles. An extra 100 lbs in the trunk reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by 1-2 percent. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.

14. Turn off the AC (lowering motor load)

As you probably know, running the air conditioner impacts your car’s overall fuel efficiency. This is because when the AC is engaged, the AC unit is attached to the motor belt and it causes extra load on the motor (the compressor for the air conditioner loads the motor of your car more). Some people may tell you that it does not matter because they had done experiment and showed there is no significant difference. But the factor is, there would be extra load on the motor, and that extra load would waste gas. When the AC is on when idling, the idle RPM may also be higher. You may do a experiment yourself: when the engine is idle, notice the RPM, and then turn the AC on, notice the RPM again, you will see the RPM is higher when AC is on. So if you can bear it, try not to turn it on. If you must, turn it off 5-10 minutes before reaching your destination. The car will stay cool enough for that short amount of time. This tip might be somewhat impractical in some areas. For the same token, always park in the shade-that way, your car won’t have to work as hard to get cool.  Note, while  some people swear that this would not work, we recommend readers to experiment with it.

15. Drive Conservatively

Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.

16. Use Proper Engine Oil

What is the difference between 5W-20  and 5W-30? The grade of the oil tells us about the viscosity. If you use the wrong grade, you may increase the friction in your engine. It gets hotter and uses more gas. This is the trade-off between gas mileage and the lifespan of your engine. When you use 5W-20 instead of 5W-30, you have better gas mileage, although you shorten your engine’s lifespan. You can improve your gas mileage by 1–2 percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1–2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1–1.5 percent. Also, look for motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives. If you change your own engine oil, get the proper kind of oil. If you have someone else change your engine oil, make sure they use the correct oil. Sometimes the garage advertise cheap oil changing for 10W-30, but charge more for your particular kind of oil, watch out and shop around.

17. Inflate your tires to the specified level. This will reduce the contact area of your tire to the road and therefore reduce the friction. It will help you to get a slightly improved gas mileage. Be aware that you should not over-inflate the tire, the over-inflated tire will reduce traction and the controllability of your car. You don’t want an accident.

18. If you don’t need Snow Tires or Chains, remove them. Don’t drive around all summer with Snow Tires. They are softer and have a deeper profile which will increase friction.

19. Shift to neutral when still

When idling at a stoplight or in a parking light, shift into neutral. This reduces transmission strain and gives the transmission some time to cool down.

20. Sporadic Gas Station

I have often also noticed that the first gas station you encounter after a long thirsty stretch is almost never the cheapest. After you leave a national park and didn’t have a chance to pump gas for a long time, the first station will often have slightly higher prices as everyone pulls over to fill up as soon as they can. I usually drive a little further to find a cheaper station.

21. Gas Station Competition

You may not fill up on gas stations visible from the Interstate when you are driving on or from the main freeways. You should take an exit at a moderately sized city when you are on a road trip and head for the city center. Before you actually get there, you may find much better deals. Location and Competition are the factors that determine local price. This means you need to look for places with lots of competition (hence moderately sized city) and avoid prime locations (get away from the main roads). Large cities often have higher gas prices and are harder to navigate. Keep a record of the location from your last trip if you think you may go to the same city again. This way you can pull over whenever you see a station that had significantly lower prices then you had seen previously, even if your tank was only half-full. On road trips, the rules are slightly different. Fill up whenever and wherever it is cheap and do not wait for your tank to be empty.

22. Use Website

Check out gas prices on the internet. There are websites that will let you find the best deals on gas in your area, without having to drive around looking for them. Use website such as GasBuddy.com, gasprices.mapquest.com to find low gas prices in the USA and Canada. You may also the states from the links at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/gasprices/states/index.shtml

23. Loss Leader

Wholesale clubs, grocery stores or department stores with gas stations will sell gas close to cost or at a loss (loss leader), in order to get people into the stores where they may buy other, higher margin items. Some of these places require memberships. The cost of the membership must be factored into the price. Some of these stations also give you a credit for in store purchases when you fill up with gas. This can result in considerable indirect savings. Service stations, with an auto repair shop on site, often have more expensive gas.

24.  Available Discounts

Many stations have coupons available for discounts on gas purchases. These coupons can be found in various places, like the back side of grocery store receipts, in the mail coupons, internet coupons. Many stations will give you a discount on gas with the purchase of a car wash, or visa versa. A great way to save money on gas is by using a gas rebate credit card. The Costco American Express, many visa cash rebate cards give you 2% on gas purchase and 1% on other purchase. The Discover® Open Road Card – $75 Restaurant.com Gift Certificate gives you 2% Cashback Bonus automatically at any gas station and any restaurant. Up to 1% unlimited Cashback bonus on all other purchases.

25. Avoid rough roads

Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel robs you of up to 30% of your gas mileage even if it is slight shorter in distance. Rough roads also stress the mechanical parts and the suspension more. Compare traveling distance differences – remember that corners, curves and lane jumping requires extra gas. The shortest distance between two points is always straight.

26. Speed Up Before Hills

Think ahead when approaching hills. If you accelerate, do it before you reach the hill, not while you’re on it. Most modern cars are not optimized for heavy load such as a steep hill, thus even if you floor your gas pedal allowing the maximum amount of gas flow, the car still may not get enough power, thus causing incomplete gas burning, wasting your gas.

Wash Rule

1. Drafting or Braking

A car moving through the air causes the air to split around the car and turbulence behind the car. If you drive your car into another cars slipstream, both cars will save fuel (less turbulence). The following car saves the most gasoline. If you watch bicycle racing you will understand this saving. If you find a large truck (more turbulence and a longer slipstream tail) and slip in there. This technique is frequently used by race car drivers to gain speed and truck convoys to save fuel.  Now, you can and should still keep some distance (unlike the NASCAR driver) but you will still save gas. . Drafting can provide some excellent mileage when you commute long distance.  However, many people cannot regulate their speed without braking . In this case, it is a wash, you are probably better off just keeping your distance and not braking.  Obviously, it requires a bit of skill and it’s not exactly recommended, since your priority is paying attention to the road.

2. Close your windows or Air Conditioning

By opening your windows will change the streamline shape of your car and increase the turbulences and eventually cost you fuel. If you can, use only the ventilation system of your car. Because the wind drag resistance is not linear with respect to the velocity, you should not open your windows at high speed. This is because the drag is proportional to the square of the velocity. So you may open your windows at low speeds and use the air conditioner at high speeds, this will give you better fuel economy.

3. Arco or Credit Card

Arco only accepts cash for cheaper gas price. But if you have a credit card giving you rebate, this may be a wash. For example, Costco business American express card gives you 4% rebate, if you pay $4/gallon with card, it is equivalent of $3.86/gallon.

Controversial or Minor Effect

1. Turn off the lights

Well, this one might be a safety concern. Many Rental Car companies have daylights enabled on their cars which are rather efficient. However every electrical equipment is powered from the alternator which will increase its load on the engine to produce more power. The alternator may be engaged causing extra motor load anyway. But if turning it off may not hurt you, or when you can do it safely, turn off those headlights.

2. Gas up Rule

Don’t fill up unless you are on empty, since the gas weighs a lot. However you only do this when gas prices are falling or constant (so I can wait longer and get cheaper gas). When gas prices are rising, I fill up sooner. Due to the psychological impact of rising gas prices, people usually do the exact opposite, which will eventually cost them more.

3. Truck Tailgate Off

Some people suggest that dropping the tailgate of a pickup  truck, is able to improve the aerodynamics and thus get a better gas mileage. It makes sense, even though some study and experiment suggested that it makes no differences. I would say at high speed it should make some difference.

4. Check your air filter

NEW INFORMATION: Replacing a Clogged Air Filter on Modern Cars Improves Performance but Not MPG. A new study shows that replacing a clogged air filter on cars with fuel-injected, computer-controlled gasoline engines does not improve fuel economy but it can improve acceleration time by around 6 to 11 percent. This kind of engine is prevalent on most gasoline cars manufactured from the early 1980s onward.

Tests suggest that replacing a clogged air filter on an older car with a carbureted engine may improve fuel economy 2 to 6 percent under normal replacement conditions or up to 14 percent if the filter is so clogged that it significantly affects drivability.

5. On removing extra weight:

  • Don’t fill up until you’re on empty since gas is heavy too.
  • If you are overweight, try to lose weight, it is good to your health as well.

6. Have you considered the following options?

  • Stagger your work hours to avoid peak rush hours.
  • Drive your most fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Consider telecommuting (working from home) if your employer permits it.
  • Consider using public transit if it is available and convenient for you.

7. Time To Warm Up The Vehicle

Warming up the engine on your vehicle does not take a long time. It should only take between 30 and 45 seconds for your engine to warm up and be ready to run at peak efficiency. Leaving your car idling to warm up for additional time wastes gasoline.

8. Cold Time to Buy

Buy gasoline during coolest time of day – early morning or late evening is best. During these times gasoline is densest. Keep in mind – gas pumps measure volumes of gasoline, not densities of fuel concentration. You are charged according to “volume of measurement”. However the tank is buried underground, the temperature underground is different than the ambient temperature, thus the difference may be insignificant.

9. Avoid Reverse

Park car so that you can later begin to travel in forward gear; avoid reverse gear maneuvers to save gas. This may not be as significant, but if you are obsessed saving gas, why not.

10. Maintenance and check up

Regular tune-ups ensure best economy; check owner’s manual for recommended maintenance intervals. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for occasional misalignment. Bent wheels, axles, bad shocks, broken springs, etc. create engine drag and are unsafe at high traveling speeds.

11. Radial Tire Design

When shopping for new tires, get large diameter tires for rear wheels. Radial designs may be the fuel-savers.

12. Remove vinyl tops

Remove vinyl tops – they cause air drag. Rough surfaces disturb otherwise smooth air flow around a car’s body.

13. Remove Ice and Snow

During cold weather watch for icicles frozen to car frame. Up to 100 lbs. can be quickly accumulated! Unremoved snow and ice cause tremendous wind resistance. Water, even cold water hosed on will eliminate it fast.

14. Travel Speed Limit

Stoplights are usually timed for your motoring advantage. By traveling steadily at the legal speed limit you boost your chances of having the “green light” all the way. However this may or may not be true, and don’t speed up and run through a red light!

15. Pouring Additives

Where there’s a need, there’s a product, but that doesn’t mean it actually works. Our desire for better fuel economy seems answered by fuel additives and even bolt-on devices — but they’re a complete waste of money according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

16. Keep Engine Idle?

Starting a car sucks up a lot of fuel for the first few seconds,  so keep the engine idling when possible. While this is true for the old car, that’s bad advice today: today’s fuel-injected vehicles are efficient and don’t waste gas during start-ups anymore. In fact, idling can cost you up to half a gallon of gas an hour, so turn off the engine if you’re not going anywhere.

When the next time you buy or rent a car

1. Hybrid Car

If you are in the market for a new car, you definitely should consider fuel efficiencies. However the electric or hybrid is very expensive. I wouldn’t buy a hybrid just for the better fuel economy if I weren’t in the market for a new car. You can easily calculate how much money you would save a year and weigh that against the cost of the car. You should also consider the potentially higher maintenance cost and the battery replacement cost. Remember a hybrid car only saves you money for local commutes, when you brake it stores energy generated from your gas engine in the battery. On highway driving it uses the gas engine, so there is no advantage on highway driving.

2. Electric Car

Similar to hybrid car, electric car is expensive. However the federal rebate and state incentives may be attractive for now. Your work place may also have a charge station you can use for free. In addition, an electric car may allow you to drive on the carpool lane even you are driving alone. So calculate the incentive and the cost, it may be worth the money to try.

3. Diesel Car

Diesel engines can give you a much better gas mileage than Hybrids on long distance drives. That’s one of the reasons, hybrids aren’t popular in Europe but Diesels are.

4. Small Car

A small car always has a better fuel economy due to its smaller mass. The small car is light weight thus the friction on the bearing is less. It is smaller, thus the wind drag is less at high speed. Smart budget travelers therefore rent smaller cars and don’t care much about the status a shiny big car conveys.

5. Manual Transmission

A manual transmission saves you gas. You can manually determine if you want a sporty shifting (at higher RPM using more gas) or a fuel efficient shifting (at low RPM). No matter how “intelligent” automatic transmissions are, they aren’t as smart as you. Due to the way an automatic transmission shifts, there are also higher losses associated with automatic transmissions. Overall a manual transmission can be a lot more fuel efficient.

If you have a manual transmission and want to save some gas, you need to shift up early and shift down late.

6. Use Gas Mileage Estimates

www.fueleconomy.gov has gas mileage estimates and more information for 1984-2013 model year cars. Selecting which vehicle to purchase is the most important fuel economy decision you’ll make. The difference between a car that gets 20 MPG and one that gets 30 MPG amounts to $930 per year (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $3.72).  That’s $4,650 extra in fuel costs over five years!

7. No Sun Roof

Bear in mind when buying new cars that a fancy sun roof helps disturb smooth air flow (and mileage).

8. Regular Gas

Choose the cheapest gas possible. If you have a choice, choose the car with the regular gas. Most modern cars run just as well on regular unleaded as on the more expensive premium gas.