By Mike Rabkin, President, From Car to Finish
Tip 1: Use the Gas Buddy app on your phone. This is a free app where consumers report and constantly update gas prices nationwide. It can search from a zip code or from your location based on your GPS, and you can sort by price/distance/brand/grade of gas. It’s not uncommon to find differences of 10-20 cents/gallon in close proximity. As a bonus, whenever you report prices to Gas Buddy, you get points which can be used collectively to enter into a local sweepstakes to receive a $100 gas card.
Tip 2: Use your local supermarket’s gas points program. It’s free and if you shop carefully, you can easily get many extra points to be used to lower the price per gallon of gas a through a gas station your local supermarket has chosen as a partner. Usually every dollar spent at the supermarket equals a point, and every 100 points (i.e. every $100 spent) gives you a discount of $.10/gallon off for one fill up. There are also specials that allow you to get hundreds of points at a time just for buying multiples of a specific product in that week’s circular. I once had a fill-up where I had 1,200 points to use, which meant $1.20/gallon off the current price. That’s not chump change!
Tip 3: Keep your tires filled to the correct tire pressure. You can reduce fuel consumption up to 3 percent if your tires are properly inflated. Be aware your tires are constantly slow leaking air even if working properly (about one pound per square inch per month), so check tire pressure at least that often to keep it optimum. Another bonus for keeping tires properly inflated is to improve wear and lengthen tire life.
Tip 4: Keep your engine properly tuned. A properly tuned engine can enhance fuel efficiency. Enough said.
Tip 5: Keep cargo weight to a minimum. It’s simple physics. The less a car weighs, the less the engine has to work to move it, which saves gas. Try to carry only what you need in the vehicle or trunk, as opposed to treating your vehicle like a rolling closet. Every extra 100 pounds decreases fuel efficiency by one to two percent. This matters more for stop-and-go-traffic as opposed to highway driving.
Tip 6: Keep engine air filter clean or replaced: The dirtier your engine air filter gets, the worse your fuel efficiency gets. Makes sure it’s replaced on schedule or sooner if you drive in dusty conditions. If it’s a reusable aftermarket air filter such as K&N, clean it and replace at recommended intervals. Reusable filters can improve fuel efficiency and at times slightly increase your vehicle’s performance over the stock disposable air filter as well.
Tip 7: Replace fuel filter according to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. This is key to maintaining optimum fuel efficiency.
Tip 8: If your car has fuel injection, make sure the evaporative emissions control systems, oxygen sensors, engine emissions system are working properly. Not doing so can decrease fuel mileage considerably.
Tip 9: Use your vehicle’s AC less frequently in stop-and-go-traffic if possible, and roll the windows down instead.
Tip 10: Use your cruise control when possible on highway driving. Keeping your speed fairly constant, with less stops and starts, can increase fuel economy considerably.
Tip 11: Accelerate smoothly, as opposed to flooring the gas pedal.
Tip 12: Don’t brake unnecessarily. Try to coast in advance of a situation that might require slowing down, instead of slamming on the brakes at the last minute and having to re-accelerate.