Gasoline prices have trickled down in the last few weeks, however they are still about double what they were 4 years ago, making it important to get the most mileage out of each gallon of gas as possible. Some of these tips come from “20 ways to save gas this summer” Popular Mechanics 7/2012 magazine. Here are are some of the top suggestions and a few of my own.

  1. Right turn only route: The other night on the way to a small group meeting, my wife wondered why I took a different route to get there versus coming home. The reason is I like right turns better. No I’m not OCD, well okay I am some but I am also impatient- I know I can make more right turns on red, and spend less time at traffic lights. This increases fuel economy 3% according to the article.
  2. Avoid traffic: Sitting in traffic for long stretches of time consumes a lot of fuel, so take a less congested route if it isn’t too far out of the way. Many people have GPS navigation systems, they are very helpful to people who aren’t street savvy, since they can help you find alternate routs.
  3. Avoid high ethanol fuels: Although most gasoline has some ethanol today, avoid the high E fuels since it has less energy, causing reduced mileage- 15% ethanol has 30% less energy.
  4. Inflate tires: Putting them at their proper level makes them wear better and produces better mileage, low air increases rolling resistance which is bad for gas mileage.
  5. Tune ups, oil changes and air filters: These simple maintenance items keep the car’s engine running more efficiently, follow your owners manual and visually inspect the items too.
  6. Eco versus sports tires: Sporty tires are designed primarily for handling, so if you don’t mind a little less cornering ability at higher speeds, look for tires that are designed for high gas mileage
  7. Close the tailgate if you have a pickup: This seems to go against logic- you would think without the tailgate open, air would flow more freely over the back. However, research indicates that most trucks get better mileage with the tailgate up. The flow of air reacts differently coming off of the big front area, and creates strange air currents if the gate is left down, as air flows towards the back of the truck. Or maybe this is just propaganda the truck makers put out, because they want you to see the manufacturers name advertised across the closed tailgate.
  8. Empty trunk: Stores tools, golf bags and other rarely used items in your home. Why pay to haul them around if the items are seldom needed?
  9. Windows up/windows down:  At lower speeds during the warmer months, shut the AC off and open windows to save gas. However at higher speeds, the open windows create drag- crank the windows closed, and turn the AC on.
  10. Driving the farthest distance first: Hot engines get better gas mileage, so if you are running a lot of errands, head to the farthest one way first, then work your way home. If grocery shopping we take blue ice and a big freezer bag (Costco sells a huge rugged one) to keep perishables fresh.
  11. Avoid short trips:  Package errands together, so you aren’t planning so many short trips. This is better for your car too, since short distances leave water condensation in exhaust systems, leading to rust.
  12. Remove van seats. Carrying around an extra hundred pounds or more costs gas. If you have an older van the seats are probably easy to remove, however if the kids are grown and you seldom take passengers, store the seats in the garage or basement. Watch your back, they can be heavy and clumsy- ask a neighbor to help you carry them. Most of the newer van’s seats retract into the floor and probably are not removable.
  13. Coast to traffic lights in gear: This uses less fuel than shifting into neutral. Don’t be overly annoying about doing this, it can induce road rage. But if it’s obvious that the light ahead is red- you can see cars are piled up and opposing traffic is in the intersection, chances are you can coast.
  14. Accelerate a little faster: This is the biggest shocker to me.  Popular mechanics proved in several tests that if you accelerate at double your cars fastest time to 60, then you are most efficient. The wives of slow frugal drivers can rejoice!  If your car can hit 60 in 7 or 8 seconds, then take about 15 seconds to get up to speed. However if getting on the highway, let-r-rip-, put the cell phone down, floor the baby, and check your mirrors, and glance over your shoulder to make sure no one is in your blind spot. Now you have a good excuse to grab a stop watch and find a lonely stretch of road to check your car’s 0 – 60 time, have fun!
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