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Money Saving Gas Tips

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How you drive and maintain your vehicle can either increase or decrease your vehicle's fuel efficiency and your gas costs. Consider these simple tips that can add up to savings worth weeks of groceries or other needs for you and your family. Why pay more at the pump than you have to?

(*Tips are calculated as annual savings, driving the national average of 10,100 miles per year in a vehicle with a fuel economy of 21 mpg using regular grade gasoline at $3.80 per gallon – average pump price for regular unleaded gasoline as of 5/26/2011 from the AAA/Oil Price Information Service Daily Fuel Gauge Report.)

Driving Tips

  • Curb road rage. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds. Drivers can save up to 240 gallons of gasoline, or up to $913, by driving sensibly on the highway.
  • Drive sensibly. Around town, sensible driving can save 5% – up to 24 gallons of gasoline and up to $91.
  • Cut Miles. If you can cut your vehicle miles traveled by just 5% through combining trips, walking, biking, or taking public transportation, you can save up to $91 per year on gasoline costs. Walking and biking are good for your health too!
  • Choose the Right Vehicle. If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets better gas mileage whenever possible. If you drive 12,500 miles a year, switching 10% of your trips from driving a car that gets 20 mpg to one that gets 30 mpg will save you almost $63 per year.
  • Turn Down the Air. Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce mpg by 5 – 25% compared to not using it.
  • It‘s a ”drag.“ Avoid carrying items on your vehicle‘s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk whenever possible to improve your fuel economy.
  • Ditch "junk in the trunk." An extra 100 pounds in the trunk cuts a typical vehicle‘s fuel economy by up to 2%. You can save up to 9 gallons of gasoline per year – almost $40 – by removing an extra 100 pounds of unneeded items from the trunk.
  • Decrease Your Speed. Speeding costs! Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.
  • Avoid idling. Idling gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  • Combine errands/trips. If you combine errands into one trip, you drive fewer miles and use less fuel. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multipurpose trip when the engine is warmed up and efficient.
  • Use Overdrive Gear. If available, use your vehicle‘s overdrive gear to reduce engine speed, which will enable you to save gas and reduce engine wear.
  • Use Cruise Control. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving.
  • Consider other transportation options. Investigate options for getting to work and other places – public transportation, carpooling, biking, walking, or ridesharing when possible. Drivers who switch to other alternatives to get to work might be able to get a car insurance premium discount because typically rates are assigned based on how far you drive to work. The commuting discount applies at any time – while many other discounts apply only when buying a new car.
  • Carpool. Using the average U.S. work commute of 12.1 miles, commuters could save about $159 a year by carpooling twice a week with two other people in a vehicle that gets 20.1 miles per gallon – assuming the three passengers share the cost of gas.
  • Motorcycling. Motorcycles average 56 mpg—and motor scooters do even better. For one person or even two, motorcycles or scooters clearly use far less energy than a car with one or two people. If four people need to go somewhere, they are better off in a vehicle that gets 30 mpg than on two motorcycles that get 56 mpg.
  • Telecommute or Stagger Work Hours. If your employer permits, avoid sitting in traffic and wasting gas, especially during peak rush hours. A worker who telecommutes twice a week would save about $478 a year in gasoline costs.
  • Request the Right Rental. Request a vehicle that gets better fuel economy, and remember to fill up the tank before returning the car to the rental company, which charges much higher gas prices – and perhaps even an extra gas surcharge.
  • Buy Smart. When buying a new or used vehicle, think high gas mileage. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy's Web site or look for a SmartWay© certified vehicle on EPA's Green Vehicle Guide for information on fuel-efficient vehicles.

Maintenance Tips

  • Inflate Your Tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated is simple and improves gas mileage by around 3%, saving up to 14 gallons of gasoline, or up to $56.
  • Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4% – saving up to 20 gallons of gasoline and about $56. Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40% – saving up to 320 gallons of gasoline or up to $1,218.
  • Check and replace air filters regularly. Replacing a clogged or dirty air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine – though in newer model cars it does not improve fuel efficiency.
  • Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil can improve gas mileage by 1 to 2%, resulting in annual savings of up to $37. Motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Also, change your oil to extend the life of your vehicle and to save even more money. And remember to recycle used oil which, with proper controls, can be safely re-used as a fuel or re-refined back to a lube oil.

Money-$aving Vacation Gas Tips

Whether your vacation plans include a road trip or flying then renting a car, how you drive and maintain a vehicle can either increase or decrease a vehicle's fuel efficiency and your gas costs. You can start saving money on gas even before you are on the road with a little planning and basic maintenance tips.

  • Planning your vacation:
    • Choose the right vehicle. If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets better gas mileage if possible.
    • Request the right rental. If you are renting a vehicle at your destination, request a vehicle that gets better fuel economy, and remember to fill up the tank before returning the car to the rental company, which charges much higher gas prices – and perhaps even an extra gas surcharge.
    • Are we there yet? Getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas. Resources on the Drive $marter Challenge website can help your family print a customized vacation map that highlights low cost gas along your route.
    • Rise and shine! When possible drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop and go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.
    • Consider other transportation options. Investigate options for getting around on your vacation— public transportation, biking, walking, or ridesharing when possible.
    • Motorcycling. Motorcycles average 56 mph—and motor scooters do even better. For one person or even two, motorcycles or scooters clearly use far less energy than a car with one or two people. If four people need to go somewhere, they are better off in a vehicle that gets 30 mpg than on two motorcycles that get 56 mpg.
  • Before You Leave: Maintenance Tips
    • Inflate your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated is simple and improves gas mileage by around 3%.
    • Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil, including re-refined motor oil, improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%, resulting in annual savings of up to $30. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Also, change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your vehicle and remember to recycle the used oil which can be re-refined, saving even more energy.
    • Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.
  • While On The Road: Driving Tips
    • Decrease your speed. Speeding costs! Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph.
    • Use cruise control on highways. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving.
    • It’s a “drag.” Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk whenever possible to improve your fuel economy.
    • Turn down the air. Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce mpg by 5 – 25% compared to not using it.
    • Avoid idling. which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.

(* Savings estimates represent the highest likely savings to occur. Individual savings will vary depending on how many miles you drive per year, the fuel economy of your vehicle, your region‘s climate, and your current maintenance and driving habits.)