Save at the Gas Pump - Real Money Saving Tips
October 14, 2005
Real Money-Saving Steps
There are numerous no- or low-cost steps you can take to combat rising gas prices. Most cars can run on regular unleaded – 87 octane. High performance vehicles will usually require 91 octane or higher. Check your owner's manual to determine the right octane level for your car. It’s also usually written inside your gas lid, door panel, and sometimes right on your dashboard under the fuel gauge. It will say something like “Premium Unleaded Only” which means 91 octane or higher. All gas pumps must post the octane rating.
Drive more efficiently:
-- Stay within posted speed limits. The faster you drive, the more fuel you use. For example, driving at 65 miles per hour (mph), rather than 55 mph, increases fuel consumption by 20 percent. Driving at 75 mph, rather than 65 mph, increases fuel consumption by another 25 percent. This is caused by the amount of energy it takes to push your car through the air and the amount of drag created by your cars body.
So if your car gets 25-mpg highway at 55 mph, driving 65mph will drop it down to 20 mpg! Driving 75 mph drops it down to just 16 mpg!
My personal experience with my 98 VW Beetle: I drove to New York at the posted speed limits between 55 and 65 mph. I got about 35mpg and 450 miles on one tank!!! When I drove to Florida the posted speed limits were between 55 – 70 mph. I actually drove about 75 mph most of the way. I only got 27 mpg and about 350 miles on one tank. I lost almost 100 miles distant per tank! I couldn’t believe it.
-- Use overdrive gears. Overdrive gears improve the fuel economy of your car during highway driving. Your car's engine speed decreases when you use overdrive. This reduces both fuel consumption and engine wear. Most automatic transmission cars will have an overdrive button right on the gearshift. Look for a “D” and/or “O/D”. You will see a light on the dash indicating weather it’s on or off. Check your owner’s manual to be sure. If your car has a tachometer, you should be able to tell by watching your engine’s rpm speed on the highway. Buy switching the overdrive on, your rpm’s should drop significantly.
-- Use cruise control. For longer trips using cruise control can help you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, reduce your fuel consumption. Set it to 55 mph on highways.
-- Avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration, and improve your fuel economy by 5 to 10 percent. In city driving, nearly 50 percent of the energy needed to power your car goes to acceleration. Go easy on the gas pedal and brakes. "Jack-rabbit" starts and sudden stops are wasteful. Let off the gas early when approaching yellow and red lights, stop signs etc… Most fuel-injected cars will cut off the fuel supply to the engine while you slow down saving you even more gas.
-- Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for a car to reach normal operating temperature. Until then, your car is using almost twice as much fuel to keep the engine running!
-- Remove excess weight from the trunk. Avoid carrying unneeded items, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by one to two percent.
Maintain your car
Keep your engine tuned. Studies have shown that a poorly tuned engine can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 to 20 percent depending on a car's condition. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner's manual; you'll save fuel and your car will run better and last longer.
-- Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned. Under inflated tires on a car is like running on the beach with no shoes. Car manufacturers must place a label in the car stating the correct tire pressure. The label usually is on the edge of the door or doorjamb, in the glove box, or on the inside of the gas cap cover. If the label lists a psi (pounds per square inch) range, use the higher number to maximize your fuel efficiency. Under inflated tires cause fuel consumption to increase by 6%. -- Change your oil. Clean oil reduces wear caused by friction between moving parts and removes harmful substances from the engine. Change your oil as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
-- Check and replace air filters regularly. Your car's air filter keeps impurities in the air from damaging internal engine components. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter improve your fuel economy, it also will protect your engine. Clogged filters can cause up to a 10% increase in fuel consumption. Imagine running up a flight of stairs with only using one nostril in your nose to breath.
Check out gas card offers from gas stations and credit card companies. The can save you an additional 1% to 5% off every gallon or earn you free gas. One of the best cards out there right now can be found http://valueauthority.com/savegas.htm
If you put 20 gallons in your car at $3.00 per gallon, that’s $60. A 5% cash back would save you $3.00 making your effective cost per gallon just $2.85. It’s like getting a free gallon of gas with every fill up!
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