Monday, June 14, 2010

Three Changes to Save Big on Gas

Three Changes to Save Big on Gas
Tim Gamble

Change the way you maintain your vehicle. Instead of thinking about vehicle maintenance as a chore that is easily put off, look forward to it as an opportunity to save big money. Here are some things you should be doing on a regular basis, being sure to check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommendations for your specific vehicle:

  1. Make sure your tires are properly inflated (check weekly).
  2. Check tire rotation & balance (every six months).
  3. Change oil & oil filter (typically every 3000 - 5000 miles).
  4. Change the air filter (yearly or as needed).
  5. Service the fuel injection system (yearly or according to owner's manual).
  6. Change the fuel filter (yearly or as needed).
  7. Get a tune-up (yearly or according to owner's manual).
  8. Service transmission (yearly or according to owner's manual).
  9. Replace faulty emissions components and oxygen sensor (as needed).
  10. Have front end aligned (as needed).

Change the way you drive. Be more peaceful and relaxed in your driving style, confident that doing so will save you lots of money. Fast and aggressive driving results in significantly lowered gas mileage. Also, the less weight and wind resistance you drive with, the better your gas mileage will be. Here are some tips:

  1. Leave early enough so that you don't have to rush to get where you are going.
  2. Don't speed. Drive at least five mph under the speed limit & never exceed 55 mph.
  3. Use cruise control whenever possible.
  4. Drive evenly. Avoid jack-rabbit starts & sudden stops. Don't weave in & out of traffic.
  5. Whenever possible, don't accelerate uphill and coast downhill.
  6. Avoid rush-hour traffic whenever possible to avoid time idling.
  7. Cut off the engine whenever you will be stopped for at least a minute.
  8. Clean out the trunk. Less weight means better gas mileage.
  9. Remove rooftop carriers. Less wind resistance means better gas mileage.
  10. Generally speaking, use the air conditioner only for highway driving (over 45 mph with few stops) and roll your windows down when driving around town (under 45 mph with lots of stops).

Change why you drive. Don't think about driving as a wonderful convenience, instead look on it as a means of last resort. Enjoy the fact that whenever you don't drive, you are saving lots of money. Driving less is simply the best way to conserve gas. Here are some tips for driving less:

  1. Avoid driving whenever possible. Instead walk, bike, or take a bus or train.
  2. Join or start a car pool to work, or consider telecommuting if it is possible for your job.
  3. Share a ride with a neighbor to the market, church or school.
  4. Don't fall for society's obsession with being constantly "on the go." There is nothing wrong with staying at home, and your kids don't have to be enrolled in organized activities every day of the week.
  5. Learn to get much of your entertainment at home. Start a family game night. Get together with the neighbors for a weekend cookout or a video night.
  6. Plan ahead and combine errands so that you make fewer trips.
  7. Use lists & stock up on items you frequently use so that you don't have to make a special trip just to pick up something you forgot or unexpectedly ran out of.
  8. Long commute? Consider getting a job closer to home or moving closer to work.

Of all the tips listed here, the most effective is to simply drive less. The next best is driving less aggressively and much slower.