How To Dominate The Gas Pump

There are few things that we, as consumers, can do to get the most out of that pesky gas pump. Follow these tips, and save a little green.

Auto Maintenance

  • Increasing air flow. A new study done by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on behalf of the US Department of Energy shows that replacing your car's air filter under normal replacement conditions, will increase fuel efficiency by 2-6 percent. If the filter is severely clogged, then it can increase efficiency up to 14 percent. (Replacing the air filter on newer, fuel injected cars does not increase fuel efficiency, but does increase acceleration time by 6-11 percent).
  • Check your tire pressure. Keeping your tires inflated to the manufacturer's recommended pressure is not only safer, but they last longer, and will increase your fuel efficiency by 3.3 percent. (The proper pressure is indicated in your owner's manual, on the inside of the drivers door jam, or on the inside the glove compartment door).
  • Change your oil to the manufacturer's recommended grade will increase efficiency by 1-2 percent.

Driving Behavior

  • Park the car. If you live near the places you'll be going to, then try walking or biking instead of driving. Who couldn't use a little more excercise and money? If your destination is farther away, look into public transportation. Try the train, or the bus. If that's out of the question, then see if there's someone you can share the ride with.
  • Follow the speed limit. Optimal gas mileage rapidly decreases at speeds above 60mph. Also sudden rapid acceleration, and sudden stopping, along with speeding, will reduce your fuel efficiency by 33 percent on the highway, and five percent in town.
  • Get the junk out of the trunk. Increased weight can reduce your mpg by 2 percent. So, remove heavy items that you don't need to carry on a daily basis, like sports equipment or tools. (This is relevant to smaller cars, more than larger ones).
  • Avoid idling. An idle engine gets 0 mpg, so if you're going to be in a long standing situation, like behind a recent traffic accident, or waiting for your spouse to come out of the drug store, it's better to turn the engine off.
  • Roll up the windows. (does anybody even have a hand crank anymore?) Put the windows up when driving at highway speeds, to reduce drag, and thus increase mpg.
  • One Stop Shopping. If you have to run several errands in the day, can you possibly kill more than one bird with your car, so to speak? Try the Super Walmart, Super Target, or any other store where you can pick up groceries and other essential home care items, fill prescriptions, develop or alter photos, purchase home decor and clothing. Or perhaps stop at a local strip mall where you can park once, and walk to several retailers. It saves gas and time.

Filling Up

  • Fill your tank in the morning, when the temperatures are cooler. Gasoline molecules expand in the heat, and you'll actually get less liquid in your tank, if you fill up in the hotter parts of the day.
  • Don't let your tank run dry. Refill before you get down to a quarter tank. Sludge and debris can build up in the bottom of your gas tank, and begin to get pulled into the engine, clogging it up. Also, the agitation caused by the new gas spilling in can stir, up these deposits.
  • Avoid the tanker truck. When you see the tanker truck at the filling station, drive right on by. Just like in your car's tank, the huge gas tanks at the station have sludge and debris settling on the bottom. As the tanker pours fresh gas into the holding tank, the deposits get stirred up, and will end up in your own tank! Let those tanks settle for a few hours before you make a purchase.
Use this site to find the station in your area that currently has the lowest price of gas...

resources for this information include:
  2. "Effect of Intake Air Filter Condition on Vehicle Fuel Economy" by The Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  3. numerous email forwards
  4. Advice from gas station attendants

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