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With high gas prices seemingly here to stay, Frugalites, here are some tips to help you save money on gas at your local filling station. A previous article discussed gas savings from using gas additives. This article will discuss other ways to save on gas. While you may be doing some of these already, I hope you will find some new tips to lengthen your trips to the pump.
Check your owner’s manual to save money on gas
Just like preventative medicine for humans, preventative maintenance for your vehicle can keep it running great and prevent problems.
Check your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance at certain intervals or when you reach certain mileage thresholds. While you may not want to put your hard-earned cash into this if money is tight, it can actually save you money in the long run. Here, having a good mechanic you trust can help you sort out what is optional and what is required.
Use the lowest viscosity oil
Make sure you are running the lowest viscosity oil that your manual recommends. For example, if your manual recommends 10W-30 and you are running 5W-30, you may be able to reduce your fuel consumption by 1-2 percent just by switching to the less viscous oil. Do not assume your mechanic knows the best oil for you if you have an older vehicle or one that is unusual. My 20 year old Nissan Sentra, Rosie, took such an unusual viscosity of oil that I used to buy it myself for my oil changes to make sure she got what she needed.
Change the air filter when needed
Another item to check in your owner’s manual is how often to change the air filter. Your car’s engine needs oxygen for combustion. A clogged air filter hampers this. Air filters are not generally expensive. I changed mine in Rosie for the first time without any help.
Keep tires properly inflated
Want to save up to 8 cents per gallon at the gas pump? Check the pressure in your tires. Do this regularly, as changes in temperature affect the pressure in your tires. Make this easy on yourself. Do you have a tire pressure gauge in your glove box? What about a 12V powered air compressor so that you can quickly fill a tire that’s a bit low. Tire pressure matters: a dip of around 7.5 pounds will cost you around 2.8 percent of your mileage. It all adds up!
Pay attention to your car’s alignment
On a safe and straight stretch of road, check your alignment. Look down briefly at the steering wheel while you are going straight. Is it exactly centered? Do you feel your car pulling to one side or the other? Driving on road with potholes, for example, can easily play havoc with your alignment. We all make mistakes, too. Did you hit or drive over a curb lately? Have you noticed a change in the alignment? If you car is not well aligned, it is working too hard. You can be losing up to 10 percent of your mileage, possible 28 cents per gallon. Ouch!
Be a smooth operator to save money on gas
The cars of today have been designed to drive best at 50 mph. If you are able to use your cruise control or good driving skills to drive steadily at this speed, you can save yourself up to six percent of your fuel usage. Similarly, “rapid acceleration and braking can rob as much as 40% of your vehicle’s gas mileage.” While traffic conditions are often out of your control, you do your best with what you have.
Check that gas cap
An estimated 17 percent of cars have a missing or broken gas cap. You can’t burn your gas in your car if it’s evaporating into the air! Gas caps are a less expensive fix….and the savings could be up to 2 cents per gallon.
Get your junk out of that trunk
OK, guilty as charged. I drive a small car and it’s often filled with stuff for the homestead…bags of manure and such. However, if you happen to have some extra stuff in your trunk that you’re not using…just get it out of there and you’ll save gas for certain.
Winter tires on only when needed
Living in an area with a pretty extreme winter, I change to winter tires as soon as the temperature dips below 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit). Because snow tires are made with a softer rubber making contact with the road, you don’t want to be driving with them in warmer temperatures. This will only force your car to work harder, as the winter tires are not designed to grip dry warm roads. So, using your winter tires only when you need them is going to save you gas money.
Consider updating your old gem to save money on gas
I do not want to appear disloyal to my old gem of a car, Rosie. However, I feel I must share this new information about my new car, Lucky.
Rosie (2001 Nissan Sentra) and Lucky (2011 Toyota Corolla) have the same size gas tank of 50 L (around 11 gallons). On one tank of gas, Rosie could go 440 kilometers (275 miles) using a gas additive and Lucky can go a whopping 650 kilometers (over 400 miles) without any gas additive. The same amount of gas! I find that incredible. I can only assume, as they are the same class of car, that Lucky’s improved gas mileage is due to improved technology in the ten years after Rosie was built.
So, having bought Lucky for a very reasonable price, I am now getting basically an extra 50% out of every tank of gas. Especially now with gas prices so high, I am saving big. This has been a big help.
Fuel for thought to save money on gas
Higher gas prices are adding to everyone’s monthly expenses. Could you see yourself trying any of these tips to save at the gas pump? Do you have another one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.