UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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What can you do to save gas? When driving is concerned, it may be more than you think. Small changes in driving practices can make a big difference in fuel economy. Take a look at some of the changes you can make to lower those gas bills and practice good driving habits at the same time.
Type of Car
First, understand that every car handles a little differently on the road. The heavier a vehicle is – like a truck or a van – the more gas it will use. For these vehicles, lessening the load and practicing slow acceleration may be the most effective. Larger vehicles also tend to use more gas because their shapes create awkward, interfering air streams. For these large or awkward (think bike rack) shapes, driving slow may work best.
Of course, some things are beyond your control. Smaller engines and fuel injection technology can both save gas, but may require a new car purchase. If you are thinking about replacing your car, buy a hybrid or a sedan, which regularly make it on the most fuel efficient lists. If you plan on keeping your car, then adjust your driving habits to your environment in order to take advantage of gas savings wherever possible.
- Ease up: City driving can be aggravating, but don’t give in to those aggressive tendencies. Aggressive driving techniques in general can lower gas mileage by up to 5 percent on city streets and far more on the highway. Practice stress-free driving.
- Slow acceleration: While you may have work hours to meet and traffic to shoulder through, don’t lean on the gas pedal when the light turns green. Sudden acceleration can use up to a third more gas than a slow start.
- Plan it out: As you may have guessed, traffic jams and rush hours can waste a significant amount of gas. Whenever possible, plan times and routes that take you away from traffic and onto open streets. Sometimes a longer driving time can actually save gas if you avoid the starts and stops of rush hour.
- Combine trips: If you have several chores to do that require driving, pack them all together in one trip rather than making separate, gas-guzzling trips for each mission.
- No drive through: Driving neighborhoods like suburbs and areas where there is little traffic make driving far less stressful, but be careful how you indulge. Going through drive-thru sections at fast food or the bank can waste gas just like traffic jams can.
- No unnecessary idling: Idling in traffic is unavoidable, but in calmer neighborhoods cut the idling down. Don’t wait with the car running outside of grocery stores or post offices, even for a few minutes. Turn the car off and save gas.
- Steady speeds: Try not to speed up and slow down in the suburbs, no matter how the traffic signs change. A steady driving speed with help save gas without making much of a time difference. When in doubt, slow down.
- Brake less: Hard or frequent braking also cuts deep into the gas budget. Fortunately, if you practice slow and steady speeds, hard braking shouldn’t be too much of a problem – but keep an eye on your corners and red light stops just in case.
Driving Rural, Driving Highway
- Cut the weight: For long drives on highways, interstates, and back roads, weight can make a big difference. Vehicles are estimated to be carrying 300 pounds during testing. Carry more, and your gas use will be very inefficient. Carry less, and you can save. Try to empty out your trunk and back seats at least once a week.
- Cruise control: For long drives, cruise control has proven effective at saving gas when used effectively. Set a speed and use cruise control to keep to it for an extended period of time.
- Weather plans: Poor weather like rain, snow, or heavy winds can decrease gas efficiency. If you have a choice, drive in good weather to increase safety and lower gas expenses at the same time.
- Let the road help: If you encounter hills, use them to your advantage. Let momentum pick up going downhill to gain speed, instead of using the gas pedal. This can supersede cruise control in rolling terrain.