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How to Get Better Gas Mileage and Save Some Cash


asoline prices keep rising and every month it seems as if you’re shelling out more at the pumps than the month before. Before you trade in your car for one of those electric scooters, be aware that the way you drive affects the gas your car uses. With regular car maintenance and a few simple tips, you could save as much as a tank of gas a month. Not only will you save cash, but a well-maintained car is safer, emits less pollution, and has a longer life span. 

aDRIVE TO SAVE GAS. This means you should drive smoothly, curtailing acceleration and braking as much as possible, which will reduce your mileage. “Jackrabbit” starts are another gas-eater — it reduces fuel efficiency by 2 mph in city traffic. Smooth out your driving style by accelerating and decelerating gradually. To do this, you must be able to anticipate stops and starts. In other words, pay attention and think ahead.

aSTOP IDLING. Minimize or entirely eliminate idling time: it not only uses up gas, but it returns 0 miles per gallon for your buck. Not only that, but it adds to pollution. And forget about letting your car idle for 5 or 10 minutes before you take off. This is the new millennium — cars no longer need to be warmed up, unless you happen to live in the Arctic.

aLIGHTEN UP. Eliminating any unnecessary weight from your car will save you 1-2% on mileage for every 100 pounds removed from your car. So get rid of that 50 pound sack of fertilizer and the home gym in your trunk.

aWATCH THE WEATHER. If possible, be a miser when it comes to starting your car in cold weather. Most engine wear occurs during the first 10 seconds of a cold start. On the other side of the equator, try to limit your air conditioning use, especially in traffic and on steep hills. 

aLIGHTEN UP ON THE ACCELERATOR. Above 55 mph, gas mileage decreases. The best gas mileage is between 35-55 mph. I’ll do the math for you — if you drive 55 mph instead of 70 mph, you can travel five miles more on the same gallon of gas. That translates into saving from $5 t0 $10 an hour. If your car is equipped with overdrive, use it as soon as your speed is high enough. This puts less stress on your engine while boosting fuel economy. If your transmission is manual, the sooner you shift to a higher gear without causing your engine to buck, the better your fuel economy will be.

aDON’T LET YOUR CAR BECOME A GAS-EATER. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Tires with low pressure create drag, which cuts mileage as much as 3 to 4 miles per gallon. So, make it a habit to check your pressure monthly. Other useful tips can help. Use a multi-grade oil, which reduces engine wear during cold starts. Check the air filter at least twice a year because a clogged filter cuts off the engine’s air supply. In turn, this causes a higher fuel-to-air ration that reduces gas mileage. And keep an eye on your gas consumption — a sudden increase may indicate a need for a tune-up or repair. Take your car in about every 10,000 miles. An out-of-tune vehicle has to work harder, use more fuel. and prematurely wears out the engine and other components.

aDON’T USE MORE OCTANE THAN YOU NEED. You may think you’re treating your car by occasionally filling up with premium gas, but all you’re really doing is wasting money and creating more pollution. Unless your owner’s manually specifically demands premium gas, DON’T go near it. Regular gas is much less expensive and much kinder to the atmosphere.

aCONSIDER CARPOOLING. I know this sounds radical, but its benefits in terms of saving both cash and gas is obvious. If this seems worse than root canal, consider public transportation. Even if you use the bus or train once or twice a week, you’ll be cutting down on the wear and tear on your car.

Changing your driving and maintenance habits can make a noticeable difference. Try it for just one month — and watch your gas use drop!


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