As of July 2022, the average gas price in the U.S. is about $4.50/gallon. In some states, the numbers are shocking. In LA County, it’s not unusual to see prices over $6, and some gas stations have even passed the $7 mark. Before you start powerwalking to work on the side of the 405, try these tips to save gas and lower your monthly transportation expenses.
Never Leave the Engine Idling
Leaving the car in the driveway with the AC on while you finish getting ready for work or running back inside for a few minutes is a huge waste of gas. In addition to literally burning money, leaving your car running for more than a minute or two while not in use produces unnecessary greenhouse gasses.
Don’t Be a Lead Foot
Accelerating quickly is another gas-wasting habit. The harder you hit the gas, the more fuel you waste. Speed up gradually to optimize fuel efficiency and save gas. It’s less fun but much more practical.
To Save Gas, Try to Maintain an Even Pace
Sudden starts and stops use more gas than driving steadily, so avoid abrupt stops as much as you can. Stop and go traffic makes this challenging, so increase your following distance to reduce the impact of city traffic on your gas station receipt.
Slow Down on the Freeway
The most fuel-efficient speed to drive is between 40-65 mph. It’s a physics thing. When you drive faster than that, the increased win resistance makes your car work harder to overcome it, thereby using more fuel. Aside from being illegal, driving at a speed of 85 mph uses 40% more fuel than driving at 70 mph.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Are your tires feeling a little flat? Check your car’s manual to find out what the optimal tire pressure for your vehicle is. Driving on slightly underinflated tires won’t cause any major problems overnight, but it will force you to fill up your tank a little more often. Underinflated tires can raise fuel use by up to 3%, so it’s worth checking tire pressure every few weeks just in case.
Don’t Carry Unnecessary Cargo
If you have a stroller tossed in the trunk, a bike rack, workout gear, or pretty much anything else that adds weight to your vehicle, unload it, stat. It’s not uncommon for people to use trunk space for extra storage when your garage is already packed but avoid the temptation. The more weight your car is carrying the less fuel efficient it is. Just bring what you need that day, and leave the rest at home.
Avoid the AC When Possible
Air conditioning increases fuel use regardless of how fast you’re going. It’s a toss-up whether or not rolling down the windows is much better, but try to limit AC use as much as you can. This also helps prevent your car from overheating when you’re stuck in traffic in hot weather.
Save Gas by Consolidating Trips
Every car ride uses gas, even if it’s just running out to pick up the gallon of milk you forgot. Plan out errands so that you can get as many of them done at one time without making an extra trip to the store. It’s also a good idea to plan your route strategically to avoid crisscrossing all over town.
Avoid Gas Stations Near the Freeway
It stinks, but gas stations near freeways always jack up their prices. Why? Because they can. People on road trips or anyone who’s late for work and out of gas will take any gas they can get, even if it’s pricier. Figure out which gas station has the lowest prices in your area and go there instead.
Don’t Procrastinate Filling Up
Speaking of overpaying, don’t be one of those people who go to an overpriced freeway spot just because you have one mile until empty. When the needle dips below a quarter of a tank, it’s time to fill up. That way, you have time to make it to a more affordable gas station.
In case you missed it, topping off the tank is also a habit worth giving up. Gas prices should, fortunately, come back down soon. In the meantime, following these tips can only help.