18 Ways to improve your Gas Mileage and Save Money

Everyone nowadays seems to be looking for a way to save money when the get gas at the pump and the best way to do that is simple; improve your gas mileage. Of course, it's never so simple. Or is it? Here's a list of things that should help save you some cash at the pump. Some of them cost nothing, some cost a little bit, but all of them will save you money in the long-term.

Check Your Air Filter-
A clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by nearly 10% and almost 25% of cars need an air filter replacement. Easy to do, and a filter will run you around $10.

Tire Alignment-
Tires that aren't aligned properly will wear away in strange and odd ways, which will lead to premature balding and will cause you to need to buy new tires, which are not exactly cheap. Not only this, but driving on tires that are not aligned correctly forces your engine to work harder to go the same speed, since the tires are fighting against each other while you are driving. Although it may range from $50-100, if you need it-- it is very much worth the cost.

Tire Pressure-
Most people don't realize how much fuel can be eaten up by poorly inflated tires. For a few quarters at the gas station, you can improve your gas mileage by 2.8% on average. In fact, nearly a quarter of Americans on the road have improperly inflated tires. Think about how much less gas we'd use as a nation if everyone did this!

Tune-up-
A tune-up is great for engines; your car will love you for the treatment. You can improve your gas mileage by 4% by spending this money to have it done, or if you're good with car engines, it's around $10-15 in parts. Otherwise, it might run you $75-100. Your car will thank you.

Check your Gas Cap-
It is estimated that nearly 17% of cars on the road have either a missing or damaged gas cap. This can eat up your fuel (okay, think about how quickly gas evaporates when you spill some after you fill up your tank) and can pose a health and environmental risk. Is it worth the $10 for a new gas cap to keep this going? And if you're not sure, check it. You'll be able to tell if it closes correctly by if you feel some sort of suction when you try to loosen it at the pump. This is because of the gas used up creates a pull on it because of less molecules filling up the space in the tank, which will only happen if the gas cap isn't leaking air into your tank.

Slow Down on the Highway-
For every 5 mph on the highway, you can reduce your gas consumption by almost 7%. The optimal speed for most cars is between 40 and 60. Since those aren't really options on today's highway system, 65 instead of 70 or faster is a great way to save fuel. You'll notice on a long road trip if you've been going slow that you'll get at least 30-40 miles more out of a tank of gas than usual.

Acceleration/Deceleration-
This is probably where the most amount of fuel is taken up. Your engine uses more gas to get to a speed than maintain the speed. The quicker you want to get there, the more fuel your engine will eat up. It's simple, really. Just accelerate slower and plan for slowing down when you know there's a red light up ahead. Don't step on the brakes right away; if you can, throw your car into neutral and try to ride it out to the light, or just don't step on the gas or brakes far before the lights so your car naturally slows down. This adds up much more quickly than you'd expect.

Riding the brakes-
This is another simple one. Don't ride the brakes. It burns out your brake pads and is just a huge waste of fuel. If you see a drop coming, downshift or throw the car in neutral and let it slow down before hitting the drop; you'll gain speed and you won't have to apply the brakes as quickly. Try to apply them in chunks instead of over the entire drop.

Pure gas over ethanol-
As much as people love the thought of an alternative fuel, it has very bed long term affects. Ethanol burns at a lower heat, so less of the gunk in the engine is likely to not burn away, cause eventual engine seizing-- then it's time to get a new car. Not only this, it is not as efficient in running cars (if you've been keeping track, your gas mileage dropped suddenly once they added ethanol to the gas pumps). If you live on a state line with a state that doesn't require pumps to use ethanol, go to the states not requiring it, your engine will love you for it.

Clean your car-
For every extra 100 pounds in your car, you lose 1-2% of your gas efficiency. Time to get rid of the tools you carry around; or maybe the extra fold-out chairs and books that you carry around because you just have no where better to put them. It's pretty easy to remove about 40 pounds of waste that's sitting in your car (primarily your trunk), so there's no reason not to when it could be saving you money.

Don't leave your engine idle-
Simple, turn off your car if you're stuck in traffic that's not moving or waiting for your a friend grabbing something inside. Any time you're waiting more than 30 seconds, the amount of gas used is more than the amount of gas spent to start your car. In fact, in newer cars-- it's very possible that even 5-10 seconds of idleness would cost more than turning off and then turning on your engine; however, I don't know how good that would be for your car engine. Along with this, in the winter you don't need to warm up your engine. Cars today do not have many of the problems we grew up knowing about.

Park in the shade-

There's more to just making your car more comfortable for when you get in when you put your car in the shade. "If you let your car bake in the sun there's going to be a greater amount of evaporative emissions that take place than if you park in the shade," says Jim Kliesch, research associate at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and vehicle analyst for greenercars.com.

Fil up with lower octane gas-

Unless your car absolutely requires it, use the lower octane gas; the quality and performance of your engine won't be affected. The only time you should use it is when you want to clean your engine from gunk, because higher octane gas will burn hotter and clean away all the stuff that has built up.

Use the Right Oil-

If you use the factory recommended grade oil, your mileage should improve 1-2% from where it is using another type. Chances are the oil costs no more to you, so it makes sense to just keep track of what type of oil your car requires.

Cut back on the A/C-

I know it seems painful, but try rolling down the window when you're driving around town instead of cranking up the A/C, This is just an unnecessary strain on your car engine and lessens your gas mileage. However, if you're on the highway, your AC on low may give you more gas efficiency than having the windows down.

Compare prices-

Shop around for your gas using either your friends or Gasbuddy.com to see which stations seem to have the lowest prices.

Trade-in your SUV-

Trade in your car or truck for a smaller car; or possibly consider buying a motorcycle or Vespa (if it is worth it, of course).

And last but not least: Carpool. As much as people hate it, it's probably the easiest way to save money on trips.

Hopefully this list has helped you spot some ways to save yourself some money when driving every day!

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