I used to drive 120 miles a day, 5 days a week. For 3 years. No, I didn’t have some weird driving addiction or a social anxiety condition that forced me to be in a confine space 10 hours a week. I happened to be living in a place that made sense at the time and got a job that was everything I needed a job to be, except it was 60 miles away. So I drove my Toyota Corolla back and forth between the two. I realize most people don’t do that much driving but what I learned can help anyone who wants to save on gas.
1) Tire Pressure is really important. I think it has to do something with the fact that if your tires are under inflated your engine has to do more work to push your car down the road. To check this all you need to do is buy a tire gauge and remove the cap from the stem on your tire. Push the gauge on to the stem and see what the gauge tells you. If you don’t know what your tire pressure should be, it’s written right on the tire! Somewhere it says “PSI “ and then a number in raised letters on the tire. If it the pressure isn’t what it should be add (or remove) air until it is. While you are at it, check your spare tire. Trust me, it’s much easier to do that in your driveway at home than find out you should have on the side of the road. You need to check your pressure at least 2 times a year, when the temperature changes (think spring and fall).
2) Put in a new air filter once a year. Your engine sucks in air to operate. If it can’t get the amount of air it needs easily, it has to work harder thus using more gas. To do this, go to an auto parts store and tell them you need an air filter for your make, model and engine type (if you don’t know your engine type, they will help you figure it out, God bless ’em). Mine is located on top of the engine and to install it all I have to do is open 2 clasps and flop the filter housing box open and put it in. Check your manual to see where yours is.
3) Don’t carry extra weight. That case of water, those golf clubs, that box of books you meant to take back to the library all are things your car doesn’t need to haul. Leave them at home if you don’t need them on this trip.
4) Have your engine tuned up as often as the manual says. If the engine is running like it is supposed to, it will use waste less fuel.
5) Don’t speed. Going faster uses more gas.
6) Take the most direct route for your trips. I have a list of all the places I need to go and I plan a “great circle route.” I do my best not to backtrack over any area I have already been, leaving the grocery store for last (so the ice cream doesn’t get too soft). Not only does this save me fuel but it also made me feel efficient which is always good.
7) Avoid idling. It’s horrible for gas economy! Those of us who live in cold areas often warm up the car before we go. A minute or 2 is okay, 5 is too long. Just buy warmer gloves. This holds true for stop and go traffic too.
Other stuff I learned about making driving better:
1) Keep a snack in the glove box. It will save you from falling in to the drive-thru trap until you can get home.
2) Get books on tape from your library. I listened to more books than I ever would have read otherwise. Make sure they are unabridged. I would start with the Harry Potters if you have never listened to one. They are fantastic!
3) Fill up when you are ½ full. 2 reasons. The first has to do with getting stuck in a snow bank and freezing to death (I know it won’t happen but still……) and the other has to do with the fact that gas prices aren’t going down. Why not have the joy of a full tank and save yourself 8 cents between now and next time you fill up?
4) Use Rain-X on your windows. I love this product. Buy a bottle (not the wipes) and some paper towels and put it on every other month. You can ignore the temp range for application. It makes rain slide off your glass; it makes bugs wash right off and best of all IT MAKES ICE EASIER TO SCRAPE. Need I say more?
5) Use gas station free stuff to your advantage. Find the station that give you free coffee with a fill up and apply for the company credit card that gives you a gas discount. I got 6 micro fiber cloths from Shell in March for purchases of gas.
6) Turn your headlights on if you are driving. Please. I can tell you it makes a huge difference in being able to see you coming. It won’t cost you a thing but it could save your life.