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Jan 272013
 January 27, 2013  Posted by  Cars, Money, Travel
gas pump fuel

It’s unlikely gas prices will go down much in the near future, and if that news has got you down, you should squeeze more miles out of your gasoline dollars by changing how you drive.  According to, you can improve mileage as much as 38% by driving more efficiently and keeping your vehicle maintained properly.

Here are some easy gas saving tips:

Get the junk out of the trunk.  Less weight means better mileage, so don’t use the cargo area as an extra attic. After family vacations, remove all unnecessary items, including that roof-top cargo carrier, which creates wind resistance and lowers mileage.

Use windows wisely. Keep them closed at highway speed, since open windows cause enough drag to reduce mileage by 10%, more than air conditioning.  Open windows in stop-and-go traffic to prevent the air conditioner from working overtime.

Observe speed limits.  Aerodynamic drag increases as speed rises, so 55 mph gives you up to 21% better mileage than driving at 65 mph or more.

Use cruise control.  Braking and accelerating waste fuel, so use cruise control whenever possible to maintain a steady speed.  Similarly, avoid “jackrabbit” accelerating and passing for maximum gas efficiency. If your automatic transmission is equipped with an overdrive gear, switch to it as soon as your speed is high enough. The opposite is true for a manual transmission — the lower the gear, the better the fuel economy.

Avoid excessive engine idling. Save gas by turning off the engine while waiting for friends and family.  Also avoid “reving” the engine, especially just before you switch it off, as this wastes fuel and reduces oil pressure, which further reduces gas mileage.

Keep tires properly inflated according to manufacturer recommendations.  Too much or too little air affects ride comfort, causes tires to wear out faster, and reduces gas mileage by 5%.  A pencil-style tire gauge costs around $1 and a digital version is around $4.  Always check pressure when tires are cold – that means before you leave the driveway or parking lot.

It’s easy to drive smarter and save gas.

Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting on good deals and warning about bad ones, for longer than she cares to admit publicly. A native and lifelong New Yorker, she was the first consumer reporter for CBS News and for WABC TV “Eyewitness News” and helped launch the “Sales and Bargains” column in New York Magazine. Evelyn is the author or editor of more than a dozen travel guidebooks and apps, including Peaceful Places New York City, and owns and operates NYC On The Cheap and EcoXplorer. A long-time tree-hugger, Evelyn also writes about green travel, green cars and saving the green in your wallet for national and regional publications, including a column syndicated by Motor Matters and for, AAA magazines and airline inflights.

  One Response to “Drive smarter to use less gas”

  1. Good ideas. Here are 3 more I saw on the news.

    1. Coast to stop lights instead of flying up to them like most people do. Help preserve your breaks too.

    2. Take off from the lights more easily and evenly rather than zooming off as soon as the light changes.

    3. on days that aren’t too hot, turn off the air conditioner and just use the vent at highway speeds.

    I couldn’t believe how much of a difference doing these alone did for my mileage and adding the others you said made it even better… :-)

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