1. The obvious one: drive less by walking, carpooling, bicycling or taking public transit. Google Maps has an excellent map that makes using mass transit simple and easy.
2. If you have to drive, see if you can combine trips, e.g. run your errands on the way home from work. You can also time your trips during off-peak times to avoid traffic to help you save time and money.
3. Get the junk from the trunk – your vehicle uses more gas with the extra weight. Clean out the car and take out all the stuff you don’t need.
4. Check and maintain proper tire inflation according to manufacturer specifications. A tire pressure gauge only costs a few bucks but will save you a lot of money if you maintain the right tire pressure.
5. Plan your trip for best combination of: shortest distance and minimum traffic congestion. It could be worth a slightly longer route, though, if the shortest route is heavily jammed. Go to Google Maps, input your location and click the box for "Traffic" to see current traffic conditions.
6. Go with the flow – although you want to avoid traffic jams, a freely moving flow of traffic on a highway is better for you gas-wise than an empty road. That’s because the traffic flow creates an aerodynamic wind current.
7. Choose the smoothest roads for the least rolling resistance and less gas usage.
8. Go with good weather, when you can. Driving in rain and snow increases your vehicle’s aerodynamic resistance and lowers your mileage.
9. Close your sunroof at higher speeds. Certain styles of sunroofs, when open, greatly increase drag.
10. Also, at higher speeds, keep your windows closed to reduce drag. Even running your air conditioner (windows closed) may be more fuel-efficient than open windows at 55 mph.
11. Know fuel efficient braking techniques – coast in neutral when you can, to slow down before you brake. But only do this when it’s safe, depending on traffic conditions.
12. When you can, avoid braking at all, by adjusting your speed to follow the traffic flow and take advantage of green lights. Again, you’ll have to adapt to traffic conditions and safety.
13. Barefootin’ – believe it or not, you can save gas by removing your shoes and driving in socks or bare feet. This increases your sensitivity to use the accelerator and brakes at maximum efficiency.
14. Avoid parallel parking in tight spots – all the back-and-forth and maneuvering will use up extra gas. Park a little farther away in an easier spot.
15. In a multi-vehicle household, choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle as often as you can.
16. With an automatic transmission, use "overdrive" or "economy" mode to save fuel; these settings shift the transmission into high gear sooner.
17. In winter, clean snow and ice off your car to reduce wind resistance (as well as improving safety and visibility).
18. In summer, keep air-conditioning use to a minimum. Parking in the shade will help reduce the need for a/c. It also helps to tint your windows to keep your car interior cooler.
19. Maintain appropriate following distance; if you follow too closely, you’ll have to hit the brakes hard to stop. That’s less fuel-efficient and potentially unsafe.
20. Don’t speed. Going fast uses more gas.
21. Avoid roof racks, since they increase drag. For bicycles, get a rear-mounted carrier.
22. Save gas by minimizing use of accessories such as dvd players, interior lights, etc.
23. If you use toll roads and bridge, get EZ Pass, so you won’t burn up gas sitting in tollbooth traffic.
24. Finally, if you own an old gas guzzler, see if you should trade it in for a more fuel efficient model. Check if you qualify for the government’s new "Cash for Clunkers" program. http://www.cars.gov/ This program has been extremely popular and may run out of funding, so act soon.
The amount of the credit is $3,500 or $4,500, and generally depends on the type of vehicle you purchase and the difference in fuel economy between the purchased vehicle and the trade-in vehicle.
Your trade-in vehicle must:
- have been manufactured less than 25 years before the date you trade it in
- have a "new" combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less
- be in drivable condition
- be continuously insured and registered to the same owner for the full year preceding the trade-in
Photo credit via Flickr