6 Easy Ways to Save Money on Gas

6 Easy Ways to Save Money on Gas© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you can’t get your hands on a hybrid, fear not. Here are simple steps you can take to go much farther in a regular car. In fact, simply maintaining your car can improve mileage by 19 percent. In its most extreme form, gas savings is called “hypermiling” or the art of wringing every last ounce of fuel efficiency out of any car. Many of the techniques embraced by hard-core hypermilers (who tend to be 20-something zealots who are obsessed with wringing every last ounce of performance from their cars) don’t meet the average person’s common sense requirements in terms of comfort and safety (they coast down long hills with the engine off, for example). But many others are common sense approaches to making your gas purchases good to the last drop. Here are a few to get you going.

1. Go forward.

Always park so that you can pull forward rather than waste gas backing up. This can improve your mileage 25 percent (some experts say this might be an underestimate)!

2. Go the speed limit.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that by following the speed limit and swearing off aggressive driving (rapid acceleration and deceleration), drivers can improve mileage by anywhere from 12 to 55 percent. Edmunds.com tested the idea and got similar results. They also found that using cruise control improved mileage by an additional 7 percent.

3. Stop idling.

This leads to mileage improvements of up to 19 percent. If you’re going to be at a standstill for 10 seconds or more, say at the drive-through lane at a fast-food joint or an outdoor deposit at a bank, it’s better to cut the engine and do your business inside.

4. Warm up with a long drive.

Modern cars don’t become fully efficient until the engine is warmed up, so if you plan on running a series of errands, drive to the farthest location first and then work your way back — a series of short stop-and-start trips will never allow your car to reach maximum efficiency.

5. No junk in your trunk!

For every 30 pounds of extra weight your car carries, miles per gallon decreases by anywhere from one-tenth to one-hundredth of a percent. That may not seem like much, but mile per mile it adds up. So de-clutter your car!

6. Avoid hard stops and starts.

Rapid acceleration and hard braking, completely avoidable actions, just throw gas away. Instead of braking hard at a red light, coast from a distance. Come to stops slowly and gradually (if there is no one behind you, coast to the red light if you can).

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