Is Filling the Tank Emptying your Wallet?

While gas is not currently at an all time high, it is still expensive. Even someone who does not drive very much is looking at $50 a month or more. Someone who has a medium to a long commute will probably pay several hundred dollars a month. These numbers will vary wildly depending on the state and the car. Fortunately, if you change your habits and the way you think, you can significantly reduce your gas costs, which means more money for other things.

Tips to Reduce Your Gas Consumption

  1. Don’t Drive as Much – So, this may seem really obvious, but it takes planning to reduce the amount of time that you spend in the car. Have you ever caught yourself running one errand one day and then another one a few hours later after you have already gone home? With a little planning, you can consolidate your errands and take care of them at the same time. Try looking at the things that you need to do in a week. If you need to run to the bank, the grocery store, or the mall, you can try to run all of those errands on the same day instead of separate days, and this will reduce your overall gas consumption. Also, when you are shopping for groceries and household items, try to get everything at one store.
  1. Carpool – This one applies to you and the kids. Can you carpool to work? Some larger cities have networks that help you connect with carpool groups in your area. Can you carpool with a spouse? If you work close together, this can help to reduce your overall gas consumption. Can you start a carpool group for your kids? If you join a group, you might have to do some more driving when it is your turn, but the amount of driving will be reduced overall. Also, can your kids ride the bus to and from school? This might be hard for some parents to do, but it will really help with gas costs.
  1. Experiment with Using One Car – If you and your spouse have two cars, you can try just using one car for a week or two to see if you can get by with one car. You should make sure to choose the car that has the best gas mileage. This takes some advance planning because you do not want to get stuck without transportation. This might be hard to accomplish if you have kids, but if you can get by with one car, you might even sell the other car. Even if you do not sell the other car, you can significantly cut the amount of money that goes into gas.
  1. Walk, Bike, Bus – Are any of these options available to you? You might not always be able to walk or bike to work or school, but even doing that during the warmer months or a few days a week will definitely help. If you have access to public transportation, are you using it?
  1. Consider a Motorcycle or Scooter – If you are comfortable driving a motorcycle or scooter or if you want to learn, you might consider purchasing one of these vehicles. They are relatively inexpensive (when compared to most cars), and they get great gas mileage. Smaller scooters and motorcycles average between 80 to 100 mpg. Remember that vehicles that are over 50 cc’s will need a license plate and a motorcycle endorsement on your license (in most states).
  1. Hybrid/Electric Car – While purchasing a hybrid or an electric car might not be a feasible option for some people, it is definitely a way to reduce gas costs. So, if you are considering buying a new car, take a good look at the hybrid options. You can often get good financing and end up with a comparable payment (if for a longer term).

Tips to Improve Your Car’s Mileage

  1. Maintain Your Car – Having your car serviced regularly will ensure that it is performing at its maximum potential, and it will ensure that you are getting the best gas mileage possible.
  1. Lighten Your Load – Remove all the unnecessary objects from your car. The more a car weighs, the less efficient it is in terms of gas mileage. So if you are lugging your barbells around in your trunk, now is a good time to take them inside.
  1. Don’t Speed Up and Slam on the Brakes – Accelerating and braking use up a lot of gas, and if you can reduce the amount of time that you speed up only to slam on the brakes (we are all guilty of this), you can reduce the amount of gas that your car consumes. Try letting your car coast more. For example, try to let off the gas and slow down naturally (for stop signs, etc) before applying the brake.
  1. Don’t Leave Your Car Running – Even if you are just going to run into the store for a minute, it is best to turn off your car. If you are waiting for someone or waiting for a train or anything like that, go ahead and turn the car off. It will save you a lot of gas.
  1. Reduce Your AC Use – Now, it can be difficult to stop using your AC, but if you can reduce the amount of time that you have it on, you will reduce your car’s gas consumption. Try things like parking in the shade or turning the AC off a few minutes before you arrive somewhere. If you are driving around town, why don’t you try lowering your windows?

Do you have any tips or tricks for reducing gas costs?

This post was written by YFS.


Comments

Is Filling the Tank Emptying your Wallet? — 33 Comments

    • I use public transportation when I have to go into the office. It works wonders. When you start biking more you can kill two birds with one stone. Exercise and save money on driving.

  1. The thing with public transportation is that once you get used to it, you won’t miss driving. In fact, you’ll actually start to enjoy the commute, might even pick up a book or two!

  2. Silly question, what is the “break even” point for when turning off the motor is better than leaving it on? It seems like one would use more gas by turning it off and then back on IF the time period is short, so do you know when one choice is better over another?

    • Studies have shown that a car uses more gas when idling. For every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to go about one mile. So you break even pretty fast!

  3. I think one of the biggest factors after maintenance is how you drive the car. I now drive surface streets to work and I try to keep a consistent speed and reduce the number of stops.

    • You’re right.. if you ease into acceleration rather than smashing on the pedal you will have much higher gas mileage. I learned this from driving my prius. The prius has a display unit that tells you instantly how you are doing mpg wise.

  4. Many good tips here… I will caution people about the hybrid cars, however. I work at an auto shop — and they are certainly more expensive to maintain and repair! Go with all the other options to save gas first. If you’re buying a hybrid, it better not be just to save money. Have other reasons to go that route, because what you save in gas, you will spend in maintenance and repair.

    Oh, how I wish I could take the bus. I live too far away from the pickups to make it cost effective. Dangit.

    • I have a Toyota Prius that I brought brand new. It has 86k on it and I have 0 repairs. The only thing I’ve had to do so far was buy new tires. I agree Hybrid cars do not justify the cost unless they provide other benefits. In my case my prius allows me to ride HOV as one person. This shaves 1 hour communting time a day.. well worth the premium

  5. I’ve heard with certain highways, they will allow you to use the HOV lane if you have a hybrid car and are only one person in the car (of course you need to have the sticker on your car before doing this). This can be a huge time saver in a heavy traffic area. Why not save on gas and time :) Not using AC definitely helps me save a lot of money on gas expense.

    • In VA we have highways that allow hybrid vehicles to ride HOV with only 1 person. It saves my wife tons of time in her morning commute. The problem is that here in VA that law is up for elimination every year.

  6. Make sure your tire is properly inflated. Many people let this go and it affect the mpg quite a bit.
    We share one car and our gas bill come in at around $100/month. I don’t know how people can get to $50. :)

  7. I try not to accelerate too fast, and I coast up to red lights and stop signs as much as possible. I haven’t tried to quantify the amount of savings, but I’ve always gotten good mileage with my cars.

  8. Thank god we dont have a car and our land area is around 1.5km where I live (Maldives, Male’). I drive a motorbike and it cost me around Rf. 200 ($13) a month for gas. Maintenance cost is also very low due to the reason our mileage is always very low so dont need maintenance that often.

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