Since 2000, the average price for a gallon of gas has jumped nearly 70% — and in some parts of the U.S., the spike is even higher. That’s the bad news.
The good news, is that there are surprisingly easy ways to make your car more fuel efficient and save anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year. Here are 7 hacks to help you spend less time at the pump, and keep more money in your wallet:
- Lighten the Load
If you’re like many drivers, you lug around all kinds of stuff in your back seat or trunk — everything from a 50 pound bag of dog food that you’ll “get around to taking out sooner or later” (yeah, that’s what you said last week!), to a stack of overdue library books (that get more overdue by the day). The problem here isn’t a matter of mess: it’s a matter of gas mileage. Simply put, the lighter your vehicle, the less fuel you’ll need to get from point A to point B.
- Don’t Idle
Idling your vehicle isn’t just terrible for the environment, but it’s a total waste of money (like buying an ultra-cheap toaster, or hiring amateur “handymen” to do a modern office design renovation instead of a professional organization). For example, idling for 15 minutes can burn through a quarter of a gallon of gas.
- Regularly Check Your Tires
Under-inflated and worn out tires don’t just pose a safety risk to you and other drivers (and pedestrians, animals, mailboxes, and anything else that might come across your path), but they waste a great deal of fuel since the tires are forced to spin faster than they should. Check your air pressure at least once a month — and more frequently during the winter — and inspect your tires on a regular basis. Also keep in mind that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends changing all four tires at least once every six years, regardless of the number of miles driven.
- Don’t Go “Pedal to the Metal”
Unless it’s necessary (e.g. merging on the freeway), avoid sharply accelerating as this consumes significantly more gas than a smooth, gradual acceleration.
- Minimize Air Conditioner Use — Most of the Time
Average fuel consumption increases 15% when the air conditioner is turned on. However, if you’re driving on the freeway, then opening the windows will put a drag on your vehicle that will also reduce fuel efficiency. It could also be dangerous if a rock or other debris is hurled towards you at a high rate of speed. So, go ahead and use air conditioning when you’re driving faster, and switch to good old fashioned wind power when you’re driving slower.
- Don’t Go Fast and Furious
Driving the speed limit doesn’t just make you safer and give you more control, but it also reduced fuel consumption vs. speeding (plus, you don’t risk getting a pricey speeding ticket and having your insurance rates go up!).
- Avoid Rush Hour Whenever Possible
Here’s another reason why it’s worth getting up an extra half an hour early to avoid rush hour: stop-and-go traffic is murder on your car’s engine and overall fuel usage. In just a few months, you might save enough money to enjoy a vacation (if so, then be sure to check out these hacks to save money on your hotel bill).