Monday, May 28, 2007

5 Tips for saving $$$ at the gas pump.

Lower octane. Higher octane fuels don't do a thing for your fuel economy. Don't get fished in by oil companies' insistence that you get better performance with higher octane fuels, either. The performance gains are slight. Besides, are you driving to work or trying to lap Kurt Busch?

Check your tires. Under-inflated tires make more surface contact with the road, and so offer more resistance to your engine. Driving around on under-inflated tires can impact your fuel efficiency by as much as 15%. Carry a tire gauge in your glove box and check your tire pressure about once a month.

Replace your air-filter. Your car's air-filter gets clogged with road dirt, dust, and bugs. Sucking air through that mess makes your engine work harder. You can save a few bucks on labor if you buy the filter at an auto parts store and replace the filter yourself.

Regular maintenance. Your engine won't seize up if you go over 3,000 miles without an oil change, but your fuel efficiency will certainly start to degrade. I recommend you get to know how to change your own oil. It only takes about 15 minutes and you can save up to $100/year on labor.

Slow down! The simplest advice is usually the best advice. You might have heard that those studies on fuel economy done in the 1970's (that led to the national 55 MPH speed limit) don't apply to today's cars. Well, they do. No amount of German engineering can overcome the law of conservation of energy. Your car weighs a ton or more. It takes a certain amount of energy to propel your car 60 MPH. It takes more energy to propel your car faster.


2 bonus ways to save.

Carpool. The benefits of carpooling are often overlooked. Check with your employer's HR department to find out if they can set you up with a group in your neighborhood.

Buy a scooter. Motorcycles and hybrid vehicles certainly save on gas, but they're expensive. The point isn't just to save gas, but to save money. You can add a scooter to your family fleet for under $1000 (visit www.halfpricescooters.com for details). If you have a short commute and don't mind looking a little nerdy, consider the 100 MPG benefit of scooter travel. The downside? I wouldn't even consider driving one of these on the highway.


Have I overlooked any great ways to save at the pump? Leave a comment and let us know.

1 comment:

Valencia said...

Thanks for writing this.