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47 Secret Fuel-Saving Tips – The Ultimate Guide for Drivers’

Gasoline prices are cripplingly high meaning that drivers need to quickly find the easiest and smartest ways to get more miles for their buck.

So to help drivers save money filling up I have compiled a comprehensive list of fuel-saving measures that experienced drivers employ but rarely share with other road users.

Some measures may seem small and insignificant but the real secret is that when added together these measures can improve your vehicle’s average fuel economy by up to 20%!

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Fuel-Saving Tips –
Driving Style

Good news – If you can alter your driving style and are ready to create a few new habits you can easily minimize your fuel expenditure and maximize your fuel efficiency.

1. Remove excess weight.

fuel-saving-empty-car-trunk
Keep your trunk empty. Carrying extra weight will increase fuel consumption costing you more at the pump.

An extra 100 lbs in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by about 1%. (approximately $0.05 gallon

This percentage is relative to the vehicle so a small vehicle with a small engine will experience a larger reduction in MPG.

2. Use The Vehicle 30 Second warm Up Rule.

Modern cars are computer-controlled, fuel-injected beasts that only need a 30-second or less warm-up in cold weather.
That’s about the time it takes for everybody to strap in and in warmer climates, the vehicle won’t need a warm-up at all.

By driving the car gently after you have turned it on, the engine will warm up quicker, use less fuel, and produce fewer emissions.

3. choose The Correct Octane Fuel.

Using a lower octane fuel than recommended can cause the engine to run poorly, may damage the engine, and as a result, will fuel economy will suffer.
Using a higher octane fuel offers little to no benefit in fuel economy but may reduce your CO2 emissions slightly.

85 Octane has no beneficial effect on modern gasoline engines, (even at altitude) and should be avoided.

4. Avoid Excessive Idling.

Starting an engine typically uses about 10 seconds of fuel and a vehicle running at idle is busily consuming fuel but going nowhere.
So if you are, (or are going to be) parked safely for more than 10 seconds you should consider turning your engine off and saving the gas.

In addition, if your vehicle is iced over, you should use the fuel-saving measure of using a scraper or de-icer to clear the glass rather than your engine and heating system.

Surprisingly, idling can use up to half a gallon of fuel per hour, depending on factors such as engine size, weather conditions, and A/C use.

5. Don’t Be A Drag racer.

Always pull away gradually and avoid jackrabbit starts.
Abrupt, fast, and getaway-type starts will require about twice as much fuel as a controlled gradual start.

6. Drive smoothly Not Aggressively.

Aggressive driving – rapid acceleration, speeding, hard braking, and wheel-spinning all waste precious gas.
In fact, aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by 15% to 30% on highways and up to 40% in stop-go traffic.

So be mellow, try to accelerate smoothly, and ease off the gas where possible to help lower your fuel consumption.

7. Use your Fuel- Saving stop/start Feature

Modern vehicles have stop/start devices fitted to them to turn the engine off whenever the vehicle is stopped and idling.
The stop-start device was added to vehicles to increase fuel economy and lower environmental impact as a vehicle can be parked at stoplights for an average of between 45 to 120 seconds.
As an engine only requires about 10 seconds of fuel to start, the stop-start device can save up to 110 seconds of fuel and emissions at most stoplights.

Do not perform this operation manually with old or classic cars as the starter may be too weak to handle dozens of starts per day.

8. Anticipate – try not to lose momentum.

When driving in hilly conditions you should take advantage of gravity and accelerate a little going downhill then ease off the gas as you go up.
The extra push of speed should provide you with the momentum required to climb the hill while minimizing any extra fuel required.

To keep the momentum on flat roads you should read the road well ahead, and leave a good space between you and the vehicle in front.
By doing this you can keep your vehicle moving at a smooth and constant speed and in the right gear which is essential to achieving good fuel economy.

Good and sustained momentum can be achieved by pre-empting problems, easing back on the accelerator, letting the engine slow the car, and then gently easing back on the gas.

9. Use Cruise Control.

Cruise control helps the vehicle to maintain a constant speed which allows the engine to work smoothly and efficiently.
However, cruise control only helps to increase fuel economy when driving on a flat, smooth, and straight surface.

Cruise control may increase fuel consumption on bendy or hilly roads as it is slower to react to external changes, putting more strain on the engine to compensate.

10. Read the road.

Don’t play follow my leader and mirror the vehicle ahead of you as it is a sure way to lose your control over fuel economy.
Unnecessary braking, erratic speedups, slowdowns, and stops can decrease fuel economy by up to 2 miles per gallon.

Reading the road means that you can react early and in a controlled manner saving you fuel in the process.
Harsh braking wastes fuel and energy but reading the road allows you to coast and slow down, (safely and in gear) meaning you won’t use as much fuel accelerating again.

When coasting be aware of the vehicle behind you and show your brake lights if it is particularly close.

11. Change gears earlier.

Changing gear late and at high revs overworks the engine, uses excess fuel and defeats all of your fuel-saving efforts.
Unless you are overtaking and need the extra torque there is little point in red-lining the engine before you change gear.

However, you might be able to change to a higher gear a little earlier than usual which will improve the fuel economy overall.

12. Skip an Occasional Gear.

Being in the wrong gear for the speed or situation only wastes fuel and energy but it’s not necessary to select every gear in order in the gearbox.
For example, if you are facing downhill you can release the brake and set off in second gear.

If you are up to speed you might jump from 3rd to 5th with no loss of speed or change down from 5th to 2nd after coasting.
Skipping gears may take a little practice but can help to reduce fuel consumption and is a great fuel-saving measure.

13. Take Advantage of the Upshift Light.

Many modern vehicles have an upshift indicator on their dashboard panel which advises the driver when to change gear.
In an EPA city-driving test, those who used the upshift indicator yielded an average gas milage improvement of more than 9%.

This is achieved as information from sensors within the engine is calculated to assess the optimum time to shift gear.
The indicator feeds this information to the driver who can then change gear at a time that will achieve maximum fuel economy and engine efficiency.

14. Turn off the air-con.

Using the air conditioning unit can reduce fuel economy by up to 2 miles per gallon depending upon the prevailing conditions.

15. Open the windows in town.

A vehicle’s fuel economy is not compromised when you are driving with the windows down in urban areas and at low speeds.
However, if you are driving at low speeds with the air conditioning on the fuel economy of the vehicle is greatly reduced.

So wherever possible think about turning the AC off and getting into the fuel-saving mindset of opening the windows and getting fresh air into the vehicle.

16. Close The Windows On The Highway.

Driving at speed with the windows open creates an aerodynamic drag effect that causes the engine to work harder and fuel economy to drop.

When moving at highway speeds the aerodynamic drag effect from an open window is increased and can decrease fuel economy by up to and above 10%.

17. Reduce air resistance.

A poorly designed roof cargo box will increase the aerodynamic drag effect and can reduce fuel economy by up to 25% at 65mph to 75mph.
Rear-mounted boxes are more aerodynamically efficient, depending upon type and conditions, but will still reduce your fuel economy by about 5%.

So if you need storage space, consider rear-mounted cargo boxes.
Bike carriers, caravan mirrors, and any other added extras will also increase weight and the aerodynamic drag effect, and lower fuel economy.

As a fuel-saving measure, you should remove all external extras until they are required.

18. Drive With The Tailgate Up.

Trucks are aerodynamically designed to be driven with their tailgates up.
Air flowing over the truck collects in the cargo bed and forms into a teardrop shape that spills out over the tailgate.

The effect of the teardrop shape is to push down on the truck adding to its grip and road stability and feeding air over the tailgate to reduce the drag effect.

Dropping the tailgate means that air coming over the truck will swirl around disrupting the aerodynamics and reducing fuel economy.

19. Cut The Speed.

Simply put, the faster you drive the more fuel your vehicle will consume.
Slowing From 80mph to 60mph can increase your fuel economy by about 7 miles per gallon.
However, each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at different speeds depending upon conditions so please check the vehicle’s handbook.

speed-v-mpg-graphic

20. On an Upgrade, Engage The Handbrake.

When you are stopped on an upward gradient, keep the car from drifting backward by applying the handbrake and putting the vehicle in neutral.

Don’t use the clutch or automatic transmission to keep it from sliding back as this wastes fuel and puts a strain on the engine.

If you are going to hold that position for more than 10 seconds, turn the engine off as a fuel-saving measure.

21. Lose Traction, Lose Fuel.

Slow down and be gentle on the accelerator in wet or icy conditions as a spinning wheel only burns fuel with no forward movement gain.
Similarly, smoking the rear wheels at the lights or drifting around corners may look impressive but do nothing in terms of fuel economy.

22. Don’t rest on the brake.

Don’t drive with a foot resting on the brake pedal as even the slightest pressure will place a drag on the wheels and drive down the fuel economy.
Constantly applied brakes will get very hot which will increase braking distances and maintenance.

The brake lights will also be flashing on and off confusing the drivers behind you which will increase the chances of an accident occurring.

Fuel-Saving Tips –
Driving Mentality

By modifying your driving style and creating some new habits you can increase your fuel efficiency and be consistent in using less gas.
Using less gas is better for the environment, and lowers your carbon footprint while also providing a sustainable future for future generations.

1. Fill your tank at the Grocery Store.

Fuel at your local grocery store is generally cheaper than at most big-name gas stations.
In addition, fuel is also cheaper in high-traffic urban areas rather than in more rural locations.

So to save money, fill up at the local grocery store in town and drive past the out-of-town or highway gas station.

2. Take Advantage Of Loyalty Cards.

Most grocery stores and gas stations want your business and offer loyalty cards to encourage you to return to them whenever you need to fill up.
The loyalty card rewards you with points every time you pay and accumulated points can be exchanged for discounts at a later date.

The schemes are at zero cost to the consumer and can be a great, risk-free way to reduce your fuel costs.
It’s a good idea to join several schemes so that you can take advantage of the special offers and price discounts of several suppliers.

3. Plan your journeys around fuel performance.

Before starting on an unfamiliar journey you should always plan out your route to achieve the best fuel economy.
Sat navs can be programmed to show you the fastest and most economical route and can be a separate device or a simple phone app.

Most sat navs including phone apps will advise you of traffic jams, closed roads, hilly areas, and accidents and are a fantastic fuel-saving device.

4. Drive When And Where Others Are Not Driving.

The stop-start fuel-consuming action of driving in heavy traffic can be avoided by planning your journeys outside of rush hours.
Plan your errands for the evenings or make your long haul journeys overnight and you will save on both fuel and aggravation.

Consider that all roads may lead to Rome but not all of them are occupied, so a little-used side road may be better than the first Sat Nav suggestion.

5. Reconsider Remote Starters.

Remote starters allow you to start your vehicle from the comfort of your home with a single press of a button.
The vehicle idles, warming the engine, blowing warm or cold AC air into the cab, and maybe even heating the seats.

Unfortunately, all that idling has been needlessly wasting precious fuel for a few moments gained in self-comfort.
Remote starters will ruin your fuel economy and increase your carbon footprint so are best left unused.

6. Listen To The Radio For Up To Minute Reports.

Local TV and radio stations often give out, up to the minute, real-time reports which can help with fuel economy.
Just set your radio to live traffic announcements and when a problem occurs it will interrupt your program and advise you so that you can avoid it.

7. Find Your Inner Peace.

Negatively charged emotionally intense drivers tend to transfer those emotions into the wheel, brakes, and the accelerator of the car.
Not only is this dangerous but it also encourages the breaking of all the fuel-saving habits you are trying so hard to form.

So before you get behind the wheel take a few moments to inhale deeply, and appreciate the world around you and the love of your family and friends.
Find your inner peace and if something on the road upsets you, slow down, chill out and remember that life is for living, and not for aggravated driving.

8. Time, Temperature, And Weather.

Weather conditions can have a huge effect on fuel economy and any potential fuel-saving measures you are using.

Strong or blustery winds prevent an aerodynamical airflow from forming over a vehicle, plus an engine will work harder to get from A to B.
Headwinds and crosswinds of varying strength will put undue strain on engines and the effect will be a drastic drop in fuel economy.

Tailwinds will increase fuel economy but any potential gain will be minimalized as turns and weaves in the road will change the direction of the wind.
Heavy rain, snow, and stormy conditions also impede progress putting an extra strain on all moving parts.

When the temperature is 70 degrees you will achieve better fuel economy than when it is 20 degrees, meaning that it is better to travel in warm daylight than it is in cooler moonlight.

9. Vacation Without The Car.

Of course, the best fuel-saving tip is to not use any fuel at all!
Plan your vacation where the need to drive is minimal or non-existent and with easy access to public transport.

Self-contained resorts and woodland villages are great vacation choices and if you need to drive, you can do it overnight!

10. Skip the short trips.

Combine all your short trips into one big errand day to avoid fuel-consumption patterns such as driving with a cold engine or driving in heavy traffic.
Studies show that several short trips taken with an older vehicle and a cold engine may use up to twice the fuel as one multipurpose trip that covers the same distance.

Combining trips can also reduce the overall distance traveled which adds extra fuel-saving economies.

11. Car Pool / Ride Share.

Cut your fuel costs in half and save on vehicle wear and tear plus maintenance costs by taking turns driving with others.
Plus, if you take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs you may be eligible to use, High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.

High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are one or more lanes of a roadway that have restrictions on use to encourage ridesharing, are usually less congested, and can reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

12. Make Use Of apps To Find Cheap Fuel.

There are apps that can quickly find filling stations close to your location and provide you with details of the 10 closest and cheapest.
For example, iPhone users can download the iGasup application and there are many android user apps on Google Play.

13. Fill the Tank Only When Needed.

A full tank of fuel adds weight to the vehicle which negatively affects fuel economy.
If you only fill the fuel tank to 50% capacity the vehicle will be significantly lighter and the fuel economy will be increased.
A gallon of gas weighs about six pounds.

If fuel prices are rising quickly then this point should be avoided as any potential fuel savings will be lost through higher prices at the pump.
Another exception is during extremely cold weather when water can condense in the tank and potentially promote fuel-line freeze.

14. Invest in a Fuel-efficient Vehicle.

Vehicle manufacturers used to make giant gas-guzzling engines but are now creating smaller fuel-efficient engines that can deliver just as much power.
So an older vehicle might achieve 20 MPG and a newer EPA vehicle may achieve 30 MPG with no loss in power.

This is important because if we assume that a vehicle drives 15,000 miles annually at a fuel cost of $4.07 we would have a real-world fuel-saving discount of $1,018.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines vehicle categories for the purpose of emissions and fuel economy certification.

15. Park it Sooner.

Don’t waste fuel cruising around to find the optimum parking spot when any spot will do.
It may mean a short walk, but if you’re carefully using all the fuel-saving methods to get to your destination, why blow all the fuel-saving when you get there.

16. Steer Clear of Gimmicks.

There are no quick fixes and there’s lots of stuff on the internet that will damage your vehicle and leave you with a large bill.
Just remember that the Oil companies have already put the safe, and proven-to-work, fuel-saving additives into your fuel so you don’t have to.

Fuel-Saving Tips –
Vehicle Maintainance

Regular maintenance and servicing keep your vehicle running smoothly and prevent minor problems from turning into major ones.
If you don’t service and maintain your vehicle to keep it in top shape you will see its performance and fuel efficiency deteriorate over time.

1. Make sure your car is Tuned Regularly.

An engine tune-up can improve fuel economy by an average of 1 mile per gallon depending on how your vehicle is already running.
However, spotting and fixing serious faults such as a faulty fuel injector may improve your mileage by up to 30%.

2. Keep it clean.

Dirt on a vehicle will create friction with the air flowing over the vehicle and decrease its fuel economy.
A dirty car will also hide damage such as rust and may block leads, and pipes and restrict the airflow within the engine compartment.

3. Use the correct oil.

Engine oil lubricates the moving parts of an engine which reduces friction and minimizes any unnecessary loss of power.
And, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, if you use the correct motor oil containing friction-reducing additives it can improve your gas mileage by 1% to 2%

Unfortunately, modern engines of today vary greatly from each other meaning that there is no one size fits all engine oil.
For this reason, car manufacturers specify the correct engine oil to use and publish this in the car handbook or manual
.

Using the wrong oil can have significant and very costly consequences such as power loss, excessive noise, or a complete engine failure.

4. Keep The Spark Plugs Clean.

Spark plugs provide combustion within the engine and a misfiring or faulty plug will greatly reduce fuel economy.
Vehicle handbooks show how to change a spark plug and how to spot if the plug is misfiring or faulty.

5. Change the Air Filter.

If the air filter is old, blocked, or dirty the engine won’t receive the right amount of clean air it needs to burn the fuel efficiently.
A dirty air filter on an older car can reduce fuel economy by up to 10% depending on the vehicle and engine.

Air filters are cheap, easy to replace, and can contribute to fuel-saving in every vehicle regardless of age.

6. Check The Exhaust system.

A leak in the exhaust system will drastically cut down your fuel economy and should be fixed immediately.
If you hear a low rumble or see any exhaust gasses coming from under the car then you should seek the help of a qualified mechanic.

8. Economic drivers check tire pressure

If your tires are not at the correct air pressure you will lose fuel economy.
The vehicle handbook or the panel inside your driver’s side door will show you the optimum air pressure for your vehicle.

Underinflated tires can decrease fuel economy by an average of 1 mile per gallon or about 0.2% for every 1 PSI drop below your optimal PSI rating.

Tire pressures need to be increased for towing and for carrying heavy loads to counter drag and maintain the fuel-saving effect.

Overinflated, underinflated or a mixture of pressures in each tire can extend braking distances, and steering responsiveness which can be dangerous to vehicles traveling at speed or cornering.

7. Fuel Economy Varies with Tire Type.

Tires are designed for specific types of vehicles to maximize grip and fuel efficiency.
Changing the tires from the manufactured recommended tires to anything else may have a dramatic effect on fuel economy.

For example, all-season tires are light and provide good fuel economy on a smooth road.
Off-road tires are heavy, knobbly, and do not provide good fuel economy on a smooth road.

8. Have your wheel alignment checked.

Anything that hits the suspension hard will ultimately knock the wheels out of alignment and make the engine work harder to move forward.
Even one large pothole can cause components to become misaligned, impacting fuel consumption.

Having your alignment checked and rebalanced regularly or at least annually will help to improve fuel economy and extend the life of your tires.

9. Consider An Engine Block Heater.

An engine block heater is a device used to warm an engine and its fluids before starting the vehicle in extreme cold weather environments.
In general modern vehicles can start at temperatures as low as -30C / -22F but at these temperatures the strain on the engine is huge.

As a general rule, it is best to put an engine block heater at temperatures below -15C / 5F and it will need to be on for approximately 3 to 4 hours.

In Summary

Unfortunately, you may not be able to act upon all of the fuel-saving methods listed within this post.
But if you change your driving style and employ just a few of the tips you will notice a big difference in your fuel economy.

Remember, that if you reduce the weight and drag on the vehicle, drive smoothly not aggressively, don’t idle unnecessarily, and close the windows at speed, you will save fuel.

So keep these fuel-saving tips fresh in your mind, create new habits and save big time at the pump, no matter what the price is!

And finally, even if you’re not concerned about sustainability and the damage that fuel emissions do to the environment, do it anyway as in the end, fuel-saving just makes sense.

Mark

A proud father of two boys, an amateur actor, and a green living enthusiast, Mark has been sharing hints, tips, and sustainable living content on his website Sustainability Dad since august 2019.

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