We can help you save hundreds of dollars a year by improving your fuel economy.
There is a good chance that you are wasting hundreds to thousands of dollars every year because you don’t pay much attention to the way you drive. That’s a lot of money that you are losing – money you could be spending on things that would actually put a smile on your face and make your life better, like the latest aftermarket car tech that integrates with your smartphone. Helping people save money is one of the main reasons we are creating a community of conscientious drivers. And you don’t have to be a hypermiler to join. So, if you want to stop losing money and start Driving2Save today, keep reading and follow five of our surprisingly easy and simple tips for saving money on gas by driving smarter. These tips will save you big money on gas by increasing your fuel efficiency/miles per gallon (MPG). (You may also want to consider how much you are paying for gas. Check out GasBuddy to see if there is cheaper gas near you.)
5 Tips for Substantially Improving Your Fuel Economy
Tires are among the most notable heroes of the car – you, your passengers and every piece of the car literally ride on them. However, they are often overlooked and neglected, even with the introduction of tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) several years ago. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, that is a huge mistake, as tire pressure was a factor in roughly 5% of all accidents. In addition, blowouts, in which a tire unexpectedly and suddenly fails, cause over 2,000 accidents and 500 fatalities each year. In an internal study Edmunds found that its own car-minded employees had underinflated their tires by 7%. If employees kept their tires properly inflated, that would save them an average of $112 per year. If we assume the same for all roughly 263 million registered vehicles on the road, that’s a savings of over $29 billion per year. Finally, underinflated tires wear faster than properly inflated tires, which means you’ll be going to the tire store more often and spending hundreds of dollars more than you should over the life of your car. If you do need new tires, not only should you resolve to keep them properly inflated, but you should seriously consider buying low-rolling resistance tires, which can improve your MPG and save you significant money on gas.
What it may cost you: $10 to > $100 per year, plus additional tire replacement costs
How you can avoid this:
- Check tire pressure every two weeks with an inexpensive, easy to use and high-quality gauge, such as the one that we preferred in our testing: the Astro AI Digital Pressure Gauge.
- If you would rather have your tire pressure checked for you automatically, purchase an aftermarket TPMS that utilizes easily-installed sensors on your tire valve stems and integrates with your smart phone, such as the one we preferred in our testing, which is made by Nonda.
- Use a portable tire pump/compressor that plugs into your car’s 12V outlet when you need to add air to your tires, such as the one that we preferred in our testing: the DB Power Plug-in Tire Pump.
#2 Stop Idling and Searching for (Perfect) Parking
No matter how fuel efficient you are, when you are idling at a stop, you are getting 0 mpg. Many engines today are even being designed or can be modified to automatically turn off at stoplights in the pursuit of optimal fuel economy. With this in mind, it’s important to minimize idling whenever possible. Running your entire car just to power your heater or air conditioning is tremendously wasteful and fills the surrounding air with pollutants. What’s more, driving around looking for parking can cost you hundreds of dollars. According to INRIX, a leading transportation analytics and services firm, US drivers spend roughly 17 hours a year looking for parking. This equates to a loss of $345 per driver of wasted time and fuel, and represents the release of millions of tons of unnecessary emissions across the country. This is a classic example of the perfect being the enemy of the good. The pursuit of the closest parking spot also means paying extra money, for some. The same INRIX study found that Americans also waste money overpaying for parking by an average of $97 per driver per year, and even more for city drivers.
What it may cost you: Idling: $70-650 per year; Parking: ~$450 per year
How can you avoid this? Be open to parking further away – park early and walk more. Minimize idling whenever possible – get ready before turning the car on, whenever possible, turn off your car while waiting (for example, when in line to pick up a child from school), consider buying a car with auto-stop/start technology or using an aftermarket version of the technology. Sign up for our Newsletter and Like our Facebook Page to get Product Testing Reports on after-market auto-stop/start technologies as well as leading parking apps.
#3 Lighten Your Lead Foot
The US Department of Energy estimates that improving your driving behavior can reduce your fuel consumption by between 5-10% and as much as 20% for more aggressive drivers. Much of this occurs by accelerating faster than needed and braking late for turns and stoplights. On top of reducing fuel efficiency, driving with a lead foot can also be bad for your car and put you more at risk of an accident. All that extra accelerating puts more wear on your engine and can lead to less reaction time when dangerous situations arise. Our advice is simple: When you are not in a rush, don’t drive like you are.
What it may cost you: Using the 5-10% figure that’s $82 – $164 per year in fuel and even more in reduced wear and tear.
How can you avoid this? Don’t rush when you don’t need to and brake early and gradually whenever possible. Subscribe to our Newsletter and Like our Facebook Page to get more information on tips and aftermarket solutions that can help you (or anyone you know) to be mindful of acceleration habits.
#4 Pay More Attention to your AC Addiction
Everyone loves having a comfortable car, but we’ve all been in one that is too cold. On top of being uncomfortable, it is another big fuel-waster. According to the Oak Ridge National Lab, idling with your AC on max reduces your fuel efficiency by 55%+, by 22-27% while moving at 40 mph and by 9-14% while moving at 70 mph.
The Canadian government estimates the annual cost of running AC can be between ~16-74 gallons of gas, depending on how much you drive, car characteristics and driving behavior. Assuming $3 per gallon of gas, that’s $48 to $222 per year you might be spending unnecessarily.
Don’t get us wrong. We like AC. In fact, in our own testing and evaluation, we found that AC is the fastest way to cool your car on a hot day. However, in most cases you can achieve a similar result through rolling the windows down for about 1-7 minutes (depending on outdoor air temperature), then rolling up the windows and using AC if your car is still uncomfortable. This can save your AC from performing a lot of hard work and save you money.
What it may cost you: $24 and $111 per year, assuming a reduction in AC use of 50%.
How can you avoid this? When you drive with the AC on, make sure you turn it off just before you park and turn your car off. This way you will not start the car with the AC on, which is a substantial fuel burden. When driving, minimize or cut out AC use whenever possible by using lower settings or opening the window. Use inexpensive and effective sunshades like our favorite one from testing to help keep out the heat when your car is parked. This reduces the internal temperature of the car, reducing the amount of time the AC must run to cool your car to your desired temperature. This saves you money on fuel.
#5 Stop Running Around with an Empty Roof Rack
Many well-intentioned drivers are hurting their pocketbooks and the environment by driving around with empty roof racks on their otherwise reasonably fuel efficient cars. Driving with your roof rack on causes unnecessary drag and can be a huge factor in reducing your fuel economy. According to one Lawrence Berkeley National Lab study, roof racks are responsible for about 0.8% of all US light duty vehicle consumption, due to increased drag. This equates to the unnecessary release of one million tons of CO2 and the unnecessary consumption of 100 million gallons of gasoline. In some cases, it can reduce fuel economy by as much as 25%.
What it may cost you: $75 – >$300 (assuming fuel economy changes of 5-25%)
How can you avoid this? Take off your roof racks when not using them (or at least the cross beams). Getting a more aerodynamic rear-mounted rack may also help reduce your fuel penalty.
It could not be easier to save gas and money every time you drive. Start today by taking advantage of these simple tips and making easy changes in your driving behavior to help you save hundreds of dollars a year at the gas pump by substantially improving your fuel economy. Want more? You can find our Top 10 tips for saving money at the pump here. All in? We have dozens of additional tips to help you save money, lives, time, and the planet every time you get behind the wheel. Don’t have the gear you need? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We have tested every piece of gear you need, and the best products are available at great prices in our shop.
This Post was updated on 1/17/18.