« Operation Bless Our Troops | Main | The Love of Jesus »

August 21, 2005

Top 25 Ways to Save at the Pump

Top 25 Ways to Save at the PumpThe threat of high gas prices from now until Kingdom Come sent me in search of "how to save at the pump" today. I've compiled the following Top 25 Ways to Save at the Pump from the top 10 search results on Google. Hope this is helpful to you (I know it's been helpful for me):

  1. Find the places near you that offer the cheapest gas and shop there first. (Resources: Cheap Gas, Gas Buddy, Gas Price Watch)
  2. Check your tire pressure. Under-inflated tires require more energy to roll. The placard on the inside drivers door is where you'll find the correct tire pressure (usually about 28 PSI). Consider replacing worn tires with Low Rolling Resistance (LRR) tires.
  3. Fill up on weekdays—because prices usually rise on the weekend. The cheapest times to buy gas are typically Tuesday midday or Wednesday morning.
  4. Fill up at night because pumps deliver more gas when temperatures are lower.
  5. Buy gas from busy gas stations. Stations that are consistently busy have their tanks refilled regularly, which means the fuel is more likely to be fresh. Fresh gas has more power than gas that has become contaminated by sitting in infrequently used tanks.
  6. Avoid gas stations near freeways, however, because prices are often higher there.
  7. Don't overbuy. Unless your owner's manual says you must use a higher grade (which very few cars actually do), buy regular gasoline. Costlier high-octane gas does not improve the performance of your vehicle.
  8. Avoid topping off. When you purchase just a bit of gas at the gas station the pump doesn’t have enough time to really activate, resulting in short bursts of fuel that may short change you from the amount of gas that you are purchasing.
  9. Avoid running on empty. You may think you're using very little gas when your car is on empty, but you're actually using more gas because your vehicle is running less efficiently as it tries to accelerate and decelerate in a normal fashion. The best time to replenish your gas tank is when you have half a tank or less left, or when you find a gas price that you just can’t pass up.
  10. Carpool whenever possible. Carpoolers often share the cost of gas, and the wear'n'tear on your vehicle is reduced as well.
  11. Combine trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
  12. Choose your vehicle wisely. If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets better mileage whenever you have the option.
  13. Choose your route wisely. Take the route with the flattest terrain and fewest stops. Try to avoid traffic jams and stop and go traffic.
  14. Slow down. Driving at posted speed limits saves fuel and lives. Each 5 mph over 60 mph is like paying an additional 10 cents per gallon. Use cruise control to maintain your speed.
  15. Avoid sudden stops and starts. Erratic acceleration and braking can waste up to 50 cents a gallon.
  16. Avoid idling. If you have to sit in your car for more than one minute, shut off the engine.
  17. Limit air conditioning, which consumes fuel. At lower speeds, open the windows or sunroof to stay cool. At higher speeds, use the car’s fan instead (open windows create drag that reduces mileage).
  18. Park in the shade. This minimizes fuel evaporation and helps keep your car cool in the summer.
  19. Lighten your load. Don’t carry around items you don’t need. For every 100 pounds of weight in your car, fuel economy decreases by one to two percent. Put heavy items in the trunk instead of on a roof rack, which creates drag.
  20. Keep your gas cap on tight. Tightening the gas cap on your car will prevent gas from evaporating and escaping into the air. If you've lost your gas cap, buy a new one ASAP.
  21. Change your oil, spark plugs, and air filter on schedule. And go to a repair shop if your “Check Engine” light comes on—a faulty oxygen sensor could be the cause, lowering your mileage significantly.
  22. Use the recommended grade of motor oil, preferably one with "energy conserving" on the label. Gas mileage could improve 1-2 percent.
  23. Get a tune-up. A simple tune-up on your car can improve your gas mileage by an average of 4.1 percent.
  24. Look into discount gas card offers. Shell, Gulf, BP-Amoco, Exxon-Mobile, and others have rebate programs that offer as much as 5-10 percent off the gas you buy.
  25. Track your average mileage and have your car checked if the average decreases. To calculate your mileage, note the odometer reading and number of gallons purchased each time you fill up. Divide the number of miles traveled between fill-ups by the number of gallons purchased.

Sources: Lifehacker, Star Tribune, Union of Concerned Scientists, San Francisco Consumer Credit Counseling Service, NBC4i, The Morning Call

Also check out How to Save at the Pump: 62 Ways by Fred Greenwald, a free download e-book available on Lulu.com (e-mail address is required).

Posted by Steve K. at August 21, 2005 11:09 PM


These high prices are keeping me from visiting my family in IL. I've heard that around Chicago & burbs the gas prices average $3.25/gal. Ouch!

We will probably start seeing higher prices in many things very soon. Especially items made of plastic since oil in used in plastic production.

Posted by: Rich5off [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 22, 2005 08:55 AM

Nice suggestions Steve. Just a note on the oil point. If you have an option of say 10W-30 or 5W-30, and both are approved for your car, choose the lower weight oil. Lower weight offers less resistance. Some would say that in cold climates a 5W-30 is too little in cold environments, but from what I understand, modern oil formulations tolerate the cold very well. I mention this cause I don't see many oils making the distinction "energy conserving" or not.

On the carpooling subject, I've actually set up a social network based carpooling website. Carpooling can really help people reduce gas usage and save money if enough people get involved. It's called Pooln if you'd like to check it out.

Posted by: Ben Engebreth [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2005 05:05 PM

These are all very good suggestions, but you missed several important ones like: Ride your bike; take public transportation; Buy smaller and/or hybrid cars; check out car-sharing programs like Flexcar or Zipcar; move closer to your workplace and/or explore telecommute options; write your representatives and urge them to raise fuel economy standards, especially on SUVs!

Posted by: James [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2005 01:37 PM

2 issues plus a suggestion...and believe me, I am right.

First of all, yes, higher grade gas CAN improve gas mileage. However, it depends on your car.

It is smarter to fill up your tank 3 times in a row to calculate MPG with all 3 grades of gas to see which one gives the best mileage. I get a significantly greater MPG with 'plus' than I do with 'regular'. But the difference of MPG between 'plus' and 'premium' gas is not worth the extra money. Just test it out first.

Secondly, in regards to idling, it is not always better to shut off your car and it definately depends on how long youre sitting.

It actually uses more fuel to have to start up your car after turning it off than it does by leaving it idle for 5 minutes. Depending on the car, anything over a 5 minute idle is probably not better than shutting the car off and restarting it. So if you only are waiting 5 minutes or less, it probably better to keep the car idle.

Finally, one more tip that is mostly for drivers of stick shifts. Take advantage of your clutch. Your car uses much less fuel when it's idling than it does when you're driving. Therefore use downgrades (hills) to your advantage. Always push in your clutch and idle your way down hills. No point in letting the gears wind away when gravity can the work. Get in the habit of it and you'll notice a MPG increase.

Posted by: joemawlma [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2005 02:39 PM

Hey guys,

Great suggestions! I didn't include some of these in my original list because: 1) I didn't think they were practical enough (i.e. most of us can't ride a bicycle to work, buy a new more fuel-efficient car, sell our houses and move closer to where we happen to work right now, etc.); and 2) I didn't think was applicable to the majority of people out there (i.e. drive stick shift, etc.).

I think carpooling is a great idea, and those services mentioned are a great resource. Following the run on gas we had here in Charlotte this past week, I've finally begun carpooling with a coworker! Writing our government representatives and expressing concern about this issues is key also. Maybe Sojourners (http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=action.home) or somebody will give us an easy online way of doing that. If you know of something that already exists out there, please post a link here.

Thanks, ya'll! Keep the ideas coming ...

Steve K.

Posted by: Steve K. [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2005 07:40 PM

BTW - This post has been getting a lot of traffic thanks to folks like Lifehack.org, etc. I found this post especially amusing:

Thanks, ya'll, for sharing the link love!

Posted by: Steve K. [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2005 09:45 PM

Lifestyles by design. You don't have to think of the bicycle as only a way to ride to work, integrate it into your lifestyle, use it to pub crawl, shop, hang out at upiquitous coffee shops, reduce short trips in a car and you save big on gas, city driving is the most inefficient unless of course you drive a Prius! Develop a bicycle culture in your town with fun events and rides, work to make the roads safe for pedestrians and cyclists by riding and walking more, for Pete's sake, why must everyone feel they have to run around in motorized wheelchairs everywhere the go? You can easily ride a hundred miles on a good road bike in 8 hours, 20 in 1 (faster than gridlock in LA highways), plus you get in shape, start producing some of those awesome endorphins, and generally recovering from automyopia!


Posted by: bikecommuter [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2005 02:53 PM

Hey JB!

Thanks for hitting me up with your comment. You're absolutely right -- if we can integrate other modes of transportation (bikes especially) into our daily lifestyles, then we can keep the motor vehicles parked and save on gas that way also. It's an excellent point, and thanks for sharing it.

My daughter just got a new bicycle (sans training wheels!). Methinks mom and dad are gonna need to get out and purchase some wheels for ourselves so we can all go riding as a family soon.

Steve K.

Posted by: Steve K. [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2005 04:58 PM

Ok as the son of a mechanic and a current apprentice i can tell you leaving your car idling burns alot more gas as well as oil (piston slap) im sorry but leaving your car idle for 5 minutes is retarded it is a proven fact that leaving your car idle for 30 seconds and starting stopping the engine as many times as possible in 30 seconds acctually consumes less fuel in the start stop. as well as driving a vehicle as to keep the engine under load acctually consumes alot less fuel as well. like acellerating with the pedal about 2/3rds of the way down and upshifting to lower rpms down. but keeping your tires inflated properly and the proper oil (the energy conserving ones dont really work) as well as regualer tuneups and spark plug changes work very well even over inflating your tires a touch can help too. but the fill up at night and the pump not activating are old wives tales. another thing u can do is get your ECU tuned there are specialists out there who can tune your ECU to help save alot of fuel because lets be serious u dont use all the power your vehicle has usually so burning the amount of fuel it takes to make that engine that powerfull doesnt make sense. you can also look into alternative fuels like propane it seems expensive at first but most engines can be fitted for about 1,200 dollars and then fuel costs half as much as well as propane for example doesnt cause as much build up in your engine so it lasts longer. anyways thought id mention this as it seems to be relative information.

Posted by: potskie [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 26, 2005 02:50 AM

A great post! There were quite a few points that have not been mentioned on the sites I have seen regarding the same topic. I've personally joined a gas savings program where I've been saving 25% (and more!) on gas for a little over a month now. I explain it a bit more in this post: http://stevedanforth.com/document/save-gas

p.s. Steve, if this is not appropriate to post, please delete at will. But please do check the link first - it's a legitmate way to buy your gas smarter.

Posted by: SteveD at October 17, 2005 03:36 AM

We have been searching and searching for a way to save money of fuel. My wife drives a gas guzzling Explorer SUV and I drive a diesel 1 ton. Well we found the way. My wife is averaging 110 km more per tank and my onboard computor says I went from 17.9 miles per gal to using 14.2 this week. We bitronized our vehicles and what a difference. The bonus is fuel saving the real key here is the power we have gained by using the products. I have been impressed by these products. Check it out, it costs nothing to look right. www.bitronize.com

Posted by: Bruce at November 23, 2005 10:55 AM

if your engine is extremely dirty, and crusted with oil and fluids and all other elements it does improve your engines condition by keeping all of your hoses and rubber components from deteriorating resulting in better operation and effeciency.

p.s it's always best to pay attention to water pressure when cleaning so you don't damage any equipment and even better afterwards to dress it in a solvent free dressing

Posted by: Jordan at December 15, 2005 04:48 PM

I can't believe it, my co-worker just bought a car for $88788. Isn't that crazy!

Posted by: Betsy Markum at December 22, 2005 05:45 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?