Ten Best: Gas saving tips

by Jesse Kiser

This ain’t racin’

Take your time and you save your wallet. Every vehicle’s mile-per-gallon rating is far worse in the city than on the highway. In the city, be smart and accelerate slowly. By being more consistent with your speed you catch more green lights – they are designed that way. Kicking the gas hard from stoplight to stoplight will do nothing more than frustrate you and burn your gas. Also, don’t cut me off in traffic or on the highway solely for the purpose of getting around me. That’s for rednecks.

Slowwww down

Not all of us remember 1974 but those that do remember Richard Nixon’s signing of the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, which called for a nationwide speed limit of 55 mph. After Nixon signed it he wrote, “Estimates indicate that we can save nearly 200,000 barrels of fuel a day by observing a national limit of 55 miles per hour.” And that was back in 1974. Nixon was a lot of things, but a waster of gasoline he was not.

Sometimes a trickle is better

Remember this mantra when you’re trying to save gas: Slower is better. Pumping gas slowly ensures that there is nothing but gas in the pump hose. If the pump runs fast it could grab air along with gas. And its tough enough buying gas at four dollars a gallon, let alone paying for air, which was still free last time I checked.

Be the early bird

Now this one is the easiest and simplest tips for getting the most out of your gas tank, and many of you might already do it. Fill your gas tank early in the morning or later at night – whenever the air is coolest. Why? The gas you are pumping comes from large tanks underground. When the ground heats up during the day so do the tanks, causing them to fill with evaporated gas and allowing the fuel to expand a little. You still get gas, but you could be getting just a little bit more. So stay cool and keep your gas that way too.

Lighten your load

This one is a no-brainier. You do not need to drive around with that box of old toys in the trunk you have been meaning to give to Goodwill. Less weight equals less gas; it’s that simple. Now don’t go ripping out your back seat or unbolting your fenders to drop weight. Simply lighten up your load by removing unnecessary items from your car. Don’t go risking your safety by removing some of those features that keep you from dying in a crash. Yeah your airbags might weigh a lot, but you might need them at some point.

Idleness costs

Zero miles per gallon, which is what you’re getting when you let your engine idle, ruins your conservation efforts. Waiting for a cheeseburger that is taking way too long can not only be hard on your empty stomach, but also hard on your gas tank. The point at which to turn off the car is debatable and every car is different. But on average when you reach somewhere around one minute of idling (letting the car run and not moving) you burn more gas than at start-up. So at some point you need to cut it off. Also, don’t warm up your car. A cold start and a cold drive are both okay. You do not need to sit at the drive-thru burning gas, and you shouldn’t be sitting in your driveway every morning doing the same thing.

Don’t get hustled

You are sitting at home one late night, can’t sleep, watching TV. You see an infomercial for a weight-loss supplement that promises an amazing amount of weight loss with no change in any of your habits. It sounds too good to be true and you wonder why obesity is one of the major problems in our nation if there is such a simple solution. The same thing can be said for gas-saving devices. They are too good to be true, and if they worked so well everybody would be using them. They’re not. Don’t buy a remoleculizer or the silencer intake thunder propeller. They are crap and do nothing but try to make money off of suckers. You are better off saving your money and investing in smart things your car does need, like an air filter. Or gas.

Give your car some love

A happy car makes a happy driver. Keep your car well maintained. A dirty air filter or a clogged fuel filter will not usually announce themselves, but they can impact your driving style and your gas mileage. The most obvious and simple things are spark plugs, spark-plug wires, air filters, routine oil changes and proper tire pressure.

Or do it yourself

Two things anyone can do with no tools or real car know-how are: Fill the air in your tires and check your air filter. Stop by an air pump at most big gas stations and fill your tire pressure to the recommended amount stamped on the outside of the all of the tires, close to the wheel. Also, pull out your air filter. Face it towards the sun and look through it. If you see a decent amount of light running through it, it’s fine. But if you don’t see any light coming through, then clean it or change it (most the time it is cheaper and easier to change it because if it is a white paper filter, you cannot wash it with water).

You really need that 4×4?

Buy smart. High gas prices are our own doing, but one place we see fit to put blame is on the automobile manufacturers. We blame them for making cars with bad gas mileage. But they build what we buy. If we keep buying SUVs and Detroit keeps selling them, why should they change? Buy a car with good gas mileage and buy only what you need. Don’t get sold on the 4×4 with the towing package if you live in downtown Greensboro and just need a car for a 5-minute commute. If consumers invest in smarter, gas-friendlier cars, the major automobile manufacturers will take notice and invest more into those cars.