Gas is Still Expensive: 9 Driving Tips to Conserve Fuel and Save Money

the national average price of gasoline continues to drop each day — currently it is $4.11 per gallon, which is down from $4.80 a month ago, but still isn’t cheap. So to make your gas tank last a little longer (and save you some moneytoo) there are some driving tips that can help, and also some myths to avoid.

From forgoing air conditioning while driving, to turning off the car completely at traffic lights, to changing air filters more often, we’ll explain what works and what doesn’t.

We’ll share some tips for saving gas while driving, as well as myths to avoid. Also, here it is how to save money on gas at the pump.

Gas Saving Myths That Aren’t Really Helping

Skip these tips – they don’t really work and can waste your time and money.

Don’t buy a device marketed to help with fuel efficiency: Often called fuel savers, these devices are installed on your engine and promote fuel economy. But we do not recommend them. “People should be suspicious of any device that promises to increase fuel efficiency,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy, told CNET. Some can bypass broadcasts and may be illegal.

Do not change your air filter more often than recommended: While a dirty air filter can cause problems in other areas of your vehicle, it won’t change your gas mileage.

Do not schedule more frequent oil changes: It’s a common myth that if you’re due for an oil change, your car’s gas mileage will suffer. While it’s best to keep up with your car’s maintenance to prevent future problems, don’t expect your gas mileage to improve.

Your mileage can improve by 1% to 2%However, if you use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil.

Now that you know what won’t work, here are some tips that can improve your mileage.

Slow and steady wins the race

Rapid acceleration burns gas at a faster rate than driving at a slower, steady pace. If you can maintain a constant speed, it will help you save gas. People who are constantly in a hurry and pressing down on the gas tend to use more gas due to rapid acceleration, De Haan explained.

“If people drove at a slower rate of acceleration and avoided running a red light, it would help prevent […] burning gas and using energy,” he said.

Vehicles are most efficient when you drive between 55 and 60 miles per hour; any higher value starts to reduce a car’s efficiency. “Slow down and go to 60 instead of 70,” de Haan said.

Cars lined up driving through a snow storm

Your driving pattern affects your gas mileage.

James Martin/CNET

Use cruise control when possible

The easiest way to maintain a constant speed? Cruise control. It’s an easy way to maintain a constant speed, instead of slowing down and speeding up to get back to 55 miles per hour. It is best to use cruise control when driving on a flat road without stopping, for example, a motorway.

“Cruise control is much more effective than a human being at maintaining speed and can help save fuel,” De Haan said.

Avoid idling – turn your car off at red lights and other long stops

When you are stopped at a busy red light that usually takes several minutes to go through or if you are stopped and waiting outside your children’s school, the The Argonne National Laboratory recommends turn off your car if it is going to be idle for 10 seconds or more.

The government agency says that even turning off your car for as little as 10 seconds can save you fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

However, for diesel vehicles, the advice is not the same. De Haan says that engines run on compression, so it may not be as advantageous to turn off your diesel vehicle while idling.

Know when to use the air conditioner and when to open the windows

Turning off your car’s air conditioning can save gas, but not in all driving situations. Having the air conditioning on while the vehicle is already running doesn’t add much stress to your engine and won’t cause it to use gas at a much faster rate. But when your car is idling, running the air conditioning can put more load on the engine, requiring more gasoline to help it work harder, De Haan said.

Is driving with the windows down a more fuel efficient alternative? Not always, especially on highways or driving at high speeds. This can actually use more gas as it increases wind resistance or “air resistance”. according to Schaefer Autobody Centers. This, in turn, slows down your car and requires more fuel to run.

Generally, it’s best to leave your windows open when driving on city streets where you may be stopped more often or streets with lower speed limits. Otherwise, using the air conditioner is your best option.

Remove roof racks from your car when not in use

If you drive a vehicle that has removable top shelves, De Haan recommends removing them when you’re not using them. This can improve the aerodynamics of your car, similar to rolling up the windows.

This logic applies to larger racks that hold luggage, for example, but bike and ski racks are generally fine to leave in your vehicle.

General Tire in a red Nissan Titan pickup

Always make sure your tires are properly inflated before you hit the road.

Jon Wong/CNET Autos

Keep your tires properly inflated

Making sure your tires are properly inflated can also help with your car’s gas mileage. The US Department of Energy says you can improve your gas mileage by 3% (although the average is 0.6%) by keeping your tires inflated to the correct air pressure. Your gas mileage can be reduced by approximately 0.2% for every pound per square inch of air thrown out. For example, if your tires are supposed to be aerated to 36 PSI and are sitting at 30 PSI, your gas mileage could be reduced by as much as 1.2%.

When air pressure drops below 25 PSI, an increase in friction can occur, forcing your engine to work harder, resulting in fewer miles per gallon, De Haan said. Most engines will alert you when one of his tires is low. (The warning light looks like a closed parenthesis with an exclamation point in the middle and a wavy line below it.)

Before you inflate your tires, check the manufacturer’s requirements in your owner’s manual or on your car’s door tag to see what the air pressure should be. If you can’t find any, you can visit a website like TirePressure.com to get an answer

Combine your trips when running errands

If you have multiple errands to run on opposite sides of town, plan it so you don’t have to drive back and forth. For example, if the post office is next to the coffee shop but isn’t open yet, make it your last stop instead of having to drive back to that area.

When you have to run errands in places that aren’t close by, it’s best to try to get it all done in one trip. Your car’s engine is more efficient when it’s warmed up, which can save you a bit of gas. It also prevents you from driving extra miles by taking trips on different days.

Anticipate traffic lights as much as possible

Going through multiple lights in a row can wreak havoc on your gas mileage, especially if you’re idling at every light. Your car is still burning fuel while stopped and you get zero gas miles during that time.

While it is best to try to time the lights when they are green to avoid stalling, this is not always possible. If you see that the light has already turned yellow or red, slow down and go to the light instead of using the gas and then braking hard when you get there. This can help you save a little gas.

Does auto start-stop technology increase your mileage?

Many new cars are equipped with stop-start technology that activates automatically when you come to a complete stop and when you press the accelerator pedal. These systems automatically turn off the engine when the car comes to a complete stop – your air conditioning and other electronics will continue to work. As soon as you press the accelerator pedal, the engine immediately starts up again.

Vehicles with this automatic system see up to a 7% improvement in fuel economy, according to AAA. If your car is equipped with this feature, you are already saving gas without doing anything extra.

For more money-saving tips, here they are. 27 ways to cut costs around the house now and a trick to lower the electricity bill. Also, here are some tips to save money on food, gas and travel.

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