Image: Gas pump © Thinkstock-Jupiterimages

Related topics: savings, cars, gas prices, gas mileage, frugal

With gas prices continuing a painful uphill climb, we asked readers what they're doing to save money on gas.

From carefully calculating travel routes and driving more conservatively to choosing alternative means of transportation, we received some great tips.

The upshot: When the going gets tough, tough drivers get creative. Here are some of the best responses, as well as some off-the-wall ideas you may never have considered.

1. Change the way you drive

  1. Drive less.
  2. I arrange all of my appointments, shopping, etc. on the same day (takes some scheduling and planning, but worth it).
  3. Plan my driving pattern in a circle or semicircle to my home.
  4. Get on the Internet to find the cheapest gas in town, go to that gas station (even though it may go against my grain if it's one of the major ones).
  5. Drive under 60 mph, not a lot of quick stops and goes (takes too much gas).
  6. Use cruise control as much as possible.
  7. Fortunately, or unfortunately, whichever way you may wish to look at it, I had to have my O2 sensors replaced, which improved my gas mileage tremendously. (By the way, I had an extended warranty, so the replacement would have cost me $1,309. It cost me $50 -- frugal me, huh?)


"xpert1": I don't freak out and rush out to spend thousands of financed dollars on a new vehicle that gets a few miles per gallon better fuel economy. I mostly ignore the inflated claims and buzz and continue to drive my older but well-maintained and reliable vehicles that I can work on and repair myself. Keeping tires inflated and air filters clean and vehicles in tune can also help. Emptying all the unneeded clutter and weight can also prove a plus.

"CDI Chemist Guy": Park in the shade. Use a windshield reflecting screen if in the sun while parking. Minimize A/C use. Park on a hill. Set your automatic transmission to shift at the lowest rpms it will shift at (not the sport setting!) by tapping your shifter to nudge it to upshift. Use 5W-30 or 5W-40 [oil]. Put sunscreen on the inside of your windows. Pump your tires up slightly over the recommended maximum -- since you fill tires when they are low pressured you will average the correct maximum pressure over time.

"noclaf72": My husband and I don't race from one stop light/sign to the next. Only do all errands and shopping on one day a week. We drive no faster than 65 (even if the speed limit is higher), sometimes 60, depending on when we need to be somewhere. We leave earlier, take our time and not feel so rushed. Unfortunately living in a rural area, we don't have any transportation services (rail, bus, etc.). So, we do what works for us. We keep up with car maintenance. However, we started doing this when gas prices reached $2/gal. We made necessary changes to help us save money.

2. Avoid traffic lights

"No sympathy for ins": There is an EPA city/highway rating for a reason, and the reason is that city driving is so inefficient, which is largely due to traffic lights. How many people have seen a long line of cars have to stop at a traffic light, so that one or two cars in the perpendicular lanes of travel can cross an intersection? What a tremendous waste of gas that is! When you drive home tonight, look at the traffic lights and the pattern they operate within. Is the city using traffic lights as speed control? Are the timers off such that driving the speed limit, you are hitting each red light instead of green ones? Cities should be required to install intelligent traffic light timers on all busy intersections, and ensure they are operating to increase efficiency, not be an electronic nanny to regulate speed limits.

"CDI Chemist Guy": Another way to reduce societal petroleum consumption is to never stop at a traffic light in the right lane. If everyone did this, then no one would have to wait to take a right on red. Is this too much to ask of selfish people engrossed in B.S. conversations on cell phones and oblivious to traffic situations?

"llbigwave": I've eliminated out-of-town driving trips, and also try to save a drop or two by coasting toward stop lights, gently accelerating away from stops, and so forth. Unfortunately, my city has sprawled quite a bit, but hasn't improved the mass-transit system accordingly. The main change I've made is in budgeting: gasoline as a line item in each month's budget, and if we go over budget near the end of the month, the extra money has to come out of some other category.

3. Use alternative transportation

"slaw67": Since gas prices started to rise after Hurricane Katrina, I've been biking and using the bus most days to commute. Now, the car stays in the driveway every day and I only use the bus or bicycle! I'm worried about the bus passes increasing in price also!

"kilroy123": Moved to downtown Portland and enjoy free light rail and streetcar access. So I walk and take public transportation. There are Zipcars everywhere (including my building). If I need to go out of town or need a car for longer than a few hours, I just rent a car. I pay nothing for gas and I still get around fast and efficiently.

"John": Basically I don't drive. Two years ago I rented my condo that I can't sell. I use the rent money to live a mile from work. I walk or bike to work.

"the average jean": I live in northern California and I am on a fixed income. I sold my truck and got a used Honda. I am starting to walk to the store on days I can and many days I don't go anywhere. I am looking for work so I try to use the car only when I go for job interviews. This is very hard to do because sometimes my choice is do I buy groceries or do I get gas. My kids who are grown are going through the same even with jobs. I walk when I can when it comes to getting something from the store -- it's good exercise. I try to plan ahead with trips to farther places or I will meet halfway when picking up the grandkids. Sometimes if I go to visits I stay over to save gas.