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4 gas-saving tips you'll ignore; 5 you won't

Driving slower will save fuel, but it might not be safe.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2009 11:51PM

This post comes from partner blog Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

One thing I don't like about typical gas-saving posts is that they give great tips you'll never use.

They're great tips you will absolutely, without a doubt, 100%, take-no-prisoners ignore until you're blue in the face. You'll ignore them because you don't like the tips.

Here are four tips you'll ignore, and why you (and I) ignore them. Then I'll follow with some tips I think you won't ignore, because they're easy.

Drive 55 mph. This tip is by far the one you'll ignore the most because we all like to get where we're going as quickly as possible. In fact, despite studies showing an increase in fuel efficiency at 55 mph, the bottom line is that when the feds adopted that speed limit because of the 1973 oil crisis, gasoline consumption dropped only 1%. You are most likely to ignore this rule because the speed limit on most highways is now 65 mph, and many drivers exceed that. Driving at 55 mph puts you at risk as aggressive drivers start weaving around you.

Carpool. Carpooling saves gasoline because you use less of it. It's brilliant in its simplicity until you try to carpool and find that no one lives near you and has the same schedule. I try to carpool when it's convenient, trading beers for rides into Baltimore, but the day-to-day thing simply doesn't work well.

Reduce weight in the trunk. Some people even advise that you take the spare out of your trunk to save on fuel. It's a great tip if you have cinder blocks in your trunk, but I don't think I have more than 10 pounds of stuff in my trunk (not counting the spare, which is staying in there no matter what). This tip is great in principle but fails in practice. The things in most people's trunks are there for a good reason.

Buy a smaller car. Great tip, except you already have a car. The process of selling a car and buying a new one is difficult. I think buying a car is one of the more stressful decisions a person can make, next to buying a house and getting married. If you could swap your gas guzzler for a svelte gas sipper, I'm sure you would, but it's not that simple. This is like suggesting you trade in your spouse for someone more attentive or more attractive. 

Tips you'll use

Here are five simple tips you'll actually follow:

Scan GasBuddy before filling up. You probably can get to a computer before you hop into your car to fill up the tank, so jump onto GasBuddy (or your gas-station search of choice) and find the one along your route that has the cheapest gas.

Use the correct octane. If your owner's manual says you should use premium, use premium. If it says regular and you're using premium, you're wasting your money.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated. It's estimated you can lose 6% fuel efficiency if your tires are underinflated, and their life will be reduced because of uneven wear.

Change your oil regularly. This easy step keeps your engine operating at peak performance. Do so only on the schedule in your manual; ignore that 3,000-mile advice unless your manual recommends it. 

Change your air filter. This simple maintenance task will save you up to 10% fuel efficiency. If your engine is starving for air because your filter looks like Snoop Dogg's lungs, then you're wasting a lot of money.

Other articles of interest at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity:

Published Oct. 30, 2007


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