Every week that we keep breathing on this glorious planet we call home, we find ourselves with a mixed bag of good news and bad news. Some weeks are overflowing with unforeseen bonuses at work, finding cuddly lost puppies behind your house that imprint onto you, or meeting hyper-intelligent alien life from another universe that came just to tell you that your new hat looks great on your not-so-fat head (why thank you!).
And other weeks are filled with not so good news.
You walk in on your roommate cleaning the toilet with your toothbrush. You thought you were being frugal by grabbing your coffee at McDonald’s instead of Starbucks but you accidentally order a bigger size and pay the not so $2 price you intended to pay (my bad). Or maybe you ordered the wrong size bowling shoes and end up with toddler sized ones when you really needed adult size (I can’t bowl with baby shoes!).
Whatever the case may be, sometimes it’s good to have a good trick or two up your sleeve for when the bad times take a sledgehammer to your finances. And that brings me to the topic of the day: how to maximize the gas mileage on your vehicle.
I know, this was a roundabout way to break into the topic. Sorry, not sorry.
But seriously, some weeks can be so hard on your finances that you’re looking for any and all ways to cut down on the things you can’t avoid using. And for some of us, that means finding ways to stretch the gas mileage on our cars when our commute is too long to otherwise walk/bike/ride our dinosaurs from.
So strap in mom, dad, kids, and other intelligent life that read this not-so-famous blog. We’re about to explore ways that you can milk every mile out of the last tank of gas that you’ve got until next payday!
Tip #1: Air Pressure
We’re starting with the most basic tip first because it’s the easiest. Pull into just about any reputable gas station and you’re bound to see a free air hose to top off your tires. Swing your oh so sweet rockstar pink Mitsubishi Eclipse around to the hose and make sure that your tires are filled to the factory specs that are listed on the inside of your door (you can use a tire pressure monitor to check the levels if you don’t have a car that does so automatically on your dashboard. Link: https://amzn.to/2tMEoMp). Checking to make sure that your tires are at the optimal air pressure will ensure that you’re not causing anymore or less friction with the pavement than you need to.
Tip #2: Decommission your Lead Foot
On any other day, I’ll be your ride or die and scream my lungs out as you squeal us around that twenty mile per hour turn at one hundred in your mom’s old minivan. But when you’re trying to save money, you’ve got to retire your lead foot and give your passengers a rest. Accelerating fast or traveling at higher speeds than the posted speed in your area can burn a lot of extra petrol! Ease off while your wallet catches up with your foot.
Tip #3: Toss Your Best Friend Bracelet
Every pound of weight in your car equates to more gas headed out the back of your tailpipe. And that means that while you’re trying to ration your gas you take no passengers. You’re a party of one no matter how incessantly your best friend begs you to take him along with you on your Taco Bell run.
It also means you’ve got to unload anything you can from the interior that you don’t need. Unrack your bike and dismantle the bike rack, finally remove your old school bag with the 700 lbs of textbooks from when you graduated high school ten years ago, and move your salt bags from the trunk into the garage because winter has been over for months. Every pound counts.
Tip #4: No Brakes
No, I’m not talking about the song “No Brakes” by The Offspring. I’m talking about driving like you have no brakes (in very certain circumstances!) to shorten the number of times that you’ll be required to accelerate. Specifically, I’m referring to your approach to stop lights. If you’re on your approach to a light and the light is red, let up from the pedal and let your vehicle coast to the stop light from as far back as possible. This will multiply the chances that once your car reaches the light, the light will have turned green and you won’t have to accelerate from absolute zero. This will then require less gas to get you back to the required speed for the roadway.
Tip #5: Control Cruise Control
Your vehicle’s cruise control can be an incredible tool for maximizing the distance you can go on one tank of gas but it can also be a huge enemy. On any flat terrain, try to use it as much as possible to ensure the most constant speed possible as your car will automatically “chug” the accelerator on an as-needed basis. On hills, however, it’s better to take things into your own hands. Cruise control is extremely sensitive to hills. As soon as it senses it’s on the climb, it’ll rev the engine and drain your gas faster than an NFL player drains their ridiculous signing bonus. Instead, drive manually on hills using the downward slopes to pick up free speed and then using that slingshot effect to travel as far up the next slope as possible without adding any additional acceleration.
Tip #6: Kill the AC
Your vehicle’s air conditioning is a huge tax on your gas mileage. If you’ve only got half a tank to get you through the week, cut the AC and stop trying to make your car feel like the ice planet, Hoth. Instead, roll up those sleeves and pretend you’re on a one-man hike through Death Valley. Or, maybe you could try using one of those cheap handheld fans that I survived off of on a family trip to Palm Springs when I was younger. And this rule also applies to the defroster. If you don’t need it, don’t run it. But for real, if you do happen to need it for safety reasons, don’t Ace Ventura your drive to work just to avoid using the defroster.
Tip #7: Aerodynamics
It’s time to drive like you’ve got no parachute holding you back. Roll those windows up, avoid speeding, and fix that bumper that’s hanging down from that accident in the parking lot last year when you tried to Tokyo Drift around that sharp corner. Eliminate as much drag as possible without becoming unsafe or illegal on the roadway.
Tip #8: Snail Mode, Activate!
When you’re stuck in stop and go traffic, it can save you some gas if you pretend that you don’t have an accelerator. When traffic moves, simply lift your foot off the brake and let your car roll to the next stop rather than giving it any gas. You may be the slowest person on the roadway, but hey, you weren’t really going anywhere fast to begin with. And this way, you’ll at least virtually ensure that you won’t run out of gas while waiting to get to your next destination. Bonus points if you can avoid peak traffic hours altogether by shifting your daily schedule to miss the worst times.
And that’s about it for today. While there are literally hundreds of additional ways to cut down on your gas consumption, these were the top eight that I thought made the most difference for the common driver (and those that were the safest to enact).
After applying each of these techniques to my daily driving habits (which were already embarrassingly conservative), I managed to pull an extra 8-9 mpg out of my daily driver. That’s a 38% increase from my currently listed average. Not too bad at all.
So if you’re looking to save some money between your trips to the pump (or if you literally cannot afford to put more gas in your car for another week), try some (or all!) of these tips. It just might make the difference between having to go beg your ex-girlfriend for that money she owes you (that she promised she was “good for”).
If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to continue to see more, consider hitting the follow button on the sidebar so that you can get email alerts when the next post hits the net (and who knows, maybe there will be a drawing soon where I send something cool to one of my email followers). Or maybe you can even forward it to your mom to show her how frugal you can be (oh, no you didn’t!).
Until next time,
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