These days, gas prices are going in only one direction: Up. And not everyone can afford to go out and buy a hybrid or electric car. For the rest of us, there are a number of things you can do to improve your car’s gas mileage and save money.
1. Don’t run the air conditioner too high. Any and all electric power your vehicle uses comes from the car’s engine, which acts as a generator. Stereos and GPS systems are trivial, but air conditioners use quite a bit of power. Running the air can have a significant impact – and running the air too high in your car will only make outside seem all the more unpleasant when you leave. Oh, and never run your air conditioner with the windows open.
2. Only use a roof rack or roof carrier when you absolutely have to, and if possible remove the roof rack when you’re not using it. Your car’s manufacturer spent a lot of time on making it aerodynamic – roof racks, especially when loaded, interfere with this and create drag. If you do need to pack on top of the car, invest in an aerodynamic roof carrier.
3. Keep your car in good condition and your tires properly inflated. Underinflated tires reduce your vehicle’s efficiency and may also be unsafe. Overinflated tires don’t help.
4. Resist the temptation to drive around looking for the cheapest gas prices. Lots of people do this, and they use far more gas looking for the price than they save by choosing it. Use your smartphone to work out the best combination of price and distance before heading to buy gas.
5. Buy gas during the coolest part of the day. Believe it or not – gas pumps measure volume and gas shrinks when it’s cool. Select the coolest time to buy gas and you’ll literally get more for your money.
Use these tips to get the most out of your gas – and when you do need a new car, consider that snazzy hybrid.