Top Ten BEST Ways to Conserve Gas (and Stretch Your Dollar)

The skyrocketing price of gas and oil doesn’t seem to be slowing down – AT ALL. The price of oil passed $110 a barrel yesterday. Ugh, just as the peak driving season kicks into gear. Soon the price jump will move into grocery and product costs as well, because you know they don’t ship that “Made in China” crap for free. What’s a poor homeboy or homegirl to do? Well . . . . conserve where you can – that’s about it. So some of these suggestions you’ve heard before, maybe all of them, but given the recent record breaking prices, they deserve repeating. Hear it enough times and it might sink in. Whereas before keeping proper tire inflation may have meant, “cool, I saved a few dimes” it now means “shit, I just saved enough to buy lunch.” So, shall we? Number TEN – screw the air conditioner, all that does is suck up precious SUV juice. If you’re going less than 45mph you’re better off rolling the windows down, but beyond that the incoming air just hits your rear window and makes your ride work harder. At that point you’re better off with the A/C, but it’s still best to just suck it up and endure the heat. When summer comes just drive with your shirt off (exept you ladies, you’ll cause accidents if you do this). Number NINE – maintain proper tire inflation, already mentioned it, so moving on . . . actually, make sure the car is properly aligned, too. And while you’re at it, make sure the engine is properly tuned. Make sure the spark plugs are good, the wires, air filter, etc. It all adds up. Number EIGHT – ditch the extra weight. No, I’m not talking about Aunt Bertha, I’m talking about the 80lbs of SHTF gear in your trunk. Shit HAS hit the fan, folks, at least in gas price world. Examine what you really need to carry day in and day out and ditch the rest. Number SEVEN – use the manufacturer’s specified octane level. Anything more is a waste of money. Here’s another, perhaps less known, tip: fill up in the morning. That’s right, cooler gas is more dense, meaning you get more when it’s cold outside. Number SIX – go on a cruise . . or use cruise control and make pretend you’re on a cruise. While you’re at it, use overdrive if you have it. Number FIVE – don’t idle – what are you rich!? Don’t start the car until you’re buckled in and ready to roll. That’s precious juice you’re burning up as you sit in your rumbling ride. Do you know how long it takes for fossil fuels to form? MILLIONS of years! Wait, you ARE rich? Huh, well send me some cash-o-la through the donate button, because I’m not. Number FOUR – combine trips. Think ahead, plan a little. Chances are you’re good at both if you’re a survival ninja, but if you’re not doing it now for the use of your ride, it’s time to start. Number THREE – don’t drive like the Golden Horde is on your ass. Don’t over accelerate, it wastes gas. Don’t tail gate, it leads to braking. Obey speed limits, because once you move above 55mph, your fuel economy plummets. Number TWO – When your ride dies replace it with a gas sipper or a hybrid ride. Hybrids qualify for tax credits, which helps to push down the purchase price. And the Number ONE BEST way to conserve gas – stay home! Or at least leave your ride at home and walk, bike, or carpool – assuming you can. Is there public transportation available? Will your employer allow you to work from home? These suggestions kind of go without saying, but you just gotta do it if you can. – Ranger Man BTW: Remember this poster? No, me neither. It was before my time.


7 comments… add one
  • GeologyJoe March 13, 2008, 7:45 am

    ‘hypermilers’ are another group stretching their gas budgets. Google it.

    As for the list: I think the windows v. a/c thing was looked into on Mythbusters. They also did one with tailgates up and down and with nets. Their results actually said tail gates up were better than down, contrary to conventional wisdom.

    The gasoline fill up in the morning isn’t really correct because most gasoline is stored in underground tanks where the temperatures only vary by a degree or two around 55 deg.F.

    Additionally, since the largest cars take up to about 45 gallons the volume difference between gasoline at 55 deg. and gasoline at 120 deg. F would be very, very minimal.
    You are right that the volume changes with temp’s. but it only becomes significant in above ground tanks where internal temps get pretty high in the sun.
    The big storage tanks like in Boston and elsewhere do volume calibrations for temps.

  • AL March 13, 2008, 8:03 am

    Good list, but optimal mileage isn’t 55 mph for every car – depends on the car’s gearing.

  • ryan March 13, 2008, 8:19 pm

    Carpooling and avoiding unneeded trips are the best bets. Swaping that expensive SUV ( and the loan )for a commuter car which u can afford to get with cash is a good idea.

  • Gregg March 14, 2008, 5:28 am

    Ok, I have a problem with the whole commuter car thing since I just don’t plain fit. Well except for a mini which actually has enough head room.

    As for the whole leave off the a/c and just deal with teh heat thing. I tried that one summer here in the kitchen of hades, aka Phoenix, yes it is hotter in Yuma, and I do NOT recomend trying it if you live in a desert. Employers frown on sweat soaked workers.

  • Guy March 15, 2008, 10:29 am

    1. Getting a vehicle with a Manual transmission helps. An automatic fluid clutch is less efficient than a manual plate clutch. Plus manuals have more gears which enable you to select a gear more optimized for the speed your driving at.

    2.Try to avoid using brakes when following behind traffic. Leave enough space between the car ahead of you, so that you don’t need to break every time the person in front slows down (for a mild curve). Ever time you step on the brake, your wasting gas. But please don’t take unnecessary risks (ie not stopping for traffic lights, stop signs). Use this method safely and wisely! It would be silly to wreck your vehicle just to save a few nickels on gas.

    2. Slow down early when you see a red light ahead. You want to avoid coming to a complete stop, since you’ll use extra gas when you accelerate back up to speed. This isn’t aways possible, but every now and then you can see the red light in the distance.

    3. Watch out for ethanol. Fuel with ethanol has less energy than fuel without ethanol. Ethanol has a lower BTU value than gasoline.

    4. Change your airfilter. a clogged airfilter reduces fuel efficiency.

    5. Avoid driving during rush hour. Ether come to work early or after rush hour. Congestion causes excessive use of brakes, consuming extra fuel.

    Rangerman wrote:
    “don’t idle – what are you rich!? Don’t start the car until you’re buckled in and ready to roll. ”

    You want to idle your car for 20 to 30 seconds if your car has been sitting off for a period (morning, or drive home from work). The Oil pools at the bottom of the engine. You need time for the oil to penetrate all of the engine surfaces to avoid excessive engine wear. You’ll also waste fuel when the oil hasn’t had time to pentrate all of the surfaces, because of the increased engine friction.

    If you want to save some energy during idle you can turn down the throttle level on the idle, as long as your using engine power to run accessories (ie A/C Defroster, etc). I wouldn’t worry too much about idle losses though.

  • Mike in Maine March 15, 2008, 10:39 am

    You left out “buy a diesel.”

    The hybrid nuts will not talk about the black sheep of the mileage geek crowd, VW TDI enthusiasts. If my 1997 Passat TDI got down to 47 mpg in everyday driving I’d start looking for mechanical problems. 52 is very common for those. Do the math on an 18 gallon tank and that is some hardcore bugout range.

    The inability to store gasoline for long periods, the complexity and vulnerability of a hybrid vehicle, to say nothing of the global environmental impact of all the toxic crap used in their manufacture, just removes them from the list of SHTF viability. Plus, will they last for 400,000 miles? Just think of running off home heating oil after TEOTWAWKI to boot. That’s self-sufficiency.

    Even with high diesel prices the cost per mile is much lower. Gas is sheeple fuel.

  • dave r March 16, 2008, 8:04 pm

    kawasaki klr650 two wheels less fuel.. long range… commute or bug on out….


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