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10 Gas Saving Tips: How to Improve Your Gas Mileage to Save Money


Dan is a "backyard mechanic" who has always done his own auto repairs whether on motorcycles, boats, cars, or even motorhomes.

Improving Your Gas Mileage

Well, it's happening again—they're predicting the price of gas to reach $5 this year. It will behoove us all to get better gas mileage as the savings can be considerable.

This article is broken into two sections; general tips on optimizing your car for gas savings, and a second section of tips on improving your driving habits to improve your gas mileage. It is not unusual to see considerable savings from following these simple tips - even a 10% improvement in mileage can translate into hundreds of dollars each year, and how many of us can't use an extra few hundred dollars?

Whether your car is designed from the factory to get high gas mileage or a pickup truck that gets 15 MPG you can benefit from observing and following these simple tips to save gas and money by improving your gas mileage. It is worth the effort.

Optimizing Your Car for Fuel Savings

Fuel economy is always one of the things on the mind of the engineer designing a new car, but if you allow your car to deteriorate that engineers work won't be of much value. Pay attention to these simple things:

  • Tire Pressure. Tires flex as they move down the road, and the more they do the more energy is required. At the same time, a tire that has too much pressure will wear out rapidly and show decreased traction - neither idea is attractive. Considerable effort has gone into finding the right tire pressure that will give good tire life and traction while reducing gas mileage as well. Make sure your tires are at the recommended pressure.
  • Tune Up. Keeping your car tuned up per manufacturers recommendations is crucial. While the car may run, and seem to run well, if the car is out of tune or needs such parts as new spark plugs, it will result in increased fuel usage.
  • Maintenance. Separate from a tune up, oil changes and particularly air filters are required on a consistent basis. Air cleaners are often something forgotten by the home mechanic, but if your engine can't get enough air it will not operate efficiently. Keep a clean air filter in your car.
  • Repairs. On the occasion that your car needs repairs, either to the engine or the body, make sure they get done. An engine has many, many sensors that constantly check the operation of the engine and it only takes one defective sensor to seriously degrade performance. Needed body work will adversely affect air resistance and cause fuel mileage to degrade as well. This also brings up something else, in aftermarket additions to your car. A pickup, for instance, with webbing instead of a tailgate will see reduced mileage; that webbing will cost you every mile you drive. Manufacturers have worked hard to decrease air resistance; don't ruin it by changing the flow of air around your vehicle.
  • Empty the Car. It takes more energy to accelerate more mass. If your trunk is full of worthless junk that you don't have an immediate need for, empty it out. Many people are carrying an extra couple of hundred of pounds that they don't need to, and it can kill your mileage. Get rid of it. Be careful with aftermarket additions; unless you are prepared to buy extra gas every pound you add will cost you every mile you drive.
It won't do much good to put air in this tire, but then your own tires don't look quite like this one.

It won't do much good to put air in this tire, but then your own tires don't look quite like this one.

Improve Your Driving Habits for Fuel Economy

  • Slow Down! This has to be number one on the driving list. Air resistance is a primary factor in fuel mileage, and it increases exponentially with speed. A 15 mile commute at a posted seed limit of 45 MPH will take 20 minutes, while speeding through the drive at 65 MPH will take 14 minutes. Is that 6 minute savings worth a reckless driving ticket or an extra couple of tanks of gas per month? We've all seen the idiot weaving back and forth through 3 lanes of traffic, alternately mashing the brake and then the gas pedal, turning the energy they have given the car into waste heat from braking and then putting it back by using more gas. Don't do it.
  • Maintain your speed. As much as possible, maintain an even speed. Watch the stop lights and coast down from 45 to 30 MPH, for instance, rather than rush up to the light (burning gas all the way) and slam on the brakes. If you can make it through a light without stopping you will save a little gas each and every time it happens.
  • Accelerate and brake gently. You don't have to coast the last 3 blocks to a stop sign, but it isn't necessary to provide fuel to come within 50 feet at high speed and then mash the brakes to stop in time. There is a major difference between the fuel used at an idle (coasting) and driving; make use of it by coasting some of that distance to a stop sign. Likewise, it takes far more fuel to accelerate rapidly than it does slowly. Putting the "pedal to the metal" results in an inrush of fuel to your engine that it cannot burn efficiently at slow speeds, so be a little gentle on the accelerator when starting. Like speeding, the increased time is minimal, but it can really help the mileage you will see.
  • Plan your Trips. If you have several stops to make, try to make them in the simplest path possible rather than back-tracking and going for the same drive twice. Plan your trip to make a circle, hitting all the stops in sequence and driving the least distance.
  • Use the proper gas. While not strictly a fuel saver, using the right grade of gas can certainly help your pocketbook. Most cars today will run just fine on regular gas and do not need premium grades. The use of a higher grade costs more, but that's the only change you will see - there is no more energy in Premium gas than there is in Regular. Gasohol, on the other hand, will most definitely reduce your mileage as alcohol does not contain nearly as much energy as gasoline. If available at the same cost or just pennies more, the use of pure gasoline rather than the common mixture of 10% alcohol will result in a higher MPG figure.
A typical speed for many residential areas.  No need to do any more, either.

A typical speed for many residential areas. No need to do any more, either.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, all of this comes down to just a few simple ideas: maintain your car in as nearly as possible the condition it was in when received from the factory, drive slowly at a constant speed, and drive as little as possible.

A little common sense goes a long way, too. Many people will idle a car for 20 minutes in the morning to get it warm remove snow or ice. This can be very expensive (and result in a stolen car) - scrape the ice and wear a coat or empty that garage out so you can park inside. Don't leave the car idling while you run in for a mocha; while it used to require an extra shot of gas to start a car that is no longer true in modern cars. A couple of drops rather than a healthy squirt or two is all the extra that is necessary, so if you're going to sit in line for 10 minutes, kill the engine. While a warm engine will perform better and get better mileage, it doesn't make up for idling - start your engine, run it for a few seconds and drive off with gentle pressure on the gas for a block or two. No need to wait.

A final word - there are a very few cars that require slightly different techniques, although most of the tips here will help a great deal with all cars. Maximizing your fuel economy in the hybrid Prius, for example, can take advantage of certain techniques that other cars don't offer, and the tiny diesel engines used primarily in Europe can be slightly different as well. For the vast majority of drivers in the states, though, use of these suggestions will increase your gas mileage to a considerable degree. How much depends on you - give them a try.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Dan Harmon


Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 25, 2012:

Thanks, internetgeek. I just thought as gas prices rise it is something we are all probably interested in.

Nizam Khan from Hyderabad, India. on April 24, 2012:

This is really awesome Hub. You have listed great tips to save money on fuel. Congrats on "Hub of the Day" and voted up :)

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 22, 2012:

I'm afraid I have to agree with you on warming up a car in very cold weather. While we get snow where I live, it very seldom drops to 0 F.

While my car will get to operating temperature well before I've gone the 2 miles to the freeway, it probably wouldn't when the temperature is well below freezing.

In that kind of weather I would have to agree with you that it is best to warm the vehicle up before driving - at least enough to melt the windows clear. By then the engine will give good performance, you won't need to scrape ice and the car is at least halfway warm inside. It will cost fuel, of course, but that's better then a wreck from not being able to see or the car not responding as expected.

Good thoughts here - thanks.

Moon Willow Lake on April 21, 2012:

I found the last paragraph interesting as I didn't realize that there would be enough of a difference in vehicles from other countries to make that much of a difference. Thank-you for that interesting information.

Otherwise, the only thing I disagree with is the not letting your vehicle warm up in very cold weather part. I live where we typically have several feet of snow on the ground at any given time during the winter months, and just plain scraping would 1) be extremely difficult to do and 2) would take an extremely long time if you don't have the defrosters helping you out. Plus, after everything is scraped off, you need the defrosters and windshield wipers going or the snow and/or ice (sleet) will just build up within seconds all over again at the same time you're trying to clean off other parts of the vehicle; having the vehicle running with defrosters, heat, and windshield wipers on will stop a lot of the need to re-do everything. Plus, if you live only a couple miles from the freeway, I personally think it's a really good idea to have a decently warmed-up engine before going "faster" speeds (depending upon the conditions and/or plowing progress at the time). And, when the wind-chill drops in to the negatives, trust me you need to have a warm vehicle.

And, if you are worried about a stolen vehicle, that's simple: just lock your vehicle and use your 2nd key to get back in to it.

I know that not everyone deals with these types of wintery conditions, but I know we do where I am and this is just my humble opinion.

Other than that, I completely agree with the plan-your-trips part as I've always just done that naturally. :)

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 21, 2012:

My fault, I'm afraid. I had my mind on fuel savings and that was it - other concerns just went right over my head.

LOL on the nozzle. I make sure to tip it before withdrawing, but that's to keep the few drops in the steel nozzle downstream of the valve from falling out onto the paint. Or my pants!

I can just imagine someone turning that nozzle upside down in an effort to drain the hose by raising it further into the air, though. I wonder if they remember to squeeze the handle when they do it?

Larry Wall on April 21, 2012:

I am glad we came to some consensus--it does not always come to mind to cover every detail in every comment to a hub. If my first response was inadequate, I apologize. It is just one of the things I have been hearing for years. Another I keep hearing, which I refuse to give any credibility to, is that if after filling up you turn the gas pump nozzle upside down to get the last bit of gasoline left in the hose. The way the nozzles are designed, you would have to defy the law of gravity. Thus, I do not ever offer that as a suggestion.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 21, 2012:

You are mistaken, but only in that there is conflict here.

What you say here is absolutely correct - I simply did not understand the thrust of your earlier comment. There will absolutely be more VOC's released at higher temperatures and although cars and pumps are designed to minimize the release of these compounds they are far from perfect.

Just as you say, the release of these vapors will affect fuel mileage only very, very minimally but they DO damage the environment to a much greater degree and should be minimized whenever possible. Filling the tank at lower temperatures helps and with the millions of fill ups each day it is certainly worthy of consideration.

You say your information comes from oil industry experience; mine comes from a Chemistry background. At least we agree!

Larry Wall on April 21, 2012:


I can see we are going to have some conflict. You pretty much discounted my suggestion about when to fill up the tank. I said it would not make a significant difference, but might have some impact in the long run. I have worked in the PR side of the oil and gas industry for 22 years and this issue has come up almost every year. Gas pumps are calibrated to match the atmospheric pressure of the location. They are not calibrated to make changes as the temperature change.

Perhaps one of the most important things about filling up when it is cool is that it reduces the amount of VOCs, volatile organic compounds from being released into the atmosphere, which can contribute to the ozone problem.

We are told by many that every little step helps. My suggestion would be a small step. Keeping your car tune, keeping the junk out of the trunk and driving at a steady pace are the most effective ways of reducing gasoline consumption.

For the record, I no longer work for the oil and gas industry. My job of 22 years was eliminated in 2010 so I am certainly not on a soapbox preaching how wonderful the industry is. I am just relaying my experience.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 21, 2012:

You have my sympathies. I often make a 320 mile round trip to visit family and most of our cars have been able to do that with a few miles around town while visiting.

I believe that most diesels can run on biodiesel with some work and that can be a significant savings if it can be found. A good thought there.

mikeydcarroll67 on April 21, 2012:

Well, your car is probably better than mine. I can only go 150 miles between fillups and it costs me a small fortune to keep it filled all the time. The advantage of diesel is that I heard they can be modified to run biodiesel (which can cost $1.00 to $2.00 a gallon to make B100 (or straight biodiesel)).

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 21, 2012:

I drive a Prius hybrid but have never owned one of the small diesel cars. I love it and will probably replace with another some day.

As far as going further on a tank of gas, it doesn't work that way. While I get around 50 MPG around town (a little less on the freeway) I can only put about 8 gallons in from empty to full. I seldom get more than 350 miles per tank.

The flip side, of course, is that I can fill up for only $25 or $30 even at today's prices and go as far as someone that puts $70 worth in.

mikeydcarroll67 on April 21, 2012:

These are good tips. Perhaps also add a small hybrid or a diesel car can help even further. I've heard that these two types of cars can easily go further on a tank of fuel than their non-hybrid/gas-only counterparts.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 20, 2012:

We can all use tips for saving in today's economy, and you are more than welcome.

Margaret Minnicks from Richmond, VA on April 20, 2012:

With gas prices the way they are today, thanks for the gas saving tips.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 20, 2012:

Once more a large group of new comments. Thanks to all for visiting.

@Larry: This is mostly myth. There will be a very small savings as colder, denser gas will have more energy per gallon. The effect is getting more than a gallon gas for the cost of one gallon, but is is very minute and some pumps even take temperature into consideration.

@Laura: Yes, walking/biking is sometimes a reasonable option but for many it just isn't practical as it can be miles to anything. Still, I often walk to a nearby grocery store for small purchases.

AKqueencrab from Juneau, Alaska, USA on April 20, 2012:

Excellent article! I am guilty! No wonder I have bad gas mileage. I will definitely try to maintain even speed and not slam on my breaks. I happen to be one of the lane weavers you mentioned. Thanks for the tips.

am301986 from New Delhi on April 20, 2012:

Great article. Enjoyed a lot. Thanks a lot for sharing.. cheers :)

TheRightWord from Sunny California on April 20, 2012:

Excellent Hub. Drivers, also consider that maintaining your speed rather than accelerating and braking saves wear and tear and makes your brake pads last longer too. You can maximize overall efficiency by driving consistency.

Kimberly Shelden from Idaho on April 20, 2012:

very nice, well written.

autoelectrical from Philippines on April 19, 2012:

Nice article! although i knew some of the things you wrote, still i learned more from you! keep it up

LauraGT from MA on April 19, 2012:

Great hub! It's amazing how all the little things add up. There are also lots of other ways to save on gas, like consolidating errands or walking/biking if it's reasonable! Thanks for the great tips. Voted up and useful!

Larry Wall on April 19, 2012:

Like everyone said, it is an excellent Hub. One other thing you can do is to fuel up your car in the early morning or later evening, when the temperature is cooler. You not only reduce the emissions that result from the pumping of gasoline, you also manage to get more gas into your tank. If you pump during the hotter part of the day, you have some amount of vapors in your tank. It is not a significant amount, but over time can make a difference.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 18, 2012:

@GoodLady: Good to see you stop by. I'm certainly glad our US prices aren't anything like that; I couldn't make it. Fifty mile round trip work commute, 10 miles for groceries, 20 miles to visit my kids - we are a driving community where I live.

Yes, slowing down might be number one. It doesn't cost much time and just isn't worth it to fuel costs to save 5 minutes. Getting out bed 5 minutes earlier (groan) will solve that problem.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on April 18, 2012:

It's such a useful helpful Hub. Of course I should slow down. Of course I need to get my tires checked and probably everything else checked too. All your tips are right on. I really need to embrace them all,(thanks!) and stop complaining every time I fill up. Gas has reached ridiculous highs in Italy now. I mean MAD. (euro 84 to fill up a small Fiat) I need to go slower for a start.

Good to be getting to know you!

Voting etc. (oh and behoove????)

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 17, 2012:

Thanks to all of you that have thoughtfully left a comment - there are far too many today to make a reply to each one.

@ John Sarkis: Yes, the use of cruise control will help almost everyone. I tend to forget this now as best mileage in the Prius Hybrid is not achieved that way, but for nearly everyone else it is good advice.

@Steven: I know American gas is relatively cheap, but we also use a lot of it. Long trips, gas guzzling cars and trucks, etc. Believe me, when I fill the 80 gallon tank on my motorhome it hurts even at $4 a gallon.

@loued51: CNG is supposed to be pretty good, but only if you have a source of fuel. It isn't as easy to find as gasoline. I'm thinking my next car might be a plug in hybrid - I'm really happy with my Prius.

@Randy Godwin: You liked the "behoove" eh? Maybe you're right at that and staff likes the strange words! LOL.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on April 17, 2012:

Congratulations on getting HOTD, Wilderness! It's about time some of the writers who've been here awhile get chosen for their work! Great article and timely also!

But personally, I believe it was the word "behoove" which clinched it for you! LOL! Staff loves these sort of words! :P

Way to go!


rmcleve on April 17, 2012:

One of the few things we all have to do to pare down our living expenses is to make gas work for us. Our current average fuel efficiency is way too low. We can each do a few little changes to make our money go further. This is a great way to start living frugally.

hypnosis4u2 from Massachusetts on April 17, 2012:

I'm guilty of not changing oil and filters enough - never seems to be a good time to do it as I rush around, but maybe $4 or $5 gas will be my incentive!

Ken Kline from USA on April 17, 2012:

I begin a new career tomorrow and it is 40 minutes away and my big SUV needed these tips.

Thank you! Voted up! Excellent choice for HOTD! Congratulations on a job well done!

loued51 on April 17, 2012:

Great Hub-what about changing fuel to CNG (Compressed Natural Gas)?

Milli from USA on April 17, 2012:

Useful tips. Congrats on HOTD!

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on April 17, 2012:

Great advise. Very useful and voted up.

Congratulations on Hub of the day!

Cindy A Johnson from Sevierville, TN on April 17, 2012:

Great tips that we can all use! Thanks!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on April 17, 2012:

This is a great Hub! Congrats on this one. I'm sharing this with my FB friends. I try to plan my trips to do at one trip, but I'm bad about checking the tire pressure as often as I should. To keep ice from forming on the windshield, coat it with white vinegar the night before. Ice won't form. I just published a Hub about vinegar and that tip is included. I voted this UP, etc.etc.

steven on April 17, 2012:

I wish i have to pay your bills!

In Europe we pay 2 dollars for 0.26 gallons, so what are you complaining about??...

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on April 17, 2012:

Awesome article Wilderness. I printed it to take to work & share with the higher ups. Very good advice! Thank you . . .


The Reminder from Canada on April 17, 2012:

Great hub with useful info!

deeach on April 17, 2012:

The article was useful. It's worth to maintain the vehicle than to take it to repair after it is broken because it will always be expensive when fixing. Good post, and congratulations.

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on April 17, 2012:

This is great information! I was just thinking about learning more on how to improve gas mileage. Tonight I remove the boxed items from my trunk! :) Voted up and useful. Congrats on being HUB of the DAY!

Brandon Lobo on April 17, 2012:

Oh wow hub of the day congrats Wilderness ;) This is the 3rd hub getting the hub of the day from a question I asked. Just 2 questions that have hubs are yet to win hehe.

But, this was well deserved and was an excellent hub.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 17, 2012:

Great tips! John is right about cruise control, too. Obviously this only works well for extended highway driving, but it can still make a significant difference.

Congrats on getting Hub of the Day!

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on April 17, 2012:

This is an excellent hub! Additionally, using the cruise control helps one achieve high MPG as well.

Well written and congrats!


RTalloni on April 17, 2012:

Excellent info in a top-notch hub. Thanks for offering these valuable tips on improving gas mileage to save money. Congrats on the Hub of the Day Award, it is well-deserved. Voted up, and others.

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on April 17, 2012:

Congrats on Hub of the Day. This is very good advice and very well written. I just hope the pundits are wrong and the prices go down, not up. A girl can only wish :-). Voted Up.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 17, 2012:

I think you have touched on almost everything that one needs to do to save gas. Gas prices all over the world are in for a steep rise as before and this hub could not have come at a more opportune time.

Great tips and a very useful hub.

Voted up, useful and interesting.


Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on April 17, 2012:

Great hub. Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

kelleyward on April 17, 2012:

Great hub full of useful advice. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me so I can learn to save more money on gas. This is something that is useful to many people! Congrats on hub of the day.

just helen from Dartmoor UK on April 17, 2012:

Great hub, wilderness! We in the UK are buying our fuel at $8 (£6.50) or more a gallon, so economies are needed all round. I certainly do more walking nowadays.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on April 17, 2012:

COngratulations on the hub of the day. Your hub really deserves to be recognized. Your tips are truly practical. Bringing only the essential does help with saving gas. I used to have a lot of things in the trunk and it was just added weight. removing the unnecessary made a difference.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on March 21, 2012:

Thank you, Simone. I agree, and have always tried to drive as smoothly as possible both for the savings and to provide comfort to passengers.

A passenger, not expecting a change in direction or speed, can be jerked around continually by a careless driver and each time it happens there is a tiny increase in fuel consumption. It costs gas to turn a car, for instance, and weaving back and forth even in just your own lane will cost fuel. Maintaining your speed within, say a 5 MPH range by constantly touching the brake and then the gas (or both at the same time!) is uncomfortable and expensive.

One should always drive as smoothly as possible to improve fuel economy. Pretend you're driving on ice.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on March 21, 2012:

Fantastic advice, wilderness. And a lot of these tips (like cleaning out your car and going easy on sudden braking) make for a more pleasant driving experience!

Brandon Lobo on March 19, 2012:

Yup some obvious things do have to wait :)

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on March 19, 2012:

@lobobrandon: Thanks. You're right in that most people don't plan very well - they head for whatever stop is on the top of their mind. True, you can't always make stops in the most efficient order (ice cream from the grocery store will melt while shopping for clothes), but most of us can improve considerably here.

@Pamela99: Thank you; glad you found it of some use. Gas where I live is still low compared to the rest of the nation, but it is rising fast. It wouldn't surprise me to see that $5 they are predicting this summer, and it's going to hurt a lot of people. Including me, even though my family car is a Prius.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 19, 2012:

I don't know anyone who doesn't want to save on gas these days and you have made several very good suggestions. Rated up and useful.

Brandon Lobo on March 18, 2012:

Great hub ;)Most people don't plan their trips and hence waste lots of fuel!

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