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Published on May 7th, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans


5 Fuel Saving Strategies

Recently it seems that every day Americans go through the ritual of shuddering in their car seats as they drive by gas stations and ponder when rates will level out.

Though you cannot stop the squeeze at the pump, you can fight the damage to your wallet and reduce the reliance on oil by following these tips:

Boost Your Fuel Economy

  • For starters, there is no reason to patronize a gas station that is more costly than the others. Some gas companies tout “special formulas” in their product that account for higher prices, but this is a myth. Independent gas stations are generally less expensive and offer the same quality of gasoline as common oil companies. In other words, loyalty to one gas station or company (instead of shopping around) will only cost more in the long run.
    Also, some car owners unknowingly purchase premium grade gas when their cars don’t require it. Unless it’s specified in the car manual or recommended by your mechanic, don’t use premium level gas.

    Do try to find MTBE-free gasoline if possible. Though MTBE is only one of many gasoline constituents of conern, it is a carcinogen that mixes easily with water, posing the potential to pollute groundwater sources and render them non-potable. Visit the MTBE Wiki for more detailed information.

  • With prices moving like a crazy roller coaster, consumers should use the Web for guidance and visit sites such as:
    •, which offers a National Gas Temperature Map that looks like a weather map
    • AAA, Mapquest, and MSN feature similar tools specific to your locality

    When you go to the pump, plan to purchase gas Mondays through Wednesdays during early mornings or at night. Prices tend to rise in anticipation of weekends, especially during the summer months.

  • Slow down!
    In the 1990’s, speed limits on freeways increased as people became impatient with the 55 mph standard. As people became accustomed to higher speeds, gas mileage suffered resultantly. Today, 55 mph seems crazy, but a 2005 experiment by the San Francisco Chronicle tried it out in a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu.

    The experiment revealed that driving at 55 mph, they achieved 35 miles per gallon (mpg). When they accelerated to 70 mph, their fuel efficiency dipped to 25 mpg. For every mph above 55 mph, they lost 1% of their fuel economy. Although 55 mph might be excessively slow, and anger other drivers, it puts into perspective that slowing down is safer and much easier on the wallet.

  • Regular maintenance is an under-appreciated way to increase fuel efficiency.
    Regularly check your air filters, spark plugs, and tire pressure. For tires, every pound under the recommendation accounts for a loss of 2% in miles per gallon. That totals a significant loss over time at the gas pump.

    Also, some amenities help, such as a GPS system, which can cut down on driving in circles if you get tend to get lost. Cleaning out the trunk gets rid of unnecessary weight that can drag a car down and impact fuel efficiency.

  • Other effective ways to avoid the pump: walk, bike, use public transit, and carpool as much as possible.

Gas prices seem to be spiraling beyond our control, but following these tips and learning more can empower you. And hopefully, over time, our entire transportation infrastructure will evolve so that future generations will look back and wonder why we were ever so crazy to pour our hard-earned dollars into supporting the oil economy.

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