Fill up with a lower-octane gasoline.
Buy the lowest grade or octane of gasoline that is appropriate
for your car. Unless your car requires premium gasoline, filling
up your car with high-octane fuel is a waste of money. That
pricey premium fuel won't boost your car's fuel economy or
performance in the least, so skip it.
If you're not sure what grade of fuel works
best for your car, open up your owner's manual and take a
look. As long as your engine doesn't knock or ping when you
fuel up with regular unleaded, you're good to drive on this
much cheaper gas. Passing on pricey premium gasoline could
save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Don't top off. Don't bother topping
off when filling your car's gas tank. Any additional gas is
just going to slop around or seep out. Why waste your money
paying for gas your car won't use? Stop pumping at the first
indication that your tank is full when the automatic nozzle
Tighten up that gas cap. Gas will
evaporate from your car's gas tank if it has an escape. Loose,
missing or damaged gas caps cause 147 million gallons of gas
to evaporate each year, according to the Car Care Council.
So be sure to tighten up that gas cap each time you fuel up
Go for the shade. The hot summer sun
that makes the inside of your car feel like a sauna also zaps
fuel from your gas tank.
"If you let your car bake in the sun there's
going to be a greater amount of evaporative emissions that
take place than if you park in the shade," says Jim Kliesch,
research associate at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient
Economy and vehicle analyst for GreenerCars.com.
So park your car in the shade of a building
or tree whenever possible. And buy a good windshield shade.
A windshield shade blocks sunlight and helps to keep heat
out of the inside of your car.
Use your garage for your car. Got a garage?
Clear it out and make room for your car. Parking in your garage
will help your car stay warm in winter and cool in summer,
and you won't have to depend as much on your gas-guzzling
air-conditioning or defroster when you drive.
Pump up your tires. Don't get caught
driving on underinflated tires. Underinflated tires wear down
more quickly and they also lower your car's gas mileage.
"Tires that have low pressure offer more
resistance so the engine is going to work harder to keep the
car at 60," says Brian Moody, road test editor at Edmunds.com.
Your car's gas mileage may plummet by as much
as 15 percent. Driving on underinflated tires may also reduce
the life of your tires by 15 percent or more.
Check your tire pressure once a month.
Buy a digital gauge and keep it in your glove box. Compare
the pressure in your tires with the recommended pressure listed
in your owner's manual and on the placard in your car door.
Then inflate your tires as needed. Be sure to check tire pressure
when your tires are cold. A good time is early in the morning
after your car's been idle overnight.
Keep your engine in tune. Fixing a car
that is out of tune or has failed an emissions test can boost
gas mileage by about 4 percent. So be sure to give your car
regular tune-ups. You'll also want to watch out for worn spark
plugs. A misfiring spark plug can reduce a car's fuel efficiency
by as much as 30 percent.
Replace air filters. Keep a close eye
on your engine's air filter. When the engine air filter clogs
with dirt, dust and bugs, it causes your engine to work harder
and your car becomes less fuel-efficient. Replacing a clogged
air filter could improve your gas mileage by as much as 10
percent and save you 15 cents a gallon. It's a good idea to
have your engine air filter checked at each oil change. The
Car Care Council recommends changing your car's air and oil
filters every three months or 3,000 miles or as specified
in your owner's manual.
Use the right oil. You can improve your
car's gas mileage by 1 percent to 2 percent by using the manufacturer's
recommended grade of motor oil. Opt for motor oil with the
words "energy conserving" on the API performance
label. This oil contains friction-reducing additives.
Don't skimp on maintenance. Be serious
about auto care. Your car's performance depends on it.
"Always follow the manufacturer-recommended
maintenance," Moody says. "The car's designed to
run a certain way. If you neglect it, it won't be as efficient."
Obey the car-care guidelines outlined in your
owner's manual. For more auto-care guidelines check out this
maintenance schedule from the Car Care Council.