With the price of a gallon of gasoline climbing higher than most of us Americans find comfortable, any and all driving tips to save on fuel consumption helps. I deliver pizzas on the weekends, so I not only know how important saving money at the gas pump can be, I also know what to do to accomplish this!
Most of these tips are simply common sense, and can be found all over the internet. This is the list of things *I* do to get over 30 miles per gallon in my 2000 Ford Escort ZX2 5-speed while delivering pizzas:
- If you have a manual transmission, use that to your advantage! I drive up and down hills all the time, and am in the habit of pushing in the clutch and coasting downhill. I also push in the clutch when I see the traffic light has turned red. Why use gas when you can let gravity work? Even if you drive an automatic transmission, you can ease up on the accelerator (gas pedal) on the downhill. (Note: It is my understanding of the law here in Tennessee that this is legal as long as you keep the transmission in gear, not in nuetral!)
- Driving on the street is not a drag race! There are very few times you should need to gas your car off the line after the light turns green. Smooth and moderate accelerations instead of the quick stomp the pedal routine will add up.
- Speaking of speed, there is really no need to exceed posted speed limits. In addition to the risk of getting a speeding ticket, driving the speed limit or just under it will save on fuel consumption. Why speed anyway when you will end up stopping at a red light quicker in town?
- Routine maintenance WILL save you on gas! Can I say this enough times? Get your oil changed regularly (especially if you drive a Ford LOL they are picky about that), have your tire inflation checked regularly, and have your air and fuel filters changed on a regular basis. Tune-ups can do wonders for your vehicle’s gas mileage when done on schedule.
- On a similar note, don’t let repairs go! If you know something is wrong with your motor, drivetrain, or suspension get those fixed. I personally don’t consider air conditioning to be a necessity, but different people have different tolerances there. If you are not mechanically inclined, have your mechanic check your belts and hoses and other moving parts.
- Don’t carry around heavy stuff in your car unless necessary. The more weight your engine needs to haul around, the more work it needs to do and the more gas it will need to use. I try to limit the Pizza Taxi to only toting around three textbooks per semester.
- Plan your route not for the shortest distance per se, but the one with the least amount of stoplights and idling for an opening in traffic. One thing I learned quickly when I started delivering pizza is that sometimes the “longcut” is much quicker and easier than a “shortcut” that may save you on the odometer.
Those are just the ordinary basic things that everyone could do to save a little bit of money at the gas pump. If you feel bold you might want to google the term “hypermiler” but I can’t recommend all the techniques you’ll find in those links. Some more tips that might help you (and again are common sense):
- Combine errands and trips to reduce the number of times you need to drive.
- Carpool with a coworker. Even if you only do this once a week, that is 20% less driving, and you’ll have someone to chat with for the commute.
- On the flip side, offer to give your coworkers rides for a little bit of gas money. If everyone riding with you chips in, that cuts the amount out of your pocket.
- Walk or bicycle if your destination is close enough. This one might even help with a fitness goal!
- Use public transportation if available.
These are all things I have used or do use. I see no reason to pay more for gas for my little car than is absolutely necessary. Now it’s y’all’s turn: What are your tips for getting the best gas mileage out of your vehicle (and saving money at the gas pump)?
Photo uncredited, received via email from my dad.