With gas prices continuing a painful uphill climb, we asked readers what they're doing to save money on gas. From carefully calculated driving routes and driving more conservatively to alternative means of transportation, we received some great tips.
It seems the old adage is true: When the going gets tough, tough drivers get creative. Here are some of the best responses - as well as some off-the-wall ideas you may never have considered.
Change the way you drive
1) Drive less.
2) I arrange all of my appointments, shopping, etc. on the same day (takes some scheduling and planning, but worth it).
3) Plan my driving pattern in a circle or semi-circle to my home.
4) Get on the Internet to find the cheapest gas in town, go to that gas station (even though it may go against my grain if it's one of the major ones).
5) Drive under 60 mph, not a lot of quick stops and goes (takes too much gas).
6) Use cruise control as much as possible.
7) Fortunately, or unfortunately, whichever way you may wish to look at it, I had to have my O2 sensors replaced, which improved my gas mileage tremendously. (By the way, I had an extended warranty, so the replacement would have costs me $1,309. It cost me $50--frugal me, huh?)
I don't freak out and rush out to spend thousands of financed dollars on a new vehicle that gets a few miles per gallon better fuel economy. I mostly ignore the inflated claims and buzz and continue to drive my older but well-maintained and reliable vehicles that I can work on and repair myself. Keeping tires inflated and air filters clean and vehicles in tune can also help. Emptying all the unneeded clutter and weight can also prove a plus.
CDI Chemist Guy
Park in the shade. Use a windshield reflecting screen if in the sun while parking. Minimize A/C use. Park on a hill. Set your automatic transmission to shift at the lowest rpms it will shift at (not the sport setting!) by tapping your shifter to nudge it to up shift. Use 5W-30 or 5W-40 [oil]. Put sunscreen on the inside of your windows. Pump your tires up slightly over the recommended maximum--since you fill tires when they are low pressured you will average the correct maximum pressure over time.
My husband and I don't race from one stop light/sign to the next. Only do all errands and shopping on one day a week. We drive no faster than 65 (even if the speed limit is higher), sometimes 60, depending on when we need to be somewhere. We leave earlier, take our time and not feel so rushed. Unfortunately living in a rural area, we don't have any transportation services (rail, bus, etc.). So, we do what works for us. We keep up with car maintenance. However, we started doing this when gas prices reached $2/gal. We made necessary changes to help us save money.
Avoid traffic lights
No sympathy for ins
There is an EPA city/highway rating for a reason, and the reason is that city driving is so inefficient, which is largely due to traffic lights. How many people have seen a long line of cars have to stop at a traffic light, so that one or two cars in the perpendicular lanes of travel can cross an intersection? What a tremendous waste of gas that is! When you drive home tonight, look at the traffic lights and the pattern they operate within. Is the city using traffic lights as speed control? Are the timers off such that driving the speed limit, you are hitting each red light instead of green ones? Cities should be required to install intelligent traffic light timers on all busy intersections, and ensure they are operating to increase efficiency, not be an electronic nanny to regulate speed limits.
CDI Chemist Guy
Another way to reduce societal petroleum consumption is to never stop at a traffic light in the right lane. If everyone did this, then no one would have to wait to take a right on red. Is this too much to ask of selfish people engrossed in B.S. conversations on cell phones and oblivious to traffic situations?
I've eliminated out-of-town driving trips, and also try to save a drop or two by coasting toward stop lights, gently accelerating away from stops, and so forth. Unfortunately, my city has sprawled quite a bit, but hasn't improved the mass-transit system accordingly. The main change I've made is in budgeting: gasoline as a line item in each month's budget, and if we go over budget near the end of the month, the extra money has to come out of some other category.
Use alternative transportation
Since gas prices started to rise after Hurricane Katrina, I've been biking and using the bus most days to commute. Now, the car stays in the driveway everyday and I only use the bus or bicycle! I'm worried about the bus passes increasing in price also!
Moved to downtown Portland and enjoy free light rail and streetcar access. So I walk and take public transportation. There are Zipcars everywhere (including my building). If I need to go out of town or need a car for longer than a few hours, I just rent a car. I pay nothing for gas and I still get around fast and efficiently.
Seriously, how many of you who read this are in a position to make a change. When gas prices here started approaching $4 a gallon, I decided it was time to ride my bike to work--18 miles each way for a total of 36 miles daily.
Basically I don't drive. Two years ago I rented my condo that I can't sell. I use the rent money to live a mile from work. I walk or bike to work.
the average jean
I live in northern California and I am on a fixed income. I sold my truck and got a used Honda. I am starting to walk to the store on days I can and many days I don't go anywhere. I am looking for work so I try to use the car only when I go for job interviews. This is very hard to do because sometimes my choice is do I buy groceries or do I get gas. My kids who are grown are going through the same even with jobs. I walk when I can when it comes to getting something from the store - it's good exercise. I try to plan ahead with trips to farther places or I will meet halfway when picking up the grandkids. Sometimes if I go to visits I stay over to save gas.
My pickup is parked unless I need to haul something or I need to drive it for work. I limit my trips away from the house and take my motorcycle when I can.
Due to other circumstances we moved to a one-story dwelling, which is located within 15 minutes of groceries, retail, restaurants, etc. A tank of gas goes for about two weeks with picking up the grandkids, errands and work. Depending on weather, we can ride[bikes] much of the time, get our exercise and still put money on a gas credit card. Can't forget the vacations, which we will not give up because there is too much to show the grandkids. So basically X amount of dollars is budgeted for gasoline, which we will use for our trips and ride our Townies like kids. The reason for the Townies is because for older adults this bike lets me ride in an upright position and allows both feet on the ground--safer for the 60s gen.
Work from home
I've starting working from home one day a week, which makes a difference (even though I drive a hybrid). I am going to start doing it two days a week, but for now I am making sure I can stay motivated for the one day.
I work from home once or twice a week.
At the beginning of each week I review all the errands/activities I'll be doing that entails my car. I then look at my food shopping, banking, gym workouts, visits to friends and/or relatives, etc. and "lump" them logistically. By coordinating the activities into one or two days, it cuts down on time distances and the number of driving miles, thereby saving gas.
I save gas by staying at home with my children and raise them rather than driving 100+ miles a day for work and daycare. Saves lots of money on gas and toll-road expenses. My husband takes my car to work, and I carefully plan my errands.
On days that I have several things to do, I take a 3 x 5 card, note where I need to go, and put them in number order so that I don't have to cross traffic, still make it by closing times, and knock off five-minute stop lights. It is all the stopping, idling that wastes gas.
I bought a 22-year-old Cushman Truckster to run errands in our small rural community. It's a former Chicago police vehicle; has a small cab, trunk, windshield wiper, three-speed transmission, insurance, license plate and three wheels! But, it gets over 50 mpg and a bunch of looks. Who cares about the looks, though? I just laugh as I pass the gas station. Fill-ups are $5-6.
I purchased a Chevy Volt. I did have to spend a bit upfront but can now drive back and forth three times between charges and have yet to spend a dime on gas.
CDI Chemist Guy
The absolute best way to reduce your gasoline costs are to HEDGE that cost. You can't control the price of gasoline, but you can buy stocks in companies that increase in value with the increase in gasoline/petroleum prices. An example would be as follows: You drive 12,000 miles/annum. You get 12 miles/gallon in your oversized, jacked-up, empty F150. So you buy 1,000 gallons/annum. That's approximately $4,000 dollars of gasoline/annum at today's prices. So go out and buy $4,000 worth of stock in Chevron or similar, you will get a 2.5 percent dividend, and the stock will go up fairly closely with the price of crude oil. If, for example, your gasoline bill next year is $4,800 not the $4,000 anticipated, you will have to pay that additional $800…but your Chevron stock will probably go up a similar percentage so you'd have an offsetting gain of maybe $800 in your Chevron stock. Of course the opposite can happen. If nothing happens--no changes in petroleum prices--you get to make the 2.5 percent Chevron dividend, approximately $100/annum. Viewed this way, oil stocks are your friends.
I parking-lot drive. I hate getting out on Main Street only to go to the next shopping center. I can go from the corner of Main, through the back lot of a restaurant, liquor store and an office building, pull back into traffic sans waiting for a five-minute light. Once on the street I can pull into the next mall, go to the pharmacy, movie and fabric store, pull back out onto the street and go to the next that is the bank, grocery store, mail drop-off, my husband's work, and several other stores. Pulling into the back lot, I can go to the farm store and get the animal food. Pulling out I finally have to stop at a stop light to go home.
Buy the same and drive much less. We're on a fixed income so no room to spend more. We now drive less and eat less, reducing meds is not a option. Also we don't mow grass as often.