Raising Gas Prices: How to Conserve Fuel Without Spending a Fortune

Gas prices go up and gas prices go down. This constant seesaw can put a wrinkle in any budget, leading consumers to carefully consider their next vehicle. But purchasing a new car isn’t always a practical or an affordable solution for some. Fortunately, fighting rising costs don’t require taking drastic action, as fuel-saving solutions are always within easy reach.

Save Fuel, Save Money

1. Keep tires inflated and control the load. Tires that are not properly inflated can cause control issues, possibly leading to an accident. Furthermore, when tires don’t have enough air, you may notice a slight drop in fuel efficiency, up to 3 percent in extreme cases. Moreover, an increased load due to items stored in the trunk can drain fuel, too. Always inflate your tires to the level recommended by the manufacturer, which is typically found on a placard located on the driver door jamb, inside the glove box or in your owner’s manual. Use a tire pressure gauge to check levels weekly. Lose the extra load, too, and your fuel savings will grow. A gas nozzle stuck inside a car's tank.

2. Maintain a properly tuned car. Although tuneups are a thing of the past, there are several parts that require occasional replacement, otherwise fuel economy might suffer. Change spark plugs, air filters and replace sensors as needed. For example, a faulty oxygen sensor will make your engine work harder, which consumes more fuel.

3. Drive with a light foot. Jackrabbit starts, hard braking and high speeds negatively impact your vehicle’s fuel economy. Ease up on the accelerator and ease down on the brake and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in fuel economy, up to 30 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. On the highway, use cruise control and observe the speed limit. Gas mileage typically falls rapidly once you pass 50 miles per hour, increasing consumption by 7 to 14 percent on average.

4. Choose the correct oil grade. Car manufacturers recommend a certain grade of motor oil for your vehicle. This helps your car run efficiently and saves gas. Shifting to another grade can lower fuel economy by up to 2 percent. That’s a small number, for certain, but when combined with the other fuel-draining measures, costs can add up.

5. Use the recommended fuel. Pull up to a gas pump and you’ll usually notice regular-, mid- and premium-grade fuels. Unless your car requires a higher and more expensive kind of gasoline (per the owner’s manual), don’t buy it. Other than performance models, most vehicles run ideally on regular fuel.

Combating Rising Gas Prices

Fluctuating gas prices don’t need to stress you out, as there isn’t anything you can do about them. What you can do is evaluate your driving habits, keep your car properly maintained and consider your future car purchasing decisions with an eye on maximizing efficiency. Who knows, maybe even an electric car is in your future?

Check out all the fuel and emission system parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to improve your car’s fuel economy, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.