21 ways to save at the gas pump

With the national price for gasoline over four dollars a gallon, many people will have big problems filling their car’s gas tank. Americans are now spending about four percent of their take home pay on fuel. Gasoline now rivals the costs that consumers pay for housing and food.

Below is a list of different ways consumers can save at the gas station.

  1. Use e85 ethanol – If your car is a flex-fuel compatible car, use e85. E85 is a blend of gasoline that consists of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. If you do not have a flex-fuel vehicle, consider using an e85 ethanol conversion kit. Using ethanol supports America and its farmers. Check your car’s operation manual to see if your car is a flex-fuel vehicle.
  2. Use natural curves to slow down – Using the ground to slow your speed seems more like a way to save your brakes. But if you don’t use your brakes to slow down, this means you will have to take your foot off the gas pedal sooner when approaching a stop.
  3. Use cruise control – Using cruise control will keep your car going at a constant speed. When you don’t use cruise control, your speed will vary by a few miles an hour as your vehicle travels up and down hills. If you accelerate too much, you waste gas. If you slow down then accelerate again you use more gas. Staying at a constant speed will save on your miles per gallon.
  4. Follow the speed limits – If you follow posted speed limits, you can improve your fuel economy by 7-23%. Different vehicles vary but gas mileage usually decreases when traveling above 60 miles an hour. Every 5 mph that you drive over 60 miles an hour is basically paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gasoline.
  5. Use cash when filling at the pump – Recently, many gas stations have been doing a little bit of underhanded advertising. They advertise a cheaper price on their large billboard, however, when you get to the pump you may see another, more expensive price, ten or so cents. That more expensive price is for people who pay with their credit cards, the cheaper price is for cash payments.
  6. Keep tires properly inflated – Under-inflated tires can reduce your miles per gallon by 0.4 percent for every psi drop in tire pressure of all the tires. When the tires are properly inflated they are safer and they can last longer. Properly inflated tires add up to 3% to your fuel economy.
  7. Remove excess weight – If your car has books, golf clubs, tools, clothes etc, take them out of your car. Extra weight means it takes more fuel to get up to speed.
  8. Keep windows closed – Having the car’s windows open all the time while driving creates drag. Drag reduces your car’s miles per gallon.
  9. Get regular oil changes – Having your oil changed every 3000 miles or every three months will help keep your engine well lubricated. A well lubricated engine runs smoother and more efficiently.
  10. Change your oil and air filters – Aside from improving your gas mileage by up to 10%, changing your filters regularly will help save your engine. Air filters remove and keep out impurities from your engine.
  11. Have your car tuned up – Keeping your vehicle properly tuned can increase your fuel economy by up to 4%.
  12. Wax your car – A bit of a stretch since the savings are negligible but keeping your car clean will reduce drag. The smoother the surface, the more aerodynamic.
  13. Remove roof rack – A roof rack, when loaded, can decrease a vehicle’s fuel economy by 5 percent. If the roof rack is not being used, it still can produce drag.
  14. Do not let your car idle – When you idle your car, you are simply wasting gas. Your car only needs about 30 seconds after it starts for it to be ready to drive.
  15. Use the correct octane gasoline – Check your car’s owners manual. If you are paying for premium gasolines, you may be paying five to thirty cents more a gallon then you need to be. Most cars on the road today needs the lowest octane gasoline. Using anything above that may be a waste since you will not get better gas mileage.
  16. Use the recommended grade of motor oil – Using your car’s recommended grade of motor oil will increase your fuel economy by up to 2%.
  17. Use fuel injector cleaner – Regular fuel injector treatments allows your car to clean its fuel injectors. Clogged fuel injectors means the gas does not burn as efficiently as it should so your car will require more to counter act the inefficiency.
  18. Use public transportation – If you pay taxes, you are paying for it anyway. Using buses and trains is much more friendly to the environment. However, it will reduce your gasoline budget but it may raise other costs.
  19. Walk, run, bike etc. – Short trips in the car may be unnecessary. If you’re driving around the block, try walking. It will save you gas and it will improve your health.
  20. Carpool – If you can find one other person to drive to your school or place of work, you improve your fuel economy by 50%. If you find three other people, you fuel economy improves 66%. And so on.
  21. Do one stop shopping – Don’t drive from store to store. The constant stopping and starting will waste gas.

Estimates for tune ups, fuel savings from vehicle maintenance, full roof racks, keeping tires properly inflated, using the recommended grade of motor oil, and speed limits are based on studies and literature reviews performed by Energy and Environmental Analysis, Inc., Washington, DC.

Air filter savings based on Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 1981. Automobile Fuel Consumption in Actual Traffic Conditions. Paris, France. Tests were performed before the introduction of computer-controlled, fuel-injection engines. The Department of Energy is currently researching the fuel economy effects of clogged air filters on modern engines.

e85 Ferrari

e85 Ferrari unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Monday, Ferrari revealed a e85 concept car that can run on ethanol. A Ferrari spokesperson said that it showcased the e85 ethanol car because of their engineering experience in Formula One and the bubbling demand for alternative fuel or flex-fuel vehicles in America.

The handsome Ferrari F430 Spider Bio-fuel utilizes E85, a blend of fuel that is comprised of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

While at the North American International Auto Show, Amadeo Felisa, Ferrari’s chief executive, described Ferrari’s commitment to drastically reduce their car’s emissions by forty percent by 2012.

According to the executive, Ferrari had prior experience with e85 in Formula one racing. When racing, Formula One has regulations that say all the cars used in races must use fuel that is comprised of 5.75 percent biomass.

On the other hand, The FIA GT and the American Le Mans racing series have somewhat stricter policies. Those races require drivers to use race car’s that operate with e10 or ten percent ethanol.

In order for Ferrari to create the F430 Spider Bio-fuel, Ferrari engineers had to do some minor tweaks to the car’s engine. The engineers had to make changes to the fuel injection system and they had to change settings in the Ferrari’s engine computer. This resulted in lower carbon dioxide emissions – a five percent cut – and as an added bonus, it also increased the car’s power output with no changes to the car’s weight.

This looks to be quite the Ferrari for anyone who is looking for a very sporty e85 car.

Ethanol – the best alternative fuel according to GM

In November of 2007, General Motors updated a report on a benefit to cost analysis for E85 ethanol, saying the report did not take into account many positive factors.

GM said it issued the change in response to a report made earlier in USA Today that proclaims ethanol E85 fuel loses its cost-benefit to diesel.

According to Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s Chief Economist, explained in a statement, “We believe ethanol as a renewable fuel is the best near-term alternative to oil as a transportation fuel and replacing gasoline with ethanol positively contributes to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

As of now, less than 1% of gas stations in the United States of America offer E85, and prices can vary greatly. Some fueling stations charge the same price for E85 ethanol as they do for gasoline, so when gas prices go up or down, E85 follows as well. In other parts of the country, predominantly in regions such as the corn belt where ethanol fuels are more easily attainable, the cost for E85 is usually about a dollar cheaper then regular gas.

According to GM, they are currently producing around 400,000 E85 flex-fuel model cars per year and that number will double that to 800,000 by 2010. GM hopes to produce more than 2 million FlexFuel automobiles by the year 2012.

GM also went on to say that aside from building the fleet of cars, they are also committed to help build everything necessary for ethanol to catch on.