When driving is a regular part of your daily routine, it’s important to be as thrifty as possible. Before you even start the engine, you already have an insurance expense. If you’re lucky, the vehicle is already paid off, and there’s no loan to repay.
Then you have regular maintenance on your vehicle – tires, oil changes, and any other upkeep to keep your car in optimal running condition. Filling your car up with gas is another matter.
Currently, gas is higher than it has been in recent memory. Unless you have the luxury of owning an electric car, there’s no doubt your wallet is feeling the damage from the hikes at the pump.
However, there are certain measures you can take to get the most out of your gas tank. Next time you fill up, hopefully, this article helps those dollars go a little bit farther.
Before we lay the tips out, it might help to dive into exactly how your gas tank and fuel system work.
Let’s take a look at how the fuel system works on your vehicle. The fuel tank lines to the engine are generally stainless steel, aluminum, or plastic nylon that won’t rust, corrode, or erode when exposed to fuel.
In most cases, the fuel line consists of hard metal pipes, with rubber or nylon hoses running from the metal pipes to the tank and fuel pump, then from the pump to the injectors. The flexibility of the rubber or nylon allows for a little bit of movement between the parts for higher pressure levels.
The fuel leaves your gas tank via the fuel pump. The pump does its job and pumps gas from the tank through a regulator and into either injectors or a carburetor. Most vehicles have been equipped with injectors since the late 1980s, so this is the most common scenario.
After making it to the injectors, the internal combustion process takes place.
The first step in the operation of your vehicle’s gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (IC) is converting stored energy from chemical bonds into kinetic energy that propels it down its path; this conversion process is known as “combustion.”
For your IC engine to convert chemical bonds into kinetic energy, one or more spark plugs must provide a steady current to the air/fuel mixture within each cylinder of your engine cylinder (this current then ignites the fuel within each cylinder).
Once ignited, this mixture then burns rapidly to heat and expand each cylinder to produce a force that propels your vehicle down its path and ultimately moves it forward. Without any type of ignition device (i.e., spark plug), your IC engine would not function.
The second step in the operation of your vehicle’s gasoline-powered IC engine is transferring this energy into motion through a mechanical device called a crankshaft that rotates within each cylinder. This rotating crankshaft acts as a piston, causing each cylinder to move upward against its stationary companion cylinder while simultaneously moving downward within its own chamber (much like water flowing downhill).
Since each cylinder is moving up and down relative to one another, these upward and downward movements press against the pistons inside the cylinders — thus forcing these pistons up against valves inside the cylinders.
This opens or closes each cylinder’s intake port — thereby allowing more or less fuel inside each cylinder as it rotates to keep these engines moving down their paths without stalling.
.A third step in the operation of your gasoline-power IC engine occurs once the combustion reaction begins. One of the key things that helps your IC engine to run at peak performance is having a good exhaust system, namely catalytic converters and mufflers.
These devices protect air quality around your vehicle by absorbing and reducing harmful chemicals contained in your vehicle’s exhaust fumes. One of the most critical things to remember regarding fuel and your vehicle’s fuel system is keeping the gas lines and components associated with the system clean.
By ensuring the fuel lines remain clean, you reduce the risk of clogging your fuel filter and damaging your fuel pump. When you operate with a subpar fuel filter or pump, you get gunk and debris in the gas tank, and before you know it, problems exist throughout the entire system.
The start of keeping your fuel lines clean begins with the type of fuel you burn in your car. How important is the type of gas you put in your vehicle?
Consider this: A typical car’s gas tank holds between 12 and 15 gallons. If you live in an area that uses mostly ethanol-based or methanol-based fuels in their standard gas supply, your gas is going to quickly become dirty within just a few fill-ups.
Once the ethanol or methanol has contaminated your gas tank or lines, it is not as clean as it would be if you got gasoline at a place where they add pure RON 92 into their standard formula. If you’re not sure what’s in your gasoline, then it’s time to visit a station near you that pumps pure RON 92. Your car will thank you for it.
The next time you’re thinking about getting gas, do yourself a favor and pay attention. The price may be higher than usual depending on what type of gas you buy and where you buy it from, but if you have the means and are interested in the long term health of your vehicle, then pay the extra few cents for RON 92—it’s going to make a difference in how quickly your car burns fuel and how much money you’ll end up saving over time.
What are some additional steps you can take to get the most out of your gas tank? Let’s examine the most important steps you can take to get the most bang for your buck out of each gallon of gas.
There are numerous ways to improve your fuel efficiency. We’ve all heard the standard tips – keep your oil changed, keep your tires rotated and inflated. While these all work and certainly should be practiced, the list below includes more technical tips that you may not have otherwise considered.
We even threw in some non-conventional tips just to mix things up. And just for good measure, since gas is so ridiculous right now, we may have thrown in an additional tip or two at the bottom. Read on.
When you drive, make sure you follow the posted speed limits and drive as responsibly and consistently as possible. Not only will this help you avoid getting an expensive ticket, but cool, calm, and collected driving also has a substantial impact on your fuel economy.
Consider the results of the following test:
In two separate vehicles, gas mileage was measured while cruising at 55, 65, and 75 mph. These vehicles were a Nissan Altima and a Toyota RAV4.
When speeds were reduced from 65 to 55, the fuel economy improved by 6mpg in the Altima and by 8 in the RAV4. The changes were fairly significant when switching from 65 to 75 as well.
After increasing 10 mph from 65 to 75, the Altima lost 7 mpg worth of efficiency, and the RAV4 lost 6.
This proves that traveling at higher speeds takes an incredible toll on fuel consumption. This might help put it in perspective: When you increase your speeds from 55 to 75, it’s equivalent to moving from a compact car to a full-sized SUV.
Okay, now we’re getting seriously technical. Don’t worry; this concept is fairly simple.
Whenever you have a roof rack installed, you should always remove it when it’s not in use. When you’re traveling on the interstate, more than HALF of your engine’s power goes into defeating the pull of aerodynamic drag. That’s an incredible statistic.
Carrying a roof rack when you don’t need it makes this job more difficult when it doesn’t have to be. Ready for some more tests?
The Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4 were both equipped with a roof rack, a rooftop box, and a tail-hitch rack. The biggest impact was when the vehicles were strapped with two mountain bikes on the roof.
The Altima sacrificed a whopping 13mpg, while the RAV4 lost 7. However, it’s important to note there was even a loss when the roof rack was completely empty. The Altima still lost 5mpg, and the RAV4 lost 2!
Allowing your car to idle longer than 45 seconds is like throwing cash out the window. You’re using fuel, and you aren’t getting any miles out of it. Don’t be afraid to turn your car off.
Despite the rumors you may have heard, it takes less gas to restart the car after 45 seconds than it does to continue running it. This is true even in the wintertime.
Avoid any prolonged warming of the engine, even on cold days. About 45 seconds to one minute is adequate. Individuals who let their vehicles warm for 15-20 minutes are wasting precious fuel.
This is one of the oldest debates in the history of vehicles. Does running the air conditioner burn more fuel, or does the aerodynamic drag with the windows down burn more fuel? The answer is they both kill your fuel economy.
Traveling at high speeds with the windows down can decrease your fuel economy by 10%. Additionally, running the air conditioner decreases your fuel economy by how much? You guessed it – 10%.
Consider rolling the windows down when you’re moving at slow speeds. When you’re on the interstate, put your air conditioner on a low setting when you feel like you need it. Alternatively, use the fresh air vents to cool the vehicle down while moving at high speeds.
Stay updated by checking fuel searcher websites online. These websites give you updates regarding the cheapest gas prices in your area in real-time.
Many of these sites also commonly include promotions and discount coupons that can save you even more money. Many of these websites come in the form of apps you can download on your phone. A lot of them allow you to scan your receipts, giving you points and discounts the more receipts you turn in.
This is another argument settlement. Another huge debate regarding gas is whether keeping your car full of gas or never letting it fall below half gives you better gas mileage. Many people swear by the fact that never allowing your car to dip below a half tank gives them much better fuel economy. However, the opposite of this is true. Consider the following information: If anything, the second half tank of gas would garner better fuel economy. Why? Because there’s less weight bogging the vehicle down in the form of additional liquid gasoline.
Keep the weight on your vehicle as light as possible. This means removing any junk you have stored in the trunk or backseats. For every 100 pounds, you remove from your vehicle, you get an additional 2 or 3mpg. If you want to save gas, travel light!
If you implemented all of these tips, realistically, you could get yourself an additional 10-15mpg. And this isn’t a far stretch. Achieving that goal is a very reasonable goal that could save you a lot of money at the gas pumps.
One final closing tip we have is to fill up now and consider keeping some reserves on hand. The more you can store, the better. This way, you can purchase gas when it’s at a lower price before it gets any higher.
It takes a little ingenuity, but it’s possible to get the upper hand at the pumps and save yourself a substantial amount of money!