February 17

Make the Most of Your Fuel Tank: Stretch Your Time Between Fill-Ups

Last Updated on May 12, 2022

Fuel is expensive and keeping up with the price is like riding a roller coaster. Do you remember the first time the price of gas hit $4 per gallon? Though things have been calmer (and more affordable) in recent years, according to GasBuddy, the average gas price is expected to spike to $2.49 per gallon in 2017. That’s 36 cents higher than last year’s average.

None of us want fuel costs to skyrocket. What’s more, many of us are becoming more conscious of the impact our driving has on the environment.

Replacing your vehicle with an electric or hybrid model might simply be impractical for you and your family, if not extremely difficult. However, there are other ways to make the most of your gas mileage and minimize your driving emissions. Read on to find out how you can optimize every single drop of fuel in your tank.  

1. Maintain your vehicle regularly.

We all understand the impact proper maintenance has on the performance of a vehicle, but did you know that a poorly maintained car can burn up to 20% more fuel?

Make sure your vehicle gets regular check-ups so it is rolling smoothly. Don’t skip or delay oil changes. Underinflated or overinflated car tires are not only fuel inefficient but also dangerous. The same goes for bad wheel alignment and dirty air filters. These are small fixes but they make a significant difference.

2. Invest in a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

If you want to replace your current vehicle, consider a high MPG car, even if it is used. You may be able to save a significant amount of money.

Do your research carefully. Consumer Reports has put together a fantastic list of the best and worst cars based on fuel economy. This will help you get a better picture of which vehicle you should aim for based on the typical amount of driving you do.

3. Pick the best time to buy gas.

You may have heard a rumor suggesting it’s better to fill up in early mornings or late evenings when the weather is cooler. Indeed, there is a science behind this seemingly nonsense story.

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Like other liquids, gasoline expands when it warms. When the weather is hot, fuel’s volume will increase and the density of the fuel concentration (which measures the heaviness of an object or substance) will decrease. Gas pumps measure the volume of gasoline being pumped into a tank, not the density, ultimately meaning you’re paying more for less gas when the weather is at its warmest.

So, it makes sense to choose the coolest times of day to fill up, right? Unfortunately, that’s still not quite the entire picture. In reality, fuel is usually stored underground, where there is a slight temperature variation. As a result, colder temperatures won’t make a major difference to your wallet. A few cents of difference is frankly not enough to justify changing your schedule and altering your routine.

That said, there is a day of the week worth the wait – Wednesday. Service stations often raise fuel prices on the weekends. Statistically, Wednesdays are the best days for the cheapest gas prices.

4. Watch out at gas pumps.

After the pump shuts off, many people tend to take the hose out immediately. A lot of gasoline is wasted because of this simple misdeed. Keep the hose in the tank a little longer. Remember, you paid for it – make sure you get the last drops of fuel into your tank. Afterward, properly seal your gas cap.    

Avoid overfilling your tank. Have some faith in the auto shutoff. We cannot stress this enough – adding more gas into a full tank is a disaster.

The excessive gas will flow into your charcoal canister or carbon filter, which is only responsible for evaporation. The consequences include poor performance, a potentially damaged engine, and expensive costs to replace the affected areas. In addition, a broken carbon filter and extra gas spilled on the ground are nothing but detrimental to the environment and people’s health.

5. Always think one step ahead.

Rush hour is not good for your gas mileage. Scheduling your trips in advance, if possible, will not only allow you to avoid bad traffic but also shorten your commute time.

Optimize your rounds. Instead of making multiple trips and going back and forth, try combining them all into one. Taking several short trips requires the car engine to cold-start every time, which is a big waste of gas. Not to mention, it is also unproductive.

6. Avoid overloading your vehicle.

Think twice about what you definitely need for your journey. Try not to stuff your vehicle with unnecessary objects. An extra 100 pounds can reduce your fuel efficiency by around 2%, especially during acceleration. Ditch everything that might become an excessive drag for your vehicle – it simply wastes fuel.

7. Drive steadily when possible.

An essential part of achieving fuel efficiency is to drive at a constant moderate speed. This is not only more relaxing for you and your passengers, but it is also safer and better for your vehicle. Accelerating too quickly and driving aggressively cause strain to your car, limiting fuel economy. The same thing applies to slowly crawling up to speed.

If you’re driving through the city, this can be tough. Stop-and-go traffic (whether it’s rush hour or not) just isn’t good for fuel efficiency or the life of your vehicle.

A good rule of thumb is to get to 50 MPH within 15-20 seconds. Once you get up to this speed, keep a consistent pace. If you struggle to maintain a steady speed, use cruise control. However, do not use cruise control when driving through especially hilly or mountainous areas. You will waste a lot of gas downshifting to lower gears in order to match the speed you have set.

Though it can be challenging, there are still some things you can do to improve your fuel efficiency. Start implementing these tips into your driving routine and you’ll soon be adding a few extra pennies into your own pocket.


buying used cars, fuel efficiency, gas, hybrid, MPG

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