'Zen Driving' and Other Gas-Saving Tips

Electric Scooter

Electric scooters are just one of many ways to save money. Valery Hache/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Valery Hache/Getty Images

With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, people are finding innovative ways to save money at the pump. But some techniques are based more on myth than fact, says Jon Linkov, managing editor for autos at Consumer Reports. Filling up in the morning, for example, will only help you save one-tenth of 1 percent, so focus on more significant savers, like the following:

Linkov's Gas-Saving Tips

1.) Check your tire pressure once a week.

2.) Keep your car well-maintained.

3.) Don't carry extra weight in the trunk.

4.) If you are in bad bumper-to-bumper traffic, turn off the car.

5.) Driving faster than 55 mph hurts your fuel economy, so try slowing down.

Listeners Offer Gas-Saving Tips

Day to Day asked listeners to share their methods for cutting back on gas. Some of the highlights from their e-mails:

Walk

"Back in the fall, the principal at the school where I worked challenged the community to 'get fit.' I decided to start walking to work. It is a 3.2 miles round trip. Since the beginning of October, I have walked over 300 miles, through the cold and snowy winter of Salt Lake City ... I have also lost 20 pounds. I have stopped using my gas snow-thrower and gas mower. It saves some gas ... and helps me get fit, too."

— Nicholas Bielaczyc

Move In with a Significant Other

"To save gas, I'm moving in with my girlfriend. She lives 340 miles away. Of course, there is a lot more to this decision than just gas prices, but [we're] both looking forward to spending the money we've been spending on fuel and maintenance on other things."

— Luke Scharf

Work from Home

"I've worked 100 percent from home since 2004. I have a favorite restaurant about three miles from my house and other than going there frequently, I hardly ever drive. On the weekends I might visit a friend across town or something, but usually I stay home. I fill my tank about one time per month if even that."

— Kathleen Mattson

Carpool

"When you are going to the same place at the same time with other people — carpool. I carpooled to Salem, Ore., from Portland, Ore., everyday during the legislative session last year with three to four other women. It was fun, we were doing a good thing and we became great friends."

— Eva Rippeteau

Push the Car

"If the gas line at Costco is long, turn engine off (less polluting too). As cars 'inch' forward, get out and push up then stop, get back in, wait, get out, push up, stop. On level ground, it should not be too hard to push ... Not recommended for women with high heels or long fingernails."

— Les Greene

'Zen' Driving

"We are changing our driving style and learning the art of zen driving. We drive slower, accelerate slower. Our teenage daughter started doing it first and we figured if she can do it, we can do it. An extra benefit — it calms you down."

— Laura Schumacher

Drive a Motor Scooter

"I commute to and from work on a motor scooter that gets 90 mpg, grinning as I drive by gas station after gas station."

— Siobhan Ross

Take the Bus

"I stopped driving to work everyday and bought a monthly bus pass. Even if I drive one day a week to work, it's so worth it. The bus ride is pleasant. I either listen to the iPod, talk to fellow passengers, or do a Sudoku puzzle or nothing at all. Anything not to drive to work and sit in traffic, and have to watch the meter dip down to 'E'."

— Yasmin Revilla

"I recently began avoiding driving my gas-guzzling Suburban for the first time and tried public transit. I was spending about $400 a month (at roughly $100 a week at the pump for a 30-gallon tank). I now spend $68 a month for a transit bus pass. I only regret that I didn't try this sooner."

— Gordon Churchill

Ride a Bike

"I bought a bicycle, which I now ride back and forth from both work and school (each a few miles away). Not only is it FASTER to bicycle home during the evening rush hour, since my purchase on March 15, I've spent only one-quarter of what I used to spend on gas."

— Stephen Cummings

Avoid Traffic

"I have adjusted the time I leave to and from work to avoid the heaviest traffic around Boston. I also get traffic reports e-mailed to me from traffic.com and schedule meetings to take place on my way to or from work."

— Brandon Diem

Try a Zipcar

"[I'm] selling my small SUV and buying a scooter! When I have my kids with me, I will use a Zipcar."

— Lizbeth Seebacher

Buy Online and Remove Extra Weight

"Combine driving trips and buy online ... get out the junk from your trunk! ... Don't carry heavy things in your car, including relatives. They need to walk."

— David Rosenberg

Make Lists

"To conserve gas I ... try to avoid spur of the moment trips, and make lists of what I plan to do when I'm out. I think I'm saving gas and I know I'm saving time and money. By forcing myself to plan I found I am spending less time in the car and eliminating a lot of unnecessary purchases."

— Hank Miller

Plan

"I plan out my meals for the week, then make one trip to town to shop for groceries and run errands. If I forget something, my husband can pick it up on his way home from work. One tank of gas in my truck can last a month."

— Jeanette Bider

Give Up the Car

"I am also trying to move closer to downtown ... we are fortunate in San Diego to not have cold weather, and so there is little to worry about without a car ... Life without a car is completely possible and extremely liberating — no DMV, no cops that can take away my freedom, no possibility of accidents, no insurance payments, and NO GAS PAYMENTS! It was the best thing I have ever done!"

— Benjamin Doyle

Pay Attention

"To ensure that I am maximizing the fuel efficiency of my vehicle, I switched the onboard computer from constantly displaying the temperature and compass direction to displaying the average fuel economy in mpg. I have taken note as to what speed on the highway my vehicle becomes inefficient and how using cruise control can help increase my mileage."

— Lynn Santosuosso

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.