12 Tips for How to Stretch a Tank of Gas

We can conserve gas with some car maintenance steps. For example, we can get 6 to 20 percent higher mpg with a properly tuned engine. Keeping a mileage record will tell us when our gas mileage is slipping, which is a signal for a tune-up.

Here are 12 more tips for how to stretch a tank of gas.

1. You can easily take care of a few items without going to a service station. One of them is the air filter. A clogged air filter leaves your engine gasping for breath and means you’re probably running with a “rich” mixture, that is, more gas and less air. Many department and auto stores carry air filters, and they are simple to change. A clogged air filter can cost you 1 mpg. Replace your air filter regularly.

2. Dirty oil cuts back engine efficiency, so make sure your oil is changed according to the car manufacturer’s recommended schedule. You can change your own, and buying your own oil is much cheaper. There’s a drain plug under your engine that will come out readily with a wrench. Have a bucket ready to catch the dirty oil, and remember to dispose of it safely.

3. If your fan belt is too tight, your engine is working too hard and wasting gas. The belt should give a little to finger pressure when the engine is not running. if it doesn’t, you can easily adjust the tension with a wrench.

4. Badly worn spark plugs can cost you as much as 2 mpg. This is probably a job for a trained technician.

5. The car has been a way of life for most Americans. There are alternatives. These include mass transit, bike paths, and carpools.

6. Heavier cars are more costly to run. A reduction of 200 pounds in automotive weight typically improves fuel economy by nearly 5 percent.

7. Use the air conditioner in your car as little as possible. It uses a lot of gas. Roll down the windows and get some fresh air!

8. Using cruise control can save gas. If you drive on the open road often, staying at a constant speed will save fuel.

9. If you are taking a trip, start early in the day while traffic is light. Plan to stop for meals at times when traffic is heavy.

10. Don’t let your car idle for a long time to warm it up. Also, don’t let your car idle for more than a minute after it is warmed up—this idling wastes more gas than restarting your car.

11. Do not rev the engine and then quickly shut your car off. This wastes gas. It also pumps raw gasoline into the cylinder walls. This can wash away a film of oil that protects the cylinders and will increase engine wear.

12. Check your tires. Your owner’s manual has important information on your tires, including the correct air pressure that should be in them. Underinflation of your tires can cost you as much as 1 mpg. Radial tires have 50 percent less road resistance, so they give you 3 to 19 percent better mpg.

Adapted from 547 Ways to be Fuel Smart, by Roger Albright.Copyright (c)2000 by Storey Communications. Reprinted by permission of Storey Books.
Adapted from 547 Ways to be Fuel Smart, by Roger Albright.


.5 months ago

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Carolt M.
Past Member about a year ago

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Robert O.
Robert O.3 years ago

Good tips especially now the price of gasoline is ridiculously sky high. Thanks Annie.

B Jackson
BJ J.3 years ago

Good ideas, do most of them already.

Adrea Craft-Gentry
Adrea Craft3 years ago

Great tips! Did not know that about the fan belt!

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago


Sara O.
Sara O.6 years ago

I have a bit of a commute to work, and it requires me to drive the highway. My Jeep isn't great on gas mileage, so I fill my tank every week. The air filter tip is one I'll try, for sure!

Alicia Nuszloch
Alicia N.6 years ago

thanks for the tips, most follow, comments are really good as well. Have an amazing week.

Connie L.
Connie L.6 years ago

i avoid idling the car and it's good manners since others will be breathing in the exhaust fumes while waiting

Les Murphy
Les M.6 years ago

thanks for the reminders