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12 Tips for How to Stretch a Tank of Gas

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.

Read more: Life, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, Transportation

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.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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547 Ways to be Fuel Smart

The rising costs and shortages of oil, gasoline, natural gas, and electricity are front-page news. Instead of joining the panic, take effective action that will bring your household fuel costs under control with simple projects you can do right now to save now


+ add your own
10:46PM PDT on May 6, 2013

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

10:28PM PDT on May 6, 2013

Good ideas, do most of them already.

8:28PM PST on Jan 16, 2013

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

6:56AM PST on Nov 30, 2012


6:31PM PDT on Apr 4, 2010

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!

11:43AM PDT on Mar 31, 2010

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

2:56PM PDT on Mar 30, 2010

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

12:14PM PDT on Mar 30, 2010

thanks for the reminders

8:44AM PDT on Mar 30, 2010

On a modern car with fuel injection, a dirty air filter has just the same effect as a bit of stuff under the gas pedal keeping it from opening all the way. A really bad one might even improve mileage.
Engine oil can be selected to improve economy, but old oil is bad for wear, not mileage.
Pump your tires to at least the maximum rating on the sidewall. You can go higher if you dont't drive fast in hot conditions. The pressure in the manual is for a comfy ride.
Who says I can't change spark plugs? I've got the right wrench, etc, and I'm careful about dirt.
You don't need a bike path to ride a bike. Get a helmet with a mirror, instructions, and practise as you go until you can get anywhere.

9:15AM PDT on Mar 29, 2010

Try these out!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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