Fuel prices seem to fluctuate, but there's never a reason to not do what you can to save gas. Every penny that stays out of your tank is another cent that can go toward something considerably more interesting, and there are plenty of ways to save cash at the pump that don’t involve spending extra money.
Here's how to eke a few extra mpgs out of your vehicle.
Stay on Top of Maintenance
Staying on top of car maintenance is perhaps the best way to ensure that you're getting the absolute most out of every gallon, and that specifically includes getting regular oil changes. Oil becomes thicker as it ages, and the thicker it becomes, the more energy it robs from your engine, taking your better gas mileage with it. There is some evidence that switching to synthetic oil, which tends to resist breaking down better than traditional lubricants, can increase mileage as well. But take into consideration that synthetics tend to be a more expensive option.
Transmission fluid, transfer case fluid (for all-wheel drive vehicles) and differential fluid (for those with rear-wheel drive) should all be changed regularly to ensure better mileage. Just like your oil, these lubricants get thicker as they age, providing more resistance for mechanical parts.
Lastly, clean out that air filter. Your vehicle's engine operates by pulling large amounts of air into its combustion chamber, which uses an air filter to protect it from all the gunk the atmosphere. As it catches little bits of gravel, dust, bugs, and just about anything else you drive through, the filter can eventually get clogged, making it more difficult for your engine to breathe.
Keep Those Tires Fully Inflated
Aside from your car's aerodynamics, your tires provide some of the greatest resistance as you roll down the road. Checking that the air pressure in your tires matches the recommended amounts set by your manufacturer and making sure they're even are good steps toward saving pennies. If you're brave, you can very slightly over-inflate them as well, decreasing the area where your tires touch the road. This can increase your mileage, but it will also increase your tire wear.
Lose Weight and Streamline
All that junk in the trunk? Get rid of it. Extra weight can cause your vehicle to work harder and consume more fuel. If you're not using your roof racks, take them off as well. Those work against the aerodynamic shape of your vehicle, reducing fuel economy.
Modify Your Driving Style
Perhaps the biggest factor in extending a tank of gas is changing your driving style. Gently accelerating away from a stop, coasting when possible (if your vehicle is a manual) and not being aggressive in traffic can add two to three miles per gallon each time you fill up.
While these changes won't net you enough savings to cover your kid's college fund, they can mean a couple of extra dollars per month.