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Save Money on Gas: Tips for Better Gas Mileage & Fuel Economy

Why spend more at the gas pump when you can easily spend less? Follow these simple tips and you'll see a noticeable difference in your fuel costs. The savings are based on driving 20,000 miles per year, in a car that gets 20 mpg, with gasoline priced at $3.75 a gallon.

Save $900 by keeping your tires at the right pressure

Change spark plugs before they're due

Save $350 by changing your air filter early and often

Save $177.50 by keeping your car aligned

If your tires are bowed out of alignment by just .017 in., it's the equivalent of dragging your tire sideways for 102 miles for every 20,000 you drive. That’ll cost you $187.50 a year in wasted gas. It will wear your tires faster, costing you $70 more a year.

Here’s an easy way to check your alignment without taking your car in to the shop. Buy a tread depth gauge ($2) and measure the tread depth on both edges of each tire (rear tires too). If one side of the tire is worn more than the other, your car needs to be aligned. An alignment costs about $80, so you'll still save $177.50 the first year alone.

Lead foot = light wallet

Replace a broken or missing spoiler

Speed kills—your gas mileage and your wallet

Replace your oxygen sensor(s) before the light goes on

Oxygen sensors monitor the efficiency of combustion by tracking the amount of oxygen remaining in the exhaust. But they degrade over time and that can cost you up to 15 percent in gas mileage. When they fail, the computer lights up your "service engine soon" light, forcing you to incur an $80 diagnostic fee. On pre-1996 vehicles, replace your oxygen sensor every 60,000 miles to keep your mileage at its peak. On 1996 and newer vehicles, replace the sensors every 100,000 miles. Oxygen sensors cost about $60 each. Some vehicles have as many as four, but the sensors installed behind the catalytic converter rarely fail.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Socket/ratchet set
    • Tire pressure gauge
    • Tread depth gauge
    • Oxygen sensor socket

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Spark plugs
    • Air filter
    • Replacement air dam (spoiler)
    • Oxygen sensor (s)
    • Tires

Comments from DIY Community Members

Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.

1 - 7 of 7 comments
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June 09, 10:10 PM [GMT -5]

Wonder if the oxygen sensors are to blame for my 1996 Dodge Caravan's exhaust pipe blackened with soot????

December 23, 3:13 PM [GMT -5]

Great article!

March 14, 6:02 AM [GMT -5]

As a result the cost of insuring the unthinkable is getting cheaper all the time. If you were sold a policy when you took out or mortgage you may have been under too much stress to shop around. You could be missing a trick.

October 27, 1:16 AM [GMT -5]

States began receiving this money in August 2009, and will receive the remainder of it by November 30, 2009. If you wait a few more months, chances are that you can get a rebate for purchasing more energy efficient products, which will save you both in upfront costs as well as in long-term electricity costs.

October 13, 12:29 PM [GMT -5]

Good ideas!! Add that following. Get the junk out of your trunk. All extra weight that's placed over, or behind the rear wheels is a mileage killer. If you're paying triple A to come out and change your flat tire I'd even suggest that you consider removing the spare tire and jack. Replace the weight with a sandbag in the winter if you live in a snowy area. Do replace that spare and jack with 2 cans of fix a flat. The cans contain sealer and compressed air that will get you home in 99.9% of all cases. If you drive an SUV and, as with most SUV owners, you NEVER drive off road consider replacing those inefficient truck tires with an all weather car tire when those you have need replacement. Car tires usually have less "rolling resistance" and lower noise levels while driving. Lastly, use gas with the octane level recommended in your owners manual. Using "regular" is cheaper at the pump, but when it costs you 2 or 3 miles per gallon in fuel mileage you're just paying more for it over time. Test this by using both for 2 tanks and calculate your mileage. You'll be a believer in no time.

September 30, 2:31 AM [GMT -5]

Thanks for the suggestions to save money on gasoline. Keeping your car well maintained is probably the most important way to conserve gasoline. Be sure your tires are correctly inflated. Buy fuel-economy car. Avoid heavy traffic. The faster you drive, the more gas you use. Drive slowly.

August 10, 5:21 AM [GMT -5]

Expensive, but should be considered. For the most part, cuts and remapping the engine computer will normally be taken to improve performance. However, you can do the opposite - a trade-off some performance in exchange for better gas mileage.

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