How to increase gas mileage when gas is $4.00 or more a gallon? 5 ways that could help my family conserve fuel and save some cash.

by Scott on June 5, 2008

I’m not looking for extreme measures like hypermiling, but easy and manageable solutions to save money.

1. Drive your most fuel efficient vehicle. We own two vehicles. A Toyota Prius and a BMW X5. Two totally different vehicles and each vehicle has its benefits and weaknesses. My wife uses a vanpool during the day to commute to work, so we should be using the Prius as our primary family car. The savings in gas would be tremendous for us. If you own two vehicles, are you putting the most miles on your efficient one? I would imagine many families have a minivan and a passenger car. I wonder if the passenger car would give you more fuel economy over the van? Do you know your vehicles mpg?

2. Kids Carpool. My wife uses a vanpool for work, but I could utilize a carpool for my daughter’s school. All it would take is a few phone calls and we could probably arrange a vanpool. I’m sure many parents are already doing this, but for me, it’s more of a convenience factor. I also wouldn’t be able to reciprocate and use my vehicle for carpooling, as I only have room for two car seats. I guess I could offer to purchase gas for them. Do you schedule a carpool or vanpool for your kid’s activities?

3. Plan ahead. I’m guilty of driving sometimes without a clear plan of what I’m going to accomplish at a store. I sometimes bring a list, but usually just try to wing it. I would imagine I waste a few gallons a week by not writing down a list for the store. Many nights I will have to drive out to the store for milk, and get frustrated because I was at the store a few hours earlier. I utilize spreadsheets and lists for budgets and household projects, so I should utilize lists for everyday shopping.

4. Pay attention to vehicle maintenance. It’s interesting that I take better care of my BMW X5, but it’s also the least efficient vehicle. I need to spend more time on the little details for both vehicles, like tire rotation, air filter, tire pressure, and oil service. I do maintain my vehicles, but sometimes I will allow several months to pass before having the tires rotated. One day my neighbor mentioned that a tire looked low on my Prius. It was low. I had been driving on a slow leak from a nail. I wonder how long the tire was low? These little maintenance items could add up to big gas savings for me. Many of these maintenance items are free. Tire pressure can greatly impact mileage. My dad has given me several tire pressure gauges for Christmas, and I need to start using them. I even have an emergency tire station and battery jumper cables that would be perfect to inflate my tires.

5. Walk, don’t drive. This one is going to hurt a little. We have a park about 1 mile from our house. No hills, just flat road. My kids are 4 and 2, and I prefer to drive. My reasons are selfish, as I like to leave quickly if we have a meltdown or if the bathrooms are nasty. We have a double stroller and we should walk more often for exercise and to save fuel. Our family goes to the park 3 or 4 times a week. We could be saving 8 miles a week in gas. How far do you drive to the park or to a local store? Could you walk?

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