Drive Green and Save Money

Boosting your gas mileage is good for the environment—and your wallet.

Man driving car shaped like the planet, illus. by Ron Chan, image

Saving gas is good for the planet.

Greener driving is cleaner driving. It’s also safer and better for your budget, reducing fuel costs and roadway risks. Consider these tips for a more ecological, economical drive.

Keep up with upkeep By scheduling regular tune-ups, filter changes, and other maintenance at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals, you’ll burn less gas and reduce the chance of major car trouble down the road.

Ditch the junk in your trunk The less excess weight on board, the better gas mileage you’ll get. If you’re not using your roof rack, remove that, too. Every extra 100 pounds in your car cuts fuel efficiency by up to 2 percent.

Plot your route Whether you’re on a shopping run or a weekend road trip, use a GPS device or map to plan out the shortest, safest route before leaving home. While you’re at it, try to handle multiple errands in a single outing, or combine them with your commute.

Be a good citizen Obeying the speed limit boosts fuel economy and cuts the odds of a collision. Aggressive driving—including sudden starts and stops—has just the opposite effect.

Fill up at the right time When the weather gets hot, an open gas tank lets gasoline vapors escape faster. Refuel at the cooler bookends of the day, in early morning or late evening, to pollute less and save fuel.

Keep tires properly inflated Make sure your tires are inflated to the pressure shown inside the driver’s door of your vehicle or in the owner’s manual. Keeping tires at the right pressure is safer and prolongs their life. Proper inflation can also improve gas mileage by as much as 3.3 percent, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Time trips against traffic Avoid the roads at rush hour whenever you can. Stop-and-go driving increases your emissions—and your chances of a fender bender.

Upgrade to a fuel-savvy car When it’s time to buy a new vehicle, keep a close eye on gas consumption. You’ll pollute less and lower your long-term fuel costs at the same time.

Illustration by Ron Chan

This article was first published in March 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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