Close-up of a guy driving

Driving Tips for How to Save Gas

Everyone’s trying to save money on gas these days. With the speedy way gas prices change, it's easy to see why. Check out our tips for fuel-efficient driving and learn how to save gas while you watch the savings add up.

1. Don't Be a Lead Foot

Putting the "pedal to the metal" wastes gas because the harder you accelerate, the more fuel is wasted. Pressing the accelerator pedal gently will help you save gas. Following this rule of thumb allows for more efficient driving.

Aim to take about five seconds to accelerate your vehicle up to 15 miles per hour from a stop. For a manual transmission, use a moderate throttle position and shift between 2000 and 2500 rpm.

One way to help not accelerate too quickly is to imagine there's an egg under the gas pedal. When you accelerate, pretend the gas pedal is pressing down on the egg. This mental trick can help you speed up safely, which means saving gas and cash.

2. Keep it Steady for Fuel-Efficient Driving

Have you ever wondered why mileage is different between highway and city driving? Take a look at conventional gas-powered cars and you'll see that highway driving always gets the better mileage rating. As an example, take a look at the Corolla. Its EPA-estimated MPG is higher for highway driving than city driving.

The reason for this has to do with sudden changes of speed. Dips in speed combined with spurts of rapid acceleration can increase your fuel use by up to 30 percent on the highway. That's why stopping and going quickly can reduce fuel efficiency. If you're not in city driving conditions, try to avoid rapid starts and stops.

On the highway, cruise control is a fuel efficient tool if you're going on a road trip or have a long commute. It saves fuel and helps keep your car in working order. Just be careful to follow official road signs and turn off cruise control when there are hazardous driving conditions.

Interior view of a person driving

3. Stay Alert and Keep Proper Distance

Keep your vehicle's momentum by planning your maneuvers ahead of time. Pay attention to the road in front of you.

Anticipate the movements of pedestrians and other drivers and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.

If you're unsure what a safe distance is, try counting seconds. It works like this: when you're on the road, pick an inanimate object like a road sign, marker, or something solid that doesn't move. Watch the car in front of you pass the object and start counting.

This rule used to be called the "2-second rule" because it was often advised to count 2 seconds. It's now known that there are different count times for different driving conditions.

Speed limits of 35-55 miles per hour require a distance of 3 seconds. Count 4 seconds for speeds 55-75 mph and when it is raining, roads are wet, or in heavy traffic. For snowy and icy roads, count 7-8 seconds for a safer ride.

This counting tip can help you keep a proper distance and help achieve better gas mileage.

Many Toyota vehicles also feature Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. This active safety system is designed to sense the car in front of you, making automatic speed adjustments to help you maintain a safe following distance.

4. Don't Slam on the Brakes

If the stop-and-go of city traffic hinders mileage, abrupt stops can, too. In regular driving situations, it's better to coast toward a stop sign or red light instead of slamming on the brakes. This helps save fuel and money.

It’s not just an efficient driving habit, it also puts less wear on your tires and brakes too. This helps you save on maintenance and repair costs.

5. Check Your Tire Pressure

In addition to these fuel-efficient driving techniques, be sure to maintain your tires at the correct pressure. Check the pressure often and fill them up when you see the tire pressure warning light.

If you're unsure how much air your tires need, check inside the driver's side door. Many newer cars have a sticker there that lists the correct PSI for your vehicle. "What about the information on the tire itself?" That is a good question!

Tire makers like to put useful information on tires, like how much PSI they can take. However, it's important to note that you should never exceed that amount.

There are a few reasons for this. The first has to do with wear and tear. If you over-inflate your tires, the tread section will round out. This causes the middle tread to wear down faster. On average, you could be cutting your tires’ lifespan in half.

The second reason has to do with loss of traction. The more you inflate, the more likely it is that your tires will lose contact with the road. This could lead to spinning out, or even crashing. This is truer in the winter months when the roads may be slick.

The third reason has to do with your ride. With over-inflated tires, you'll feel every bump and dip while driving. What used to be a smooth ride will now be bumpy.

The most important reason to maintain your tires is that tire pressure increases as you drive. Suppose 44 is the max PSI your tires can take. If you check the tires after a drive, the pressure might be much less than 44 PSI. That's because the PSI lowers as the car cools off.

In fact, the PSI your car manufacturer recommends is the PSI you should get when the car has cooled off. The PSI the tire manufacturer notes is the PSI the tires might have while moving.

If you need more information, be sure to check your car's manual.

Cargo area of a vehicle filled with picnic supplies

6. Be More Fuel Efficient with Less Cargo

Have you ever come home from a road trip and found that your car ran better the next time you drove it? On the trip, it may have felt bogged down and slow. On the way to the store the next day, perhaps it felt light and sporty. There's a good reason for this.

Having extra cargo drags down fuel efficiency. Unless you need that extra load, it is best to leave it out of the car. Unpack the car when you get home and leave in what you need for your next drive.

7. Combine Trips

Are you going on vacation soon? If you are, you might have a lot of errands to run. Trips to the store for sunscreen, extra towels, or getting munchies for the road can really add up.

If you want to reduce fuel consumption, combine all your trips into one. Make a list of what you need and map out the route for a seamless errand run. This not only saves time, but it can also save gas.

This trick is an even more economical strategy in cooler weather. Warming up your car engine takes gas and energy. Combining all trips into one saves you from unneeded warm ups.

8. How to Save Gas in the Summer

Did you know that hotter temps make cars more fuel efficient? A hot day helps your car's engine warm up to an efficient temp faster. The gas available in hotter temps also has slightly better energy.

But all the gas savings can easily dissipate when you turn on the AC. Here's what you can do to keep gas spending and car temps low.

Don't use the AC at low speeds. Opt for rolling down the windows instead. This helps keep the cabin cool and helps the hot air escape.

If you have to use the AC, try to save it for when you're on the highway. Open the windows for a moment first to release all the hot air. This makes it easier for the AC to cool the cabin and car.

Another way to reduce AC use is to park in shaded places. This keeps the car cooler so you'll feel more comfortable using less AC.

9. Reduce Heater Use in Winter

Heaters and air conditioners are supposed to help keep the car comfortable. It's the reason many cars have AC, heating, and sometimes seat warmers.

But relying on climate controllers really drags down gas efficiency. To save gas in winter, try parking in a warm place like a garage. This fends off the cold and uses less gas to warm things up later.

One other thing you can do is avoid turning on the heater in an idle car for too long. The best thing to do is to turn on the heat just before getting in your car or while the car is running. This speeds up the warm up time and saves gas.