1. Turn off your engine if you are going to be idling for more than 30 seconds. Millions of gallons of fuel are wasted each day from idling. Your starter and battery system can handle the increased activity.
2. Change your air filter every 10,000 miles. Just like a marathon runner, your car needs to suck in air without restriction.
3. Install a real-time fuel consumption meter if your car does not have one already. This way, you can see what you are doing while you are driving and make the needed adjustments to save fuel.
4. Pump up those tires. Higher tire pressures result in lower rolling resistance, so your mileage will improve. Not too high, mind you, but a tad over the “recommended” from your car and tire manufacturer. Remember, they don’t want you to get good mileage.
5. Turn off your air conditioning, but only at lights or in slow traffic. When you really get going, the open windows produce drag that will offset any savings you might imagine from having the AC off.
6. Reduce the weight of your car. Remove all non-essential items from the trunk and the interior of your car. Weight takes energy to move, so the lighter your car the less energy you will lose. Keep the spare tire and the jack, but almost everything else can go. If you don’t have a family, take out the back seat. Invest in custom wheels if they are significantly lighter than the stock wheels. Carbon fiber parts (like the hood or trunk) are great, too, although they may be a bit expensive.
7. Don’t keep your gas tank full all the time. Remember, fuel equals weight and you must do everything you can to make your vehicle lighter. Keeping about a half tank or less all the time should allow for emergencies but also keep your weight down.
8. Wax your car and keep it clean and waxed. Drag (friction with the air) greatly reduces fuel economy. A clean and waxed vehicle will have reduced aerodynamic drag, thus providing better mileage. If you have a luggage rack, take it off. If you have a moon roof, keep it closed. Smooth is what you want.
9. Don’t drive a lot with a cold engine. Cold engines do not run efficiently. Use a block heater to pre-heat your engine if you are taking many short trips. If you can combine your short trips it will help, as driving further will allow your engine more operating time at higher temperatures.
10. Use cruise control whenever possible. The car’s ability to maintain a constant speed is better than your ability to do so. Small, more precise, and constant adjustments made by the car’s cruise control system will save you fuel.
Ultimately, there are other, more drastic steps you can take to save on fuel. For instance, you could ride light rail instead of driving, car pool, ride your bike, buy a high mileage car like a MINI or a Toyota Corolla, or even move closer to where you work. One other thing to consider — invest in an oil company like Exxon-Mobil or BP. As the high cost of oil swells the profits of Big Oil, you will get a share of that ill-gotten wealth as an owner of the company.