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Five Gas Saving Myths

Posted By Miranda Marquit On 04/07/2011 @ 7:26 am In Frugal Living | 47 Comments

With global turmoil continuing to threaten higher gas prices — especially with the summer driving season just around the corner — it is little surprise that many people are looking for ways to save money on gas [3].

Indeed, as gas moves toward the $4.00 per gallon level that many think is inevitable, increasing fuel economy becomes even more important. We want to be able get the most for our gas station dollar. It is tempting to believe that you can do a few simple things and then find yourself raking in the savings. The truth, though, is that some “conventional” wisdom about saving money on gas is outdated. Or even downright false. Here are five gas saving tips that probably won’t do much in terms of saving you money at the pump:

1. Add a “Special” Device to Your Fuel Line

If you look online, you can find any number of products that claim to improve your fuel efficiency. All you have to do is install some device in your fuel line or other part of your care, and then watch as the “miracle” saves you money. Unfortunately, few — if any — of these devices actually work. The Federal Trade Commission makes it clear that there are no “gas saving” devices endorsed by the government [4]. Watch out, too, for false claims that EPA testing has been conducted and that the device has been “proven” effective.

2. Pour Additives into Your Gas Tank

On top of adding special devices to your car, there are some claims made that you can dump a bottle-full of some special fuel additive to increase your fuel efficiency, or clean the insides of your car to make it more efficient. Others claim that you can use oil additives to help increase fuel efficiency. It doesn’t appear that these additives [5] are likely to help you any more than adding a special device to your car.

3. Switch Out Your Air Filter

It’s true that properly maintaining your car can help it run better and more efficiently in general. In the past, recommendations were made that changing your air filter could help matters. Ditto for a high performance filter. However, if this were true in the past, it isn’t now. Consumer Reports [6] points out that computerized cars have other ways to compensate. Changing your air filter is unlikely to do much on its own. Instead, you will need to develop an overall habit of better car maintenance to get as much as you can for your money.

4. Fill Your Tank When The Air Temperature is Cooler

I remember being told that the best time to fill your gas tank is in the morning. The air temperature is colder, so fuel is denser. I remember someone telling me that warm air will help the gas expand later, so you get less taking up more room in your tank. The truth, though, is that it probably doesn’t matter enough to make an appreciable difference. In fact, think about where the gas is stored: Underground. It’s already at a cooler temperature — no matter how hot it is outside.

5. Don’t Turn Off the Car When Running Errands

It used to be that the conventional wisdom was that you should keep your car running if you were just running errands. Whether you were visiting the bank, or just chatting with a neighbor, turning off the car was a no-no. You might remember hearing that it took more gas to start your car than to just let it idle. Perhaps this was true in the past. However, the miracle we know as fuel injection has changed things. Idling your car really does use up more gas than starting it. It’s also a myth that modern cars need to “warm-up” [7] for a few minutes before driving them in winter.

What gas saving myths are you surprised that people believe?

(mwichary [8])


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[1] Tweet: http://twitter.com/share

[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/gas-saving-myths.html

[3] save money on gas: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/7-ways-save-money-gas.html

[4] no “gas saving” devices endorsed by the government: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut10.shtm

[5] doesn’t appear that these additives: http://www.businessfleet.com/Channel/Fuel-Management/Article/Story/2010/05/Mythbusters-Fleet-Edition.aspx

[6] Consumer Reports: http://consumerreports.org

[7] “warm-up”: http://www.mnn.com/local-reports/illinois/local-blog/dont-be-an-american-idle-turn-off-the-car-and-save-gas

[8] mwichary: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mwichary/2824024912/sizes/l/

Thank you for reading!