Gas Price Solutions, Part 2: How to Go Farther on Less Fuel

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Two weeks ago, we asked our readers for their advice on how to save money at the pump. In the more than 1,500 responses that followed, we found a lot of creative solutions, covering everything from retrofitting your car to selling it and buying a bicycle. Our first gas advice post, which ran earlier this week, explored your suggestions for economizing. Today's piece looks at maintenance and new vehicle purchases that will help you go farther on less fuel.

Hybrids and Electrics and Diesels ...

Not surprisingly, one of the most popular suggestions for cutting down at the pump involved in buying a more fuel-efficient car. The Toyota Prius was especially popular among DailyFinance readers and, as "TM Souza" found, the car's efficiency more than offset its cost: "I sold my Toyota Sequoia for a Toyota Prius and went from 14.1 miles per gallon to 50 miles per gallon the savings in gasoline pays for my new vehicle."

However, the Prius was far from the only new car option that readers praised. "Mel" noted that his 2008 Toyota Camry hybrid makes him "a happy camper," "Jim" praised his 2008 Civic hybrid, and "Chuck" proclaimed that his Nissan Leaf means that "We don't need to buy no stinkin' gas!"

But hybrids and electric cars aren't the only cost-saving options out there. "Jim D." claimed that his 1969 912 Porsche averages "in the mid 30 mpg's." He went on to write that "I'm also seeing a lot of 50 and 60 VW's on the road that get great mileage. In California you need to bring a spare shirt on hot days, but it's worth it."

"Paul" endorsed the Geo Metro five-speed, and "TFodel" praised the 1979 VW Rabbit diesel, but the ultimate in gas-sipping retro drivers may be "EldonFlorence," who wrote that "I dusted off my one-cylinder 1904 Oldsmobile Curved Dash," which "gets about 50 miles to the gallon."

Take the Bus ... or the Harley

Of course, nothing's as cheap as the car that you don't buy, and many readers pointed out the wonders of public transportation. "Vcgh2000" but it bluntly, noting "Want to bring gas prices down??? Take the train."

Meanwhile, "Crgphillips5" noted the relaxing effects of public transportation, stating that "I take the bus often ... by leaving options available besides the car, I relax myself and drive less...with no time lost and money saved." Overall, however, "Nocstreet" was the boldest defender of public transportation, stating that "I told my husband if he bought another tank of premium gas, I'd take his car away." Luckily, she notes, "Oregon's Portland metro area is continuing to work on a great transit system. Hope they don't let anyone convince them it's not worth it."

Many areas don't have a strong public transportation infrastructure, though, and in those that do, using it requires people to adjust to a bus, train or subway schedule. However, many readers noted that bicycles and motorcycles let them maintain their freedom while cutting down on their gas expenditures. For example, "Rob" noted that his 1984 Honda motorcycle gets between 52 and 55 miles per gallon, which means that "$11.30 will last eight days on a tank .... So sorry to make all you Chevy Tahoe and Escalade owners weep." Similarly, "Harleydavid105" endorses American motorcycles, pointing out that his Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide gets "45 miles per gallon and keeps America working."

Of course, motorcycles have problems of their own. "GJ Meyer" complains that, because of neighborhood restrictions, he has to "drive an electric cart a mile and a half to get my motorcycle." And, as "chzyrider" admits, motorcycles aren't great in the rain: "There are days when the weather is totally unfavorable, and I will drive on those days." However, he emphasizes that, for "trained, safe" riders, motorcycles are "legitimate, feasible and FUN."

Get Under the Hood

Given the vast array of gas-saving tools on the market, it's not surprising that many readers suggested ways that car customizing could lower gas consumption. On the simplest level, this involved taking things out: While some readers endorse taking out floor mats and spare tires, "Ray" took this to an extreme, pulling out his car's seats (except the driver's!), ash trays, speakers, radio, sound deadening material, interior trim "and anything else not integral to the vehicle's driving ability." This reduction of his car's weight, he claimed, helped him get 50 mpg out of his 1995 Nissan Sentra.

"Ron" agreed that drivers should "Take off your hubcaps, take out your backseat, door panels, carpeting and everything else that isn't needed." However, he went a step further, noting that installing a "cold air intake," adding "dual exhaust with flow-master mufflers" and using "the lightest-weigh oil your engine can stand" will all add miles per gallon to a tank.

Many readers suggested using a high-flow air filter. "DVilla4940" especially endorsed K&N filters, which he said "will give you about 2 more miles per gallon." "Mr. Terrific" suggested using gas chips, claiming that the 5-minute installation "added 90 miles to a tank of gas."

While most drivers aren't quite ready to pull out their car's back seat or switch over to a cold-air intake system, Daily Finance's readers suggest that there are lots of ways to increase gas efficiency ... as well as fun!

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tony

"Nocstreet" was the boldest defender of public transportation, stating that "I told my husband if he bought another tank of premium gas, I'd take his car away."
Premium gas has not been sold at the local gas station since 1972. Premium is 100 octane or more, any 1 with half a brain or more knows that. The so called premium of today is lower octane then the reg of 1972. Get an education there streeter, same to your clueless husband.

February 07 2014 at 2:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sarah

common sense people!!! yes hybrids get great gas mileage but if you spend thousands more for them it cancels out the gas savings!!!!! I could get a used honda, or even cheaper new cars that get close to 30 mpg for 5k+ less. do you know how many YEARS to would take to save thousands of dollars on the gas mileage/gas price difference? and I love when people buy those fuel cleaners. If the cleaner cost 10 dollars, that's 2-3 tanks of gas right there. I seriously doubt that thing is allowing you to drive an extra 40+ miles!!

May 21 2011 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nimbusnnw

Each time the price of gas goes up, it comes down again. Of course at a higher final price. The public is then happy the price of gas is lower. The oil companies have won again getting more profits. We didn't learn a lesson in 1973 and we will continue to be sucker in 2011.

May 10 2011 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
yhsmoves

Back in the seventys the double nickel (55MPH) did something. Now we all have overdrive transmissions and going 55(Oregon) or 75 (Montana allows it) in my 1993 caddy I still get 21 mpg. So tell me again how I'm saving fuel.

May 10 2011 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to yhsmoves's comment
yhsmoves

Also this caddy cost me 1,500.00 bucks , Insures for 175.00 a year as a second car through AARP (Hartford) and rides like a dream. So tell me about that "Green Car" saving you money

May 10 2011 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thomas

Don't buy any for a week if everybody did this they would see we are serious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 10 2011 at 5:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Thomas's comment
necrosaro420

Driving at 55mph does nothing. Your going to go the same distance in a shorter period of time driving faster. The engine is going to use the same amount of fuel regardless. Dont fall for this government made up story to get people to drive safer.

May 10 2011 at 3:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to necrosaro420's comment
PSUSkier

Right. So wind resistance that increases exponentially the faster you go and increased friction from moving parts does nothing to increase fuel consumption? Good to know!

May 10 2011 at 4:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to PSUSkier's comment
necrosaro420

Driving at 55mph does nothing. Your going to go the same distance in a shorter period of time driving faster. The engine is going to use the same amount of fuel regardless. Dont fall for this government made up story to get people to drive safer.

May 10 2011 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
necrosaro420

Driving at 55mph does nothing. Your going to go the same distance in a shorter period of time driving faster. The engine is going to use the same amount of fuel regardless. Dont fall for this government made up story to get people to drive safer.

May 10 2011 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
PSUSkier

So uhh, I think it's important to note that all of the information in your "under the hood section" can very easily be dangerous or does absolutely nothing to net you extra miles. For example, "using the lightest-weigh [sic] oil your engine can stand" can very easily shorten the life of your engine. Lighter weight oils don't have the protection of the heavier oils and can lead to faster wear on parts needing protection -- in fact it can happen very quick if you get an oil too light.

Cold air intakes can be a great way to lessen restriction, but many are designed in such a way that they require your engine to be tuned for them. If not, they may be letting more air in than the engine is anticipating (because the diameter of the intake tube may be greater than stock) in which case your engine's air/fuel mixture will be lean possibly leading to detonation and catastrophic engine failure.

Also, gas chips? Those "5 minute install" items that are all over eBay work by adjusting the signal your MAF is putting out effectively making your engine believe less air is coming in than it is actually ingesting. This causes your car to again have a lean air/oil mixture.

May 10 2011 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gumby

Drive at 55 mph!!
Voluntarily..

May 10 2011 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gumby's comment
bushdog14

Where? All the speed limits are 70 mph or above now!! Maybe they need to be lowered again!!

May 10 2011 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
caohellsux1978

As we have seen time and again, supply/demand has very, very little to do with prices. Now when supply is down and demand is up, it has EVERYTHING to do with prices. However, when supply is up, and demand is down, it has more to do with those darned Nigerian Rebels attacking pipelines with blowguns, or Somalian Pirates hijacking tankers from row boats. Or maybe even the drying up of the world supply due to the conflict in Libya. Libya accounts for almost 3% of world oil. LOL, it’s laughable that we even talk about supply/demand any longer. We need to just come to the realization (even Exxon/Mobil) and just tell the world, I am going to charge you whatever I wish to because you have no alternative but to buy it. I don’t have to do the song and dance anymore, because I have got you right where I want you, in a state of helplessness. And yes, I may have to appear before Congress from time to time (wink, wink) but that’s just a private jet ride away. A very small price to pay in exchange for an 11 billion dollar profit in the first quarter of 2011. And guess what, its only going to get better for me, because my prices are steadily moving up and there is nothing to stop me. I am Exxon/Mobil, and I am proud and arrogant.
BOYCOTT EXXON/MOBIL NOW THROUGH JULY 4TH. CUT INTO THEIR PROFITS, AND THEIR PRICES WILL COME DOWN. THEY ARENT GOING TO GET ANY LOWER AT THE PRESENT PACE. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MAY NOT HAVE A CHOICE OF DOING WITHOUT RIGHT NOW, BUT WE DO HAVE A CHOICE OF WHO TO GIVE OUR MONEY TO.

May 10 2011 at 8:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply