Rising oil prices are great news if you’re Exxon Mobil, but not so much for the rest of us. And, while those of us who drive regularly were hoping that the cost of hybrid cars would drop, it instead looks like car manufacturers are moving away from hybrid cars altogether. What’s a cost-conscious commuter to do? Photo courtesy of Nicolas Vigier, via Flickr.
It might be little consolation that hybrid cars are only arguably cheaper in the long run. Many have noted that the high initial cost of a Toyota Prius or Civic Hybrid would mean many years of regular driving before the owner would begin to make up the cost in fuel savings.
The best approach might just be to make the most of what we have. Read on for some gas-saving tips that don’t require you to spend a dime.
Let Your Fingers Do the Googling
Google Maps is hardly an insider secret, at this point. Thanks to their detailed and accurate driving directions, most of us have long been spared the agony of listening to a stranger give vague, landmark-based directions.
All the same, I’m often surprised by how many people don’t know that Google Maps is also a great source of public transit directions, as well as walking and biking directions. To use these features, just type in starting address and destination, as usual, then click on the icon that represents how you want to get around. The public transportation option has built-in timetables, and the biking option will automatically favor routes that have bike lanes or safe biking trails.
Ride with Friends (or Strangers)
Carpooling might be the most cost-effective way to save on gas, but it also has a reputation for being the hardest to organize and the most awkward. This does not have to be the case.
There are numerous websites to help assemble your carpool. eRideShare.com and RideSearch.com are two of the most popular. Though, as with any time you plan to meet In Real Life with people you know from the Internet, it’s best to practice some common sense and precaution.
It’s also possible to find carpool buddies through Craigslist or even the local sub-Reddit for your city– for example, r/LosAngeles. And there’s always the old fashioned way, posting bulletins in common areas at work or school.
Make Your Smartphone Earn Its Keep
If you’ve already invested in a flashy iPhone or Android smartphone, you might as well use the thing to help you save some money between gargantuan phone bills. Here’s how that gadget can help you save on gas.
First, there’s GasBuddy, one of the most popular iOS and Android apps ever. GasBuddy is a free download, and it works by “crowd-sourcing” the lowest prices for gas. Plug in your location– or have the GPS on your phone do it– then let it point you to the best gas deals. Or, if you feel like contributing to the community, you can report the prices of a station near you. The system works exceedingly well.
If you want to get more high-tech, you can follow these instructions on Reddit for how to build a real-time miles-per-gallon gauge for your car, one that will automatically display your MPG on your smartphone while you drive. The instructions can get somewhat technical, but if you can get past that, it’s only about $30, and it’s a fun hypermiling aid.
What is hypermiling, you ask? “Hypermiling” refers to a set of driving techniques that maximize fuel economy while driving. Common tips include accelerating slowly, and increasing following distance to reduce the likelihood of having to brake suddenly. If you’re fanatical about it, you can get 59 miles-per-gallon in a Honda Accord. Most people won’t have such great results, but there are tons of tips available for hypermiling novices.
If you choose try your hand at hypermiling, just make sure you put safety first and don’t break any laws. There’s no sense risking your life just to save 40 cents on gas.
Have your own advice for how to save at the pump? Please share in the comments.