August 5, 2010

Tips for Reducing Gasoline Use

tomBy Tom Miller
Iowa Attorney General

The Attorney General’s Office suggests several tips for reducing gasoline consumption — and thus reducing demand and market pressure for higher gasoline prices:

• Check your owner’s manual to find out what octane your engine needs, then buy it. Resist the urge to buy higher octane gas for “premium” performance. The AAA experts say that only about five percent of the cars sold in the United States require premium gasoline, yet premium gas accounts for 20 percent of all gasoline sold. (This advice is not intended to apply to Ethanol, which has other benefits such as less pollution, supporting an Iowa industry and reducing dependence on foreign oil.)

• Keep your tires inflated to the proper levels. Properly inflated tires provide less road resistance and can improve fuel efficiency. Check your owner’s manual for the guide to appropriate inflation levels.

• Keep your engine tuned. Make sure that you change the oil and get tune-ups according to your owner’s manual.

• Slow down. The faster you drive, the more gasoline your car uses. Driving at 55 mph rather than 65 mph increases fuel economy by about 2 miles per gallon.

• Avoid “jackrabbit starts.” Abrupt starts require about twice as much gasoline as gradual starts.

• Pace your driving. Unnecessary speedups, slowdowns and stops can decrease fuel economy by up to 2 miles per gallon. Stay alert and drive steadily, not erratically. Keep a reasonable, safe distance from the car ahead of you and anticipate traffic conditions. The safe use of cruise control can aid in gas savings.

• Reduce use of air conditioning. Air conditioning can reduce fuel economy by as much as 2 miles per gallon under certain speeds and operating conditions.

• Don’t let your car idle for long periods. Turn your engine off when you are delayed for more than a couple of minutes.

• When purchasing a new car, compare the EPA estimated gas mileage for the cars you are considering.

• Finally, consider alternative transportation, such as carpooling or using public transportation, and options that also have health benefits, such as biking or walking.

For more information, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926. The Attorney General’s web site is: