A national survey conducted by DriverSide.com revealed that an astounding 82% of American car owners have decided to hold onto their cars longer than originally planned because of the sluggish economy.
[If you do happen to be looking to buy a car, see The 20 Most Affordable, Fuel-Efficient Cars on the Market]
So in the spirit of saving money and making do with what we have, here's a list of gas saving ideas that anyone can implement with their existing car by using a smart phone, computer, and a little common sense.
[Editor's Note: All savings estimates are based on a national average of $3.69 per gallon of gasoline, average driving of 15,000 miles/year and an average 25 MPG fuel economy.]
Sometimes it's hard to swallow your pride and ride in the back seat. And sometimes it's even harder to spend even more time with your co-workers. But you have to think of carpooling like this: If your car gets 25 miles per gallon with one person, then it effectively gets 50 miles per gallon if two people are riding in the same car.
If you're always the one doing the driving, it should be no problem to split the cost of gas with your co-riders. Alternately, each person in the carpool should take a turn driving, so that fuel costs even out among the group.
Carpooling comes with another added benefit: Riding with others also lets you take advantage of your city highways' HOV lanes, allowing you to fly past traffic with less stops and starts -- saving time, fuel and money.
Gas Savings: $270 per year (14-mile round trips into town, five times a week)
2. Keep Your Cool on the Road
The car resource experts at Edmunds.com ran a full battery of driving tests to see how well driving calmly would improve fuel efficiency over aggressive driving... and the results were phenomenal.
When comparing aggressive drivers (75-80 mph speeds, sharp accelerations, fast braking) to calm drivers (using cruise control at a speed of 65 mph or lower, slow accelerations and coasting rather than braking), the group saw fuel economy improve from 24.5 mpg to 32.5 mpg. That's a fuel economy boost of 35%!
So don't speed, don't tailgate and don't gun it off the starting line and you'll thank yourself when you have all that extra money left in your bank account.
Gas Savings: Up to $586 per year, depending on how aggressively you currently drive.
3. Use Traffic-Fighting Sites and Gas Apps
It's happened to us all. You drive your usual route to work and low and behold, you're stuck in a worse-than-usual traffic jam. Sitting in traffic will get you 0 MPG and is a waste of time.
#-ad_banner_2-#You can use sites like traffic.com before you head out for the day to check live traffic maps for metro areas. It will tell you how bad the traffic conditions are for your route, or suggest the least congested route to take. If you're already on the road and have a smart phone, the free Google Maps app will display color-coded traffic conditions: red for bad, yellow for moderate and green for good traffic conditions.
Even better, Gasbuddy.com is now offered as free app on all smart phones, so you can find the lowest priced gas stations that are conveniently along your route.
Before long you'll be cruising with fuel efficient style ahead of the herd sitting in traffic and make it to work early enough to impress the boss.
Gas Savings: Up to $550 per year, depending on how much stop and go traffic you face daily (city-like driving estimates: 20 MPG).
4. Plan and Combine Errands
You drive to the grocery store to pick up eggs for breakfast. Then you head back out to drop by the bank an hour later. Then you realize that you need to go to the post office. Sound familiar?
Not planning your route can cause a whole lot of back and forth driving. Stop wasting time and gas; in the morning after you've had your coffee, write down all the errands that you would possibly need to do for the day. If the post office and the bank are close to each other, swing by both of those and get them done, then head out to the grocery store and do another errand that's close by before coming back home.
Your car's engine is the most efficient when it's fully warmed up, so not only will combining errands save you time, your car will get its highest MPG and you'll save even more gas from avoiding unnecessary extra trips.
Gas Savings: $323 per year (By avoiding three unnecessary, 14 mile round-trips to town per week)
5. Shop Online orAhead
Have you ever driven all the way to Target (NYSE: TGT) just to pick up one or two things only to find that those 150-pound wall hangers you were looking for were sold out? Not only has your time been wasted, your tank is much emptier.
Shopping causes us to drive a lot more often than necessary. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 45% of all car trips are for shopping and errands.
If you're intent on going to the brick-and-mortar store but you're not sure they carry what you want, give them an old fashioned and FREE (no gas required) phonestock and you know you won't be wasting a trip.; they'll be happy to tell you if it's in
Gas Savings: $185 or more (8 mile round trips to the store, three times a week) depending on how often you go shopping and how far you live from the store.
[InvestingAnswers Feature: How to Save Hundreds of Dollars on Groceries (and Other Expenses]
The Investing Answer: If you can learn how to effectively plan errands, ride with others, resist speeding and use technology to your advantage, you could pocket an extra $1,900 a year following these tips!
If you invested that $1,900 every year into the market for 30 years, it would be worth over $180,000!