How Far Can You Get on a Tank of Gas?

Gas prices have been ridiculous lately. They say it is only going to get worse. In the coming fall, I will be commuting to school everyday which is about 30 miles away from home. This will cost me lots of money. I’ve written previously on gas saving tips and how some people get better fuel economy. Well, according to CNN, several of my gas saving tips weren’t that great (didn’t really save you anything). My tips on getting better fuel economy were good but, some of them were a little dangerous (like drafting behind 18-wheelers). With my current tank of gas, I have been trying to drive as fuel efficiently as possible for the whole tank. Here are a few tips on what I have been doing.

How I am (hopefully) getting better fuel economy:

1) Slow acceleration: Accelerating quickly uses extra fuel. When you putt he pedal to the floor, your engine throws in a lot of extra gas into the engine and your car doesn’t even burn all of the fuel. Unless I am leaving really late for work, I have been pretty good about doing this. I have been trying to give myself extra time so I can drive slower and more efficiently.

2) Coasting to stops: It takes your engine a lot of gas to get you up to speed and to maintain that speed so don’t waste it. Taking your foot off the gas earlier and coasting to a stop sign that is relatively far away saves on gas. Many people keep giving it gas until they start breaking, this wastes a lot of fuel. When I drive to work, I usually start coasting at 55 mph and keep coasting all the way until I’m down to 25 mph. By the time I am at 25 mph it is usually time to hit the brakes.

3) Driving at optimal speeds : Optimal speeds for most cars is 25mph and 55mph. These two speeds usually get pretty similar gas mileage. So, I try to drive at these speeds as much as possible. There is a 45 mph stretch on my way to work and I drive 55 there. On my way home, there is a stretch where the limit is 25 mph, so I go 25 mph. I stick to it as much as possible as long as I am not too far away from the speed limit.

4) Don’t use A/C (or use less): It has been really hot where I live lately, so a few times I have turned on the A/C. I try to use it as little as possible though. It takes a few mpg off your fuel economy. Sweating a lot at work is no fun either so I have to compromise.

5) Don’t open windows: This goes along with #4. Most people have already heard of this or already knew about it. Basically opening your windows creates drag on your car which makes your engine work harder to move you along which takes more gas.

6) Keep car cool when not using it: I put up a sun visor and crack my windows so when I get in, I don’t have to use the A/C as much (see #4).

7) Don’t follow closely: I try to leave room between me and the next guy. That way I don’t have to keep playing with the gas and breaks. This also wastes gas. If I see the person in front of me push their breaks, I immediately take my foot off the gas and start coasting toward them. I only brake if I need to.

The Challenge:

I would like to challenge anyone who reads this blog to try to drive more efficiently for a whole tank of gas as well. Email me, comment on this post, or contact me if you would like to participate. Later I will post an update and compare how I and everyone else did. I will link out to everybody who participates and has a blog. So there are now two incentives, you can get a link and save money on gas.

How the winner will be determined:

I am going to use this formula to determine the percentage gain(or in some cases lost) over the EPA ratings:

(Your fuel economy -EPA rating)/ EPA rating X 100 = % gain over EPA rating.

Note you will also need to figure out if you mainly drive city or highway. I drive only in the city so I will use that EPA rating in my formula, if you drive on the highway then you should use the EPA highway rating for your car. You can find your EPA fuel economy rating here.


  1. Hey, I don’t drive, I transport or commute on bus to school and work. Its free for students here at the university of Texas at Austin to use the public transportation service free of charge! ;D

  2. lol maybe you could suggest these tips to the busdriver and see the change in gas mileage. 🙂

  3. I was going to say something similar, I can bike or walk to work almost. My company is also good with letting us work from home, so I can tell you how many ham and cheese sandwiches it takes me CSPG (Cheese Sandwiches per Gallon) if you would like though. 🙂

  4. Ok maybe it will just be me who does this and I will tell you guys how I do. I hope its better than epa but my car 13 years old 160k miles and i drive in city, many stop signs. So we will see!

  5. I’ve discovered all the good coasting spots between here and my work. Where I don’t even have to touch the accelerator to keep moving at a nice pace. The only thing that makes me nervous is angry drivers behind me…so I try not to go too slowly.

  6. I do the same thing. I have found spots where I can start coasting and I won’t even have to touch the brakes to go around the next turn. I’m hoping this is saving a good amount of gas. I live in a small town so there aren’t many people who follow behind me.

  7. I’ll play. I was already two days into (hopefully) my best tank ever after drawing inspiration from WiseBread. I have not ripped out the backseats or anything, but I’m trying to work more cruise control into the regular routes and preserve more momentum.

    Previously, I’ve averaged 31-32 MPG with outliers of 30-33 MPG.

    The new EPA rating for my car is city 21, hwy 31, avg 25.
    But “average of drivers like me” is city 28, hwy 34, avg 30.7

  8. Cool Sean, contact me when you get through your tank. It looks like it is just you and me.

  9. I just borrowed a friend of mines’ car to see what I would to try and maximize my Mileage when driving. Its been a while since I’ve driven but in the experience I have found that Not accelerating increase output of your car in terms of miles but increasingly angers the guy behind you in real time. Frankly, I could care less what that thinks, if he crashes into me…CHACHING!

    I’ve also noticed that you drive a little more safely… at a safe distance from the person in front speeding his way through the light or tailing the guy in front of him. I’ve noticed that you avoid a number of potentially disastrous circumstances that I didn’t notice before!

    From the Moolah Man,
    Tony Tovar

  10. Cool, I’ll check in next week. Hopefully, very deep into next week. 🙂

  11. There is a free service you can access with your cell phone to track your gas usage: Fuel Frog. ( its pretty handy….we are thinking of writing about it.

  12. Okay, I just filled up… not so good!

    Miles: 299.1
    Gallons: 9.321
    MPG: 32.0888

    Firmly inside my personal average. The goal was to test more cruising/coasting, and they did not appear to be major factors here. Maybe it was too similar to my regular driving style. Rather than doing what I’m already doing, but a little more, I’ll probably have to find mileage tips that go against what I’m currentling doing. Hope you had better luck finding things that work for you.

  13. Thanks for the update Sean, I will probably post about this in the next day or two.