Are there driving techniques that you use when you’re low on gas? How are you able to save fuel?

Ever found yourself running low on gas and in danger of coming to a complete stop? What methods have you used to get the last bit of juice from your car and make it home or to a gas station? Let us know.

For tips on improving fuel efficiency and 'getting the most out of every drop', plus the chance to win free fuel, head over to Drive Smart, the Yahoo! motoring section produced in association with Shell.

18 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Lots of really good tips given already and I've pretty much tried them all. My dad was a trucker and already gave me a lot of those tips.

    Have you thought of checking out hypermiling.? Independent truckers have been doing it for decades. That's one of the reasons they have "J" brakes (you've heard them, that gravelly sound they make when they slow down but don't hit the brake pedal and you see no brake lights). How often and how hard you brake lowers your gas milage - a lot.

    1. Coast to a stop whenever possible.

    2. Accelerate slowly out of a stop.

    3. Don't "gun" or "rev-up" your engine, it's a waste of gas.

    4. Do not tailgate. The gas you used to get up to speed is wasted when you have to brake all the time. Driving aggressively costs gas.

    5. Do not speed up out of courtesy to the other driver who tailgates you. They can change lanes or eventually pass you.

    6. Always keep a watch on traffic blocks and sometimes miles ahead to avoid sudden braking surprises that cost gas. That leads us to the next hint.

    7. Timing the lights. That means going slow enough so as not to have to stop at a red light. Here is a video about red lights and zero miles per hour:

    8. If you do get stuck at a red light you know will be a long one or you are stuck at a train crossing shut off the engine. A warm start uses less gas than a cold start.

    9. Don't use the air conditioning, it consumes more of your engine's energy and therefore gas. Having said that the next hint can be tricky if you are driving in the desert .

    10. Roll up your windows to reduce drag on your vehicle. Open side windows allow the rushing air into the vehicle and the rear window acts as a parachute would and slows the forward momentum. You've seen car races on TV where the parachute comes out of the back of the car to slow it down? Well that's what your rear window does, too.

    11. Avoid high speeds. It takes more gas to maintain a high speed and is a waste of gas. You can save up to 25% in gas driving at a slower speed.

    12. If it is legal in your state (it's not legal in some), slip into neutral on a downhill slope. This is DANGEROUS because when you shift back into gear you may accidentally go into reverse and you could lose your transmission (this is for automatic transmissions). If you drive a clutch, then no problem.

    13. Another helpful tactic is "drafting". It also can be dangerous. Drive behind a big rig and the draft behind the trailer will "pull" you along. But you need to be extremely alert and going faster than 40 mph. Don't try it with buses. They stop too often. (That's "drafting", we are not doing the "Tokyo Drift" here)

    14. Hopefully, (Unless you live in snow country, it's winter, and you have to have sandbags in your trunk) your trunk is empty so added weight won't make the engine work hard and cost you more gas.

    15. Hopefully, you have kept your car well maintained. Rotated tires and the proper inflation help increase mileage by not causing the engine to work harder turning (how can I say this?) "mushy" tires. A dirty carburetor or dirty injectors just snarf up the gas and waste it.

    16. Sounds dumb, but keeping the interior of the car clean and neat (no fast food litter, loose water bottle or soda cans rolling around) helps with driving attention and alertness when you are not worried about that stuff shifting around. When you are down to the last drop, you don't need that worry cluttering your mind.

    17. Another shoulda coulda woulda. Keep your gastank cap closed tightly. Gas evaporates rapidly! If it is hot out when you are low or almost out of gas, it expands in the tank and you have a better chance of riding in on the fumes. (Not even going to tell you how many times that little factoid has saved me)

    18. If you have a GPS unit in the car, USE it. It can save you miles, time and gas finding the nearest gas station (or the shortest way home from where you are).

    19. If it's raining and you can avoid the puddles, do so safely. Driving through water slows it down, makes the engine work harder, can get your engine wet and stall the car. It takes a lot of gas to start a stalled car. Don't want to go there. (Almost forgot that one, but it started to rain here.)

    I know some of the tricks and tips are things you should do BEFORE you run out of gas, but they can help you become a savvy safer driver. At one time or another I have had to use every one of these tricks and boy do I ever thank my trucker dad for it.

    Here is a website evaluating whether some techniques are safe or worth the attention and work involved:

    Source(s): My dad, and the aforementioned sites.
  • None
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    1. Drive as slowly as is safe. Keep to the verge and use your emergency flashers.

    2. Accelerate at open throttle and then lift off to coast as long as you can. Stay in the highest gear that will keep the car moving without stalling out.

    3.Take of fyour right shoe and feel the accelerator with your foot. This will give you a more delicate touch to keep the car in motion. Pretend there is a raw egg between your foot and the accelerator pedal

    4. In most instances you should not disengage the transmission because you may encounter some unexpected need to drive the vehicle. Possibly the only exception may be when there is not other traffic.

    5. Shut down all auxiliary equipment. Any electrical drain on the battery increases the work the engine has to do.

    6. Make sure your air conditioner is off.

    7. close all windows and the sunroof.

    You may not be able to do all of these things, but each one helps..

  • Kim
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    I keep the throttle at a constant 1/8th or so.. I get up about 5 over the speed limit, and COAST. I also use the brake AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. If I can take a corner at the speed limit without endangering myself, or anyone else, I do it. This is a problem I find myself having CONSTANTLY, and I've actually gotten so low on fuel before that it quit just a few inches away from the gas pump... Funny thing is I got higher gas mileage going 90 MPH than I did 55, or 70! I think that's just MY car though..

  • 1 decade ago

    1. Use high gear to drive moderately fast but never be too fast as you will need to achieve high rpm as you get faster.

    2. Keep your rpm lowest possible at around 2000rpm. When your rpm increases from 2000 to 3000, the fuel consumption increases exponentially as compared to increase from 1000 to 2000.

    3. Switch off the air-cond. A typical car air-cond consumes at least 500W, which is the roughly the same power to move a car. In a Mythbuster episode, they have proven that opening the windows for ventilation does not cause much air drag. So it’s better to open the windows a little bit rather than switching on the air-cond.

    4. Switch gear to neutral as frequent as possible. This is because getting your tyres engaged to the engine produces so much friction that you can feel it yourself.

    5. Accelerate a little for momentum before going up hill to keep rpm low when climbing hills.

    6. Keep acceleration low. Do not accelerate abruptly as energy is wasted somewhere in the clutch of the car.

    7. In another Mythbuster episode, they have proven you can save much fuel by following a vehicle as near as possible, because there is a suction behind these cars and it is better a truck or big car with big air turbulence. By doing so, you remove 80% friction, not 80% fuel consumption as claimed by Terence R.

    8. Inflate your tyres immediately. Soft tyres or deflated tyres consumes so much power that you can feel the friction. If you had experience with cycling, you would know deflated tyres strain your leg muscles so much.

    9. Avoid stops/slowing downs as they waste fuel energy. Instead, release the fuel pedal to let the car slows down over the distance rather than braking the car.

    Source(s): F1 driver, haha.
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  • 1 decade ago

    The more the gas pedal is pressed the more fuel your engine consumes. The faster your car goes the less time it takes to get from A to B.

    You need to find that balance between using as little gas for the most speed. With most cars it tends to be around 80-90KMh but depends on weight and drag.

    Also you need to keep the gas pedal at a steady position for as long as you can, no heavy accelerating etc. and try and keep using the brake pedal to an absolute minimum as this is wasted energy. Make use of gradients too and keep to your steady foot technique going down hills but do not speed as energy is wasted in wind resistance. Also accelerate a little more for momentum before going up a steep hill so as not to use the pedal to the extreme whilst on the hill climb. Also turn down, or better still, switch off the air conditioner and make sure your windows are closed!

    Another technique but not recommended for saftety reasons is to flick your car into neutral (or depress the clutch) and take your foot off the gas when going down hills etc. Yes this still uses more fuel than just decellerating (no fuel) before anyone pipes up but the reduction in engine braking effect lets you travel a little further.

    Source(s): Experience
  • jimmy
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    When the fuel indicator light starts flashing---you have about 30km to 50km of driving pleasure on average. This is not the time to start saving fuel, which should be done all the time....*keep at the optimal speed according to road conditions, as long as is safe (e.g. 1st gear 10km/hr, 2nd gear 20km/hr, 3rd gear 30km/hr 4th gear 40km & 5th gear 50km/hr --estimates only--) these gears and speed, you get the most out of the fuel....[i.e. if you go slower, you need to use a lower gear , this wastes fuel; if you drive faster than the gear allows, you are over-running the engine, and this also waste fuel. ] Then....coast (no fuel pedal pressure, but with clutch down ) to traffic lights (red), but do not speed up to catch sudden stops (this waste the 'momentum' of the weight of he car-which keeps it going). On automatics, use the normal 'D' can't control gear/speed..................

    Other things which can be done not involving driving techniques(as such) includes, shutting down the air-con, but on a hot day, you need to open the windows which wastes you need to compromise can get down to increase the pressure of the tyres within the safty limit, if you have a portable tyre pump....

  • 1 decade ago

    1) Drive slowly, keep to the slow lane and if it's dark, keep all necessary lights on.

    2) Do keep your accessories like A/Cond, Charger, etc. off.

    3) Keep your acceleration smooth and low. If you're driving a manual, keep the gear in pace; whilst for auto, keep in low speeds.

    4) Remove excess weight and burden. All unnecessary items, get them removed from the vehicle.

    5) Finally, enjoy the slow drive. Switch on your radio. It won't drain your petrol...

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Roll down your window and shut-off your aircond. You should drive constantly, don't slow down your speed as when you lower your speed you will consume more gas and do not speed up as this also will increase the gas consumption. Then...... keep-on pray that you will find the nearest petrol station.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    i'll try to drive constantly and try not to press on the break too offend and turn off the air-con. when on slope try to go on free gear and glide along the way down the trick to save your fuel is not to press on your break too oftend as this will decressed your speed and in the end you had to press on the gear just to keep the speed up, and this will not save your fuel much.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Drive slowly..keep the rpm meter as low as not use aircond/heater...and pray that you make it to a gas station

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