Lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, entertainment, the arts, and more. Hosted by Larry Mantle

Busted: The 5 biggest gas-saving myths

by AirTalk®

48554 full
Customers gas up their car at a Costco Wholesale Corp,. which is still open ,after several Costco gas station in the Southland ran out of gas on October 5, 2012 in Burbank, California. Rationing supplies by state's oil refineries and sharp rise in gas prices forced some gas stations to temporarily close. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With California gas prices soaring to painful new highs this week, you might be wishing you could trade in that gas-guzzler for a hybrid. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for everyone. So what’s a driver to do?

Well, it turns out there are some useful tips out there for saving real dollars without having to buy a new car. Chances are, you’ve heard a few of them and wondered if they were true.

Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor of shares with us some of the tests that they have done to see if the different ways of saving gas mileage really pay off or not.

Myth number one: Low tire inflation wastes fuel
“Tire pressure, I have to say, it’s extremely important for safety, but the problem is if you have uninflated tires and you fill them up you wont be able to tell the difference in fuel efficiency. It’s in the area of one-to-three percent, which is hard to tell for consumers, but you will be able to drive more efficiently and more safely,” Reed said.

So while your wallet might not be able to tell the difference in having a good tire pressure, it is a good idea to make sure you are safe on the road.

Myth number two: Does turning off the air conditioner save gas?
Reed says, “It depends on the aerodynamics of your vehicle, it’s a fine line. The myth comes from the old days when they had really old parts of the older cars… there isn’t absolutely no difference but it is really, really small. You wont see a big jump in your fuel economy.”

Meaning don’t worry too much about running that A/C.

Myth number three: Does excessive idling waste fuel?
In the Edmunds experiment, Reed finds that, “We drove a certain route stopping ten times and idling for two minutes each time. Then we did the same route but with just stopping and turning the car off and we found a 10-percent difference, which is very significant.”

So next time you have to run into the house to grab something, turn the car off and you will save more cents per gallon.

Myth number four: Aggressive driving goes through fuel more quickly
“We accelerated hard 10 times and cruised through the high speed, then used the breaks very aggressively, and we are talking about a three-quarters throttle…if we went from the three quarters to a one quarter throttle, some of the savings were up to 37 percent and the average was 31 percent, so my advice would be stop driving like a maniac,” Reed and the Edmunds team reports.

And on premium fuel use?
Reed notes, “They are going more towards turbo-charged engines, and it is worth trying the higher grade with the turbo-charged engine because you may have a net gain with your fuel costs, but for all others only use premium fuel if it is required. Not recommended, required, that’s the key word.”

For more tips visit the Edmunds website.

Weigh In:

Can the Edmund’s tests be matched by anyone? What’s your favorite gas-saving tip?


Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor,

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy AirTalk®? Try KPCC’s other programs.

What's popular now on KPCC