Gas Price Solutions, Part 2: How to Go Farther on Less Fuel

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Two weeks ago, we asked our readers for their advice on how to save money at the pump. In the more than 1,500 responses that followed, we found a lot of creative solutions, covering everything from retrofitting your car to selling it and buying a bicycle. Our first gas advice post, which ran earlier this week, explored your suggestions for economizing. Today's piece looks at maintenance and new vehicle purchases that will help you go farther on less fuel.

Hybrids and Electrics and Diesels ...

Not surprisingly, one of the most popular suggestions for cutting down at the pump involved in buying a more fuel-efficient car. The Toyota Prius was especially popular among DailyFinance readers and, as "TM Souza" found, the car's efficiency more than offset its cost: "I sold my Toyota Sequoia for a Toyota Prius and went from 14.1 miles per gallon to 50 miles per gallon the savings in gasoline pays for my new vehicle."

However, the Prius was far from the only new car option that readers praised. "Mel" noted that his 2008 Toyota Camry hybrid makes him "a happy camper," "Jim" praised his 2008 Civic hybrid, and "Chuck" proclaimed that his Nissan Leaf means that "We don't need to buy no stinkin' gas!"

But hybrids and electric cars aren't the only cost-saving options out there. "Jim D." claimed that his 1969 912 Porsche averages "in the mid 30 mpg's." He went on to write that "I'm also seeing a lot of 50 and 60 VW's on the road that get great mileage. In California you need to bring a spare shirt on hot days, but it's worth it."

"Paul" endorsed the Geo Metro five-speed, and "TFodel" praised the 1979 VW Rabbit diesel, but the ultimate in gas-sipping retro drivers may be "EldonFlorence," who wrote that "I dusted off my one-cylinder 1904 Oldsmobile Curved Dash," which "gets about 50 miles to the gallon."

Take the Bus ... or the Harley

Of course, nothing's as cheap as the car that you don't buy, and many readers pointed out the wonders of public transportation. "Vcgh2000" but it bluntly, noting "Want to bring gas prices down??? Take the train."

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Meanwhile, "Crgphillips5" noted the relaxing effects of public transportation, stating that "I take the bus often ... by leaving options available besides the car, I relax myself and drive less...with no time lost and money saved." Overall, however, "Nocstreet" was the boldest defender of public transportation, stating that "I told my husband if he bought another tank of premium gas, I'd take his car away." Luckily, she notes, "Oregon's Portland metro area is continuing to work on a great transit system. Hope they don't let anyone convince them it's not worth it."

Many areas don't have a strong public transportation infrastructure, though, and in those that do, using it requires people to adjust to a bus, train or subway schedule. However, many readers noted that bicycles and motorcycles let them maintain their freedom while cutting down on their gas expenditures. For example, "Rob" noted that his 1984 Honda motorcycle gets between 52 and 55 miles per gallon, which means that "$11.30 will last eight days on a tank .... So sorry to make all you Chevy Tahoe and Escalade owners weep." Similarly, "Harleydavid105" endorses American motorcycles, pointing out that his Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide gets "45 miles per gallon and keeps America working."

Of course, motorcycles have problems of their own. "GJ Meyer" complains that, because of neighborhood restrictions, he has to "drive an electric cart a mile and a half to get my motorcycle." And, as "chzyrider" admits, motorcycles aren't great in the rain: "There are days when the weather is totally unfavorable, and I will drive on those days." However, he emphasizes that, for "trained, safe" riders, motorcycles are "legitimate, feasible and FUN."

Get Under the Hood

Given the vast array of gas-saving tools on the market, it's not surprising that many readers suggested ways that car customizing could lower gas consumption. On the simplest level, this involved taking things out: While some readers endorse taking out floor mats and spare tires, "Ray" took this to an extreme, pulling out his car's seats (except the driver's!), ash trays, speakers, radio, sound deadening material, interior trim "and anything else not integral to the vehicle's driving ability." This reduction of his car's weight, he claimed, helped him get 50 mpg out of his 1995 Nissan Sentra.

"Ron" agreed that drivers should "Take off your hubcaps, take out your backseat, door panels, carpeting and everything else that isn't needed." However, he went a step further, noting that installing a "cold air intake," adding "dual exhaust with flow-master mufflers" and using "the lightest-weigh oil your engine can stand" will all add miles per gallon to a tank.

Many readers suggested using a high-flow air filter. "DVilla4940" especially endorsed K&N filters, which he said "will give you about 2 more miles per gallon." "Mr. Terrific" suggested using gas chips, claiming that the 5-minute installation "added 90 miles to a tank of gas."

While most drivers aren't quite ready to pull out their car's back seat or switch over to a cold-air intake system, Daily Finance's readers suggest that there are lots of ways to increase gas efficiency ... as well as fun!
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