It's Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer -- a season of picnics, road trips, amusement parks, and higher gas prices as half the country takes to the road to soak up the sunshine. And, with the price of a gallon of regular well north of $3 again, it should be no surprise that the Internet is full of helpful hints for cutting down your fuel expenditures. But if you've gotten tired of hearing about carpooling or the gas buddy, maybe you're ready for some advice that's a little more ... extreme.
For years, DailyFinance has been asking its readers for their best gas saving advice. And, while we've heard our share of the usual suggestions to ride a bike or take public transit, many readers have offered ideas that are a little more exciting. With that in mind, we've compiled some of the best out-of-the-box suggestions for cutting down on your gas expenses.
If you've got a great, weird idea that isn't on this list, put it in the comments section, or send it my way!
Fill'er Up With Weird: Our Readers' Surprising Gas Saving Tips
A few DailyFinance readers suggested that the best way to save on gas is to invest in it. "Jjhwy9bc" wrote that "I bought enough Chevron (CVX) stock so the annual dividends are about the same as my annual fuel cost. "Nick" followed a similar route, putting a tiger in his tank -- or at least his portfolio -- with an investment in Exxon (XOM) stock: "Our investment advisor expects an annual return (dividends plus stock price gain) of 10% to 15% a year, so the return on 100 shares should just about cover the gasoline price increase."
Here's a simple equation: the heavier your car is, the more gas you need to move it. With that in mind, many readers suggested putting your car on a weight-loss plan. "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.
Everybody knows that cars run on gas; what people often forget, though, is that they also run on air. With that in mind, some readers noted that K&N high-flow air filters can dramatically improve efficiency. "DVilla4940," put the improvement in numbers, claiming that a K&N "will give you about 2 more miles per gallon."
For those who are more mechanically inclined, a customized air intake and exhaust system can also have big dividends at the pump. "Ron," claimed that installing a "cold air intake," adding "dual exhaust with flow-master mufflers" and using "the lightest-weight oil your engine can stand" will all add miles per gallon to a tank.
Most people simply fill up whenever they need gas, but some readers claim that buying your gas at certain times of the day or week can make a huge difference in price. According to "Mel," gas is cheaper on Friday morning. Another reader, also named "Mel," claimed that the best time to buy gas is "during the coldest part of the day." He explained his logic in terms of density, explaining that when the weather is chilly, "liquid fuel is most dense and you get more BTU's per gallon."
Hybrids and electric cars have gotten a lot of attention recently, but even if you can't afford one of the recent technological marvels, there are other options to help you cut down on gas. "Jim D." claimed that his 1969 912 Porsche averages "in the mid 30 mpg's," while "Paul" endorsed the Geo Metro five-speed (pictured above). "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."
One of the best way to save on gas may be to fill your car up with something different. Several companies sell conversion kits that enable diesel cars to run off vegetable oil. Nicknamed "grease cars," these marvels can, literally, fill up at McDonald's, running off the discarded grease from deep fat fryers!