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Old 06-05-2008, 04:17 AM   #1
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Thumbs up What are your personal ways to save fuel?

The prices are insane. We have to figure out how to manage our fuel costs better, as a family who travels and camps, its not easy to justify trips and the big trucks we have to have for the Airstreams...

I'm born and raised in Europe, and we always had to think about fuel, but here its a new thing, so my husband and I sat down and started thinking like we do at home. We spend half the year in each place, so that Euro-fuel mentality is never far away anyhow.

1) We stopped driving to places we can wait and go on 1 trip. In other words- we'll try and plan a week in advance, if we need to go 30 miles away, we'll make all our stops on one trip- the motorcycle shop for an air filter, the trailer supply for bearings, marine supply for polishing pads, dads haircut, baby getting his hearing screening test, dropping the extra tires off at a friends warehouse, and Home Depot- that was yesterdays list. Normally we'd have spread it out over 2 days- but with fuel on our minds, leaving the house means going as many places at once.

2) Buying an extra car- we have 2 F350's with diesels. Lots of people are considering smaller cars and trading in or selling the big one for one. You lose an awful lot of money- we decided to buy a cheap used car with a small 4 cylinder, just to run around with. We'll trade a lot of miles we drive from the trucks, especially around town- to the small car. If you have a new SUV, the amount you'd lose would pay for a lot of fuel and a small car- like a VW, a Civic, etc. We have motorcycles, but with the baby, its not always an option.

3) Stocking up- we have a baby, 8 weeks old. Diapers, wipes, you get the picture. We bought enough size 2, which he's in now, and 3- his next needed size, to avoid any extra runs to Wal Mart, which is not close. We normally go weekly, now we go every 2-3 weeks, bought extra of everything.

4) Slowing down. My man just simply cruises at 55-60 now. We got a lot better mileage when he did. Just went to KY and back to Daytona hauling back full. It was more expensive on the way home, than out- fuel prices raised that much. On a 2000 mile trip, getting an average of 16, by slowing down, gets the trip done in 125 gallons, it was about $4.65 per, so we spent about $580. Speeding up to 70-75 drops us to about 12, cost would be $200 more. Thats a lotta diapers.

5) Feathering- my man starts the truck off slow, he called it feathering, where he lightly gets the truck up to speed. Doesn't stomp on it, unless it's absolutely necessary. Has to save something.

6) Bio-diesel. We have a place that sells bio diesel- B99 to be exact. They're about 50 cents a gallon cheaper. We also log onto the cheap fuel price web sites to shop when we're ready to fuel up- it helps.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO SAVE MONEY ON FUEL? Interesting to hear the stories. EZ

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Old 06-05-2008, 04:28 AM   #2
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Good Post!

All of the above. Slowing down is a big savings. Hard to do after years of devil may care, push the speed limit to 6 - 7 MPH over posted speed. No more. Set the cruise @ or just below when towing.
I keep an eye on the prices by the on-line service that list the prices by city or zip code. Plan my refills that way and try not to go out of my way to fill.
Using a fuel additive in the Diesel. (Opti-Lube) this has gained me over 1 MPG, which pretty much pays for the cost of using it.

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Old 06-05-2008, 04:34 AM   #3
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We had a bad habit of stopping at fast food joints when on the road. On my trip to the INDY 500 this year I never 'ate out' but instead stopped at a rest stop to prepare and eat a meal in the Airstream or TV. While a the race I cooked all our meals. This helped offset the increased cost of fuel immensely.

I'm parking my TV, driving one of our more economical vehicles and am looking forward to my new 'town car' a SmartCar which should be delivered after the first of the year. 2010 will debut a wide choice of alternate fuel vehicles to choose from for us all. About time.

Slow starts at the green light, easy on the pedal up hill and coasting down with the foot off the gas pedal works well for me as well.

The sticker shock is not as severe if I fill up when half empty instead of completely empty
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Old 06-05-2008, 04:42 AM   #4
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OH....and most importantly.....slow down while towing. It saves the GoodYears and fuel. Since keeping our max towing speed to the ratings for the GoodYears i.e. 65psi and 65mph, we've had no tire issues and have saved fuel. How could I not include that in my initial response???
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:21 AM   #5
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We've had Smarts in Europe for years- they make a 700cc diesel that gets about 70MPG. I don't own one, but we rent them when its possible. Baby now changes that- the Smart ForFour is not as nice, or as cool, as the ForTwo. The best one is the ForTwo roadster- convertible with the diesel. We're both tall and fit perfectly in one.
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:40 AM   #6
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Hey there Ellie. The ForTwo is actually what I've ordered and it'll be with AC, the mid-price range unit. I've seen only one in our small town and it still had the paper plates. I think it'll be a great little car to drive around town and save on fuel. If I don't like it I just bet I'll be able to sell it for a profit since the wait list is so long.
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:49 AM   #7
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You'll be surprised at the quality- if they're still built in Europe, and not Mexico. I was shocked at how nice they are and ride. Its so small, you'd think it would be scary to drive, but up to about 120KM/h- which is around your 70MPH- I felt fine and the car was totally stable. My man was bragging how great they are, how much room they have, but until I sat and drove, couldn't believe it.

A blend of a Smart and a big truck/SUV are a great way to beat the costs down. The only thing thats hard to swallow is the price- you can buy one on Europe for much less, which is why they're so sensible. Designed by Swatch, built by Mercedes, costing less than 10K (in EU). The design allows for perpendicular parking in Paris, which is why they have the length they do. If you've ever been in Paris, trying to park while late for an appointment- you can appreciate being able to park with your front bumper into the curb.
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Old 06-05-2008, 06:29 AM   #8
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EllieZ... My guess is you are using the 350 pickups to haul a motorcycle in the bed while towing one of your light weight Airstreams.

Europeon Rver's have adapted to fuel prices by using fuel efficent vehicles for general use and towing.

Then again one could use a motorcycle to tow with but then where would you carry the baby???

Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 06-05-2008, 06:41 AM   #9
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Ditto to driving slower (55-60 while towing, 60 when not).
Years ago the government lowered the national speed limit to 55 mph to conserve fuel.

This time, there isn't really a shortage - it's just more expensive and slowing down will have the same effect - burn less fuel and therefore spend less on it.

Driving slower is safer too - things happen a little slower at 60 than they do at 70. Most of us towing are playing the back nine of life and our reflexes aren't what they used to be. Driving slower allows our slowed reflexes to react better to emergency situations.
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Old 06-05-2008, 06:47 AM   #10
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Best Way To Save Money

The absolute best way to save is not to go anywhere or buy anything.
From there the price goes up.
Before we sprouted 3 teenagers everything was different.
Now with the government printing money like the Wienmar it all gets a lot more serious.
I am looking toward a smaller, older Airstream, and my 25 is not even renovated yet.
My 8 cylinder pick up, while we still have it for work, has been replaced by a 4 cyl diesel Jeep Liberty for towing, recreation and commuting. We also have a sweet Toyota Corolla.
The kids pay for gas, insurance and can drive as long as they work part time for us.
We bake bread with a bread machine, grow our own meat and have a little garden.
Have been thinking about brewing beer since Maine is just about the highest in taxes but do not drink enough beer to justify it unless prices go too much higher.
Learn to live on nothing and make a dollar do the work of 5.
Live in a community that will not seek to destroy you.
"Talk is cheap, Airstreams are expensive," Wally Byam.
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Old 06-05-2008, 07:35 AM   #11
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Ruler- We have a sidecar for one of our Harleys, its a 1940's torpedo shape from Hungary. Looks awesome. Baby's just a bit young for it now.

We use the F350's because we need the room for everything, and have a camper that goes in the bed as well, for long trips. We have a hauling trailer thats 50' long, as well- holds 3 Bambi's.

Rob- ditto on the sustainability theme, and the money printing.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:38 AM   #12
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The cars are paid for, the depreciation is minimal, the upkeep is easily reasonable, so there would be no benefit to changing vehicles. That's usually false economy (someone who trades-in a vehicle every 3-4 years has lost the equivalent of a brand-new, paid-for vehicle every 12 years), and there is more to consider than fuel economy, unless, of course, the vehicle wasn't well chosen in the first place.

Our trailers are already ideal from the standpoint of fuel economy, it's only a question of size. From there, a reasonably safe speed, better trip planning, plus small economies that add up make them economical.

Compared to the junk-bond quality giant fifth wheels wheezing along at 9 mpg behind a diesel dually, we got it made.

And maybe our Canadian neighbors will finally get the respect they've earned (along with disciples of Can Am RV's Andy Thomson) for stressing wide-stanced, independently-suspended tow vehicles achielving high teens fuel economy.

Personally, no changes. I was already combining trips in the 1970's and never really changed. I've always enjoyed beating the EPA mileage estimates that others whined were unrealistic. I've simply been practicing "not stopping" as much as possible (for signal lights), and always recalling that the average speed of traffic in metro areas off of highways/expressways/parkways is but 15 mph. No point in accelerating past 10 mph BELOW the speed limit, and sort of drifting along at whatever allows me to make the lights.

Slow acceleration isn't always the point, my old man could beat me at the mpg game and ALWAYS out-accelerated me. The key is to be in top gear as long as possible. (How to know you're doing a good job? I almost always get 70,000 miles out of a set of brakes. But Pops would get 90,000. And we NEVER ran them down to fail safe. How many miles do you get?)

Economy, performance and safety go hand in hand. Proper driving posture means more than comfort. The use of mirrors is easily as important as using the brake. Ultra-clean glass, headlights, tail-lights, the list goes on. It's more than a knee-jerk reaction to pump up the tires to maximum as that may badly affect handling. I keep my tires at their recommended numbers, although I have experimented within ranges, keeping FF/RR balances.

I average better mpg in town than my wife in her ultra-modern variable-valve timing 3-liter six that probably weighs 3,400-lbs. My truck weighs almost 4-tons. And she is a careful driver. Practice makes for good habits.

Ever wonder why so many old people are poor drivers? My old man, with senile dementia, has his doctor and the folks at DPS in fits because they CAN'T fail him. Why? Because his driving habits have been impeccable since 1939. The keys will have to go away sooner than later, but YOU CAN'T BEAT GOOD SAFE HABITS. Those "bad" old people nevef had any good habits in the first place; proper understanding. Now, old, decrepit, they have nothing solid to fall back on.

Here's a little one for you. And, it's the law: Do you come to a full stop somewhere within ten-feet BEFORE a stop sign, never crossing the imaginary line across the road? Or, do you not come to your "stop" until you are in the intersection(causing a threat to other drivers, present or not)?

If I'm the one rolling along the other road, that you have stopped for in the intersection then I MUST modify my driving to deal with the threat you've presented; in order to be safe. As a result, I loose some tiny bit of fuel economy which -- beyond the already mentioned proper vehicle selection, necessary planned trips, and careful attitude -- coming second to safety, loses one of those small bits that, together, add up to consistent savings year after year.

To answer the OP question of what I do, then, simply, it is that I have become better about observing, practicing ALL the rules of the road. We're in this together, despite what the advertisers and too many others would have us believe is a difference of "lifestyle" (a bogus, false term if there ever was one).

My answer is that some years ago I wanted to overcome my slack habits that had accumulated, and I got the drivers handbook they give the kiddies and started over. The dividends, ALL of them, are satisfying.
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Old 06-05-2008, 12:05 PM   #13
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I have always been driving somewhat conservative. Not necessarily slow, but conservative. So there is not much I can do to save fuel on that end.
I do use my motorcycle and bicycle now whenever possible. Bicycle get's 200miles per gallon of water, and the motorcycle about 45miles per gallon of Supreme. The nice thing about the motorcycle is that it saves a lot of gas ( and time ) while it's still a lot of fun to ride.
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:42 PM   #14
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At this point I've left the AS at the campground and ride the motorbike ( a BMW fitting of the snob AS image they say) to it. They charge me $40 a month and put it on/off the site and level it. The bike averaged 48.6 mpg on my last trip up in May. With the savings I can afford to buy a couple more of those wonderful pink flamingos and a real bottle of wine without a screw cap.


"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

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