We’ve all been there: miles from nowhere (or the nearest gas station) when the needle hits E. While most of us aren’t interested in pushing our cars to the limit (take note habitual dry-tank drivers: engineers warn that running out of gas repeatedly may damage your fuel pump), occasionally even the most conscientious among us will find themselves running on empty. Remember these 6 simple tips for conserving the gas in your tank when the meter is low.

1. Keep coasting

Slowly coasting to a red light uses less gas than accelerating and braking to stop. So when you have the option to do so safely, coasting can help your overall fuel economy.

2. Make more right-hand turns

A good tip for city drivers: making multiple right-hand turns (even if it means going a few blocks out of your way) uses less gas than idling your engine while you wait to make a left.

3. Curb aggressive driving

Driving aggressively is not only dangerous — it’s also bad for your overall fuel economy. Turns out speeding, hard braking, and fast acceleration makes you a menace on the road and wastes your gas (by as much as 15 to 30 percent at highway speeds and between 10 and 40 percent in traffic).

4. Use cruise control for highway driving

Setting your cruise control while driving at higher speeds, like on a freeway or highway, will help you maintain a continuous speed and can ultimately save you precious fuel.

5. Don’t use AC when driving slowly 

Using the air conditioner, particularly when driving at slower speeds, can reduce your overall fuel economy by as much as 25 percent. If it’s not a super hot day and you’re maintaining moderate speeds or driving for just a short while, roll the windows down and turn off the AC.

6. Close your windows and use AC when driving fast 

Keeping your windows shut when traveling at speeds greater than 55 mph reduces the drag (also known as aerodynamic wind resistance) on your car and can save you fuel in the long run. If it’s a hot day and you’re doing some highway driving, keep the widows shut and turn on the AC. Remember to cool the car’s cabin before you start running it (lower the windows for a bit to let the hot air out) for a faster, more fuel efficient cooldown.

Once you’ve squeezed every last bit of fuel economy out of your tank, make haste and get yourself safely to the nearest gas station to refuel.

And when you’re not running on E, you can check out Fuelcaster, our online gas predictor, which helps you see when you could save money at the pump! It’s basically a secret mix of digital herbs and mathematical spices that combine to tell you when it’s a good time to buy gas (thanks to our friends at GasBuddy).

Safe and smart | Car safety


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.