Latham’s top ten ways to save gas

An email today from the office of Congressman Tom Latham (R-Ames) included a link to this — a Top Ten list of ways to save gas.  The list was issued in June.  It did not include proper tire inflation, but it did encourage folks to clean the kitty litter out of their trunk.  (For you who live in warm climates, Iowans carry bags of kitty litter in their trunks and — when stuck in the snow or stalled on the ice — spread the kitty litter out on the ice/snow to provide additional traction for the tires.)  Latham’s top ten, copied below.

yTop Ten Tips for Saving Gas

1. Car Pooling. Consider car pooling as a first option to save gas. Not only will your car be used less often, but there are many other benefits: employees who carpool are more efficient and less stressed at work.   

2. Heavy Hauling. Many people keep unnecessary things in their vehicles, such as golf clubs, sand or kitty litter for the winter, or just things they have accumulated and forgotten about in the trunk. An extra 50 pounds of “stuff” is the equivalent of carrying around a small child, and using all the fuel it takes to move the extra weight. Clean out the car—and keep it clean—to maximize your fuel efficiency.

3. Improve Aerodynamics. An open window at highway speeds can sap up to 10% of your fuel efficiency. Close the window. Also, if you’re not using that roof rack, take it down. It also makes it tougher for your car to move through the wind.

4. Simple Maintenance. Inexpensive things like air filters can add an extra 10% efficiency to your engine, reducing your fuel consumption, and saving you money at the pump. 

5. No more “jack-rabbit” starts. Quick starts from a stop sign or a green light are not only dangerous and put a lot of wear and tear on your car, they’re horrible for fuel efficiency. Slowly accelerate from a stop and you’ll save on gas. 

6. Cold Gas vs. Hot Gas. Cold gas is denser than hot gas, and since the pumps at the gas station measure volume, you’ll actually get more gas in your tank for the same price when it’s cold. So, gas up in the morning, not in the middle of the day. 

7. Steady Speeds. When you’re driving in traffic or on the highway, slowing down and speeding up to hang onto the bumper of the car in front of you wastes a lot of gas. Drive steadily and let the cars in front of you get some distance. The rule of thumb is: for every 10 miles per hour, allow one car length. So, if you’re driving 50 miles per hour, allow five car lengths between you and the car in front of you. 

8. Hills Kill Gas Mileage. If you’re going to be going up hills, plan your acceleration. If you accelerate to get over the hill before you start driving up the hill, you’ll save much more gas than you would if you accelerate while on the hill. Why? Gravity. It pulls your car down and therefore when going up a hill you need more energy to accelerate than if you are on a flat surface. 

9. Planning and Combining Trips. Don’t keep running out for each individual errand. Combine errands (which means you’ll have to plan them out) and you’ll save all that extra driving and all that extra gas. 

10. Slow Down! This is the best thing you can do to save gas. If you must drive, driving at slower speeds will reduce your gas costs more than anything else. Slow down to the speed limit and not only will you save on gas, you’ll never worry about speeding tickets either.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Latham also slams his opponent as “nonsensical” charge that leases need to be explored before they come back to the trough for more leases. He wants everyone to know the leases are only for five years, and if not acted on, they lose them? Maybe Latham needs to tell the truth about the leases. His credibility gap is so huge, the only acceptable explanation would include making the leases available for inspection by the public. Yep. You’re right. He won’t do that. Wonder why?