Gas prices in 2022 have skyrocketed worldwide. California is no exception. For teen drivers, this can be especially challenging. Are your parents constantly nagging you about how much money you’re spending on gas? Or is your part-time job now fully devoted to the pump? We know saving money at the pump is not in your driver’s ed program, so we’re here to help. As a new driver, learning some basic information about driving habits and vehicle types can help you save money on gas.

In this article, we are going to ‌look at how to get better gas mileage. We will look at tips and tricks while driving: diesel vs gas, electric cars vs gas cars, and manual vs automatic cars. We know everyone’s pockets are feeling the rising gas prices, so we hope in this article we can show new teen drivers (and more seasoned drivers) some good tips and tricks to save. 

8 Behavioral Tips to Get Better Gas Mileage:

In some cases, saving on gas mileage may be as easy as changing your driving habits. In this section, we will ‌look at driving habits to consider when on the road, time of day to be traveling, and car maintenance that will help you achieve better gas mileage. 


This one may seem like common sense, but it’s an important one. The optimal speed for gas mileage is 55-65 miles per hour. Any faster than that and your gas mileage decreases rapidly. For example, traveling 85mph could decrease fuel efficiency by up to 40%. Speeding is not only bad for your gas tank, it’s also illegal. So save money on tickets and at the pump and watch your speed.

Conservative driving

We are addressing this one to the people who have a “lead” foot, as they say. Stepping on the gas to accelerate quickly uses more gas than a more gradual increase in speed. This is the same for people who like to slam on their brakes. This stop and go mentality could actually decrease your gas mileage by 15-30%.

Rush hour

If you are able to avoid rush hour times for travel, do it. We know things like work, school, or appointments do not always allow for you to choose your time of travel, but we will note that sitting in traffic (and all the added stopping and going) uses more gas.

Cruise control

When on the highway, a great tool you can use to help with gas mileage is cruise control. Keeping a constant speed is the best way to save on gas and will help avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration. Please use the cruise control with caution in unfamiliar weather conditions or slick roads, and always keep your foot near the pedals.

Air conditioning

Air conditioning uses gas. AC comes from the alternator, which is powered by the engine. And as we know, the engine runs on fuel. In California, or other warmer states, opening the window to let in some fresh air or using the fans (without cooling enabled) will help save on gas mileage.

Car maintenance

Keeping a clean and maintained engine will ensure the engine is running at its optimum level, ensuring that you are getting the most out of your gas mileage. Make sure you keep a tune up schedule so you never go too long without one. 

Excess weight/drag

Drag is a type of friction that occurs when a moving object encounters resistance from the air. Things like bike racks or roof top cargo carriers can cause a good amount of drag. When not in use, it’s always good practice to remove these. Excess weight is always another thing to consider. If you have a trunk full of things you don’t need, take them out. A lighter car will use less gas when accelerating and braking. 

Tire Pressure

Having the right tire pressure is also always important. Having low tire pressure can reduce gas mileage by about 3%. So check your tires periodically, especially on older vehicles and tires. 

What type of car should I buy?

If you’re a new teen driver, the tips above are good for every vehicle. If you are lucky enough to be looking to purchase your first vehicle, there are many other things to consider as well. Although considering gas mileage is boring and not on the top of most first-time car owners, it is something you will thank yourself for considering down the road. Let’s take a look at diesel vs gas vehicles, electric cars vs gas cars, and manual vs automatic transmission. 

Diesel vs Gas

When comparing diesel vs gas, it’s a pretty clear winner. Diesel is the winner for gas mileage. “Diesel engines are more fuel-efficient and have more low-end torque than similar-sized gasoline engines, and diesel fuel contains roughly 10% to 15% more energy than gasoline. So, diesel vehicles can often go about 20% to 35% farther on a gallon of fuel than their gasoline counterparts. Plus, today’s diesel vehicles are much improved over diesels of the past” according to

With a diesel engine, you will have more power, more efficiency, and more acceleration, but it does come at a cost. Current diesel prices in California are significantly higher than that of premium gasoline. So in turn, you may get more miles to the gallon but not saving any money. So when looking at diesel vs gas, take into consideration all angles including price, vehicle, and what you will primarily use the vehicle for. 

Electric Cars vs Gas Cars

When comparing electric cars vs gas cars, it’s intuitive that electric vehicles are better for the environment and typically use less gas. However, there is more to it than most people know. According to Self Inc., the average cost to run an electric car per year is $3,679 vs $4,336 for a gas-powered vehicle. However, this number does not paint the whole picture. When you look at a broader lens, electric cars are actually typically more expensive. The total yearly cost of an electric car is $10,360 on average vs $8,691 for a gas vehicle when you factor in purchase price. 

So when looking at electric cars vs gas cars, it’s easy to see that an electric vehicle gets more miles per gallon. But it’s important to look at all expenses, including maintenance, electricity costs, fuel costs, battery replacement, and insurance rates before choosing. 

Manual vs Automatic

Many drivers today will never operate a manual transmission vehicle, (though we think it’s an important skill to learn and encourage everyone to do so). If you are a new driver who did learn how to drive on a manual transmission vehicle, you may contemplate manual vs automatic for your first vehicle. Let’s take a look at the difference. 

According to Consumer Reports, “In our tests, we’ve found that in some cars a manual transmission can improve gas mileage by a significant 2 to 5 mpg, compared with an automatic, and can cut a car’s price by $800 to $1,200.” The answer here is pretty simple. If you consider fuel efficiency, a manual transmission typically wins that battle. The ‌bonus is that your vehicle will probably be less expensive to purchase as well. Although manual does not win on comfort, it does win at the pump.


So, what’s the best way to get better gas mileage? The answer is a little bit complicated. It depends on your car and your driving habits. But in general, if you want to save money on gas, it’s worth considering switching to a manual transmission car, a diesel engine car, or even an electric vehicle.