So, I bet you’re wondering how I got 36 miles per gallon out of my trusty steed?

First, let me get something off my chest. I broke a promise.

Remember when I started this whole thing I mentioned not doing anything crazy or illegal?

I might have fudged a little on the second part…specifically the issue of coasting downhill in neutral.

Though, the legal cosmos are more than balanced because I rarely eclipsed the speed limit, which usually amounted to no more than five over. I went 65 on the highway once, but that was to pass an erratically driven truck.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating people break traffic laws, but my rationalization went something like this: What’s worse, knowing you’ve broken the law by driving 5 or 10 mph over the speed limit, or coasting down a few hills?

Plus, the allure of saving money when everything seems to get more expensive by the day was too much to ignore.

In fact, I got even more curious about the law prohibiting coasting in neutral. It was passed in 1965, and has never been amended. Jerry Sheehan, the director of the Legislative Information Center, was kind enough to see if his folks could dig up any info on why and how this law came to be. It’s so old, there might not be anything out there, but you never know.

Enough about that.

Now, for the other ways I saved:

Slow down. Go the speed limit.

Fill your tires. I filled my tires to 35 psi, the max sidewall recommendation. And check them! (I’ve noticed my front right tire deflates faster than the others.)

Keep the revs low. Here’s where I have an advantage with the 6-speed manual. I’ve tried really hard to keep the revs around 2,000. That’s a far cry from the banshee wail of my engine in second gear ripping up to 60 at 8,300 rpm on freeway onramps. (Anybody whose driven a car – Vibe GT, Matrix and Corolla XRS, Celica – with my engine knows what I’m talking about.)

Time the traffic lights. This is a big one that I never thought about before: Don’t speed up to stoplights. Meaning, keep an eye out waaaay ahead. If the light’s yellow, red, or has been green a long time, gradually slow down. Often times you won’t even have to stop at the light because it’ll turn green by the time you get there.

Take all the extra junk out of your car. (For me, it was mostly garbage and my golf clubs.)

Don’t run the A/C. Yes, it was hot, but I lived.