Park In The Shade And Save Gas

One easy way to save on gas is to park in the shade. The cooler your car is, the less the gas in your tank will evaporate. A quality windshield shade helps, too. After all, you wouldn’t want your hard-earned dollars to waft away into the sky, now would you?

11 car-care tips that save gas [Bankrate]


Edit Your Comment

  1. TuxthePenguin says:

    A few of the other ones sound reasonable enough… but really? Assuming you park in the sun on 100+ days compared to the shade on those days, what is the difference in gas lost to evaporation? How long would it have to sit there to have 1/4 of a gallon disappear (that wouldn’t even be a dollar’s worth…)?

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      And lots of luck finding a shady spot in places where the mercury tops 100 on a regular basis. Lots of urban designers apparently think trees take up too much room in parking lots.

    • caradrake says:

      I’d park in the shade not to save gas, but to keep the car as cool as possible. It’s not quite as hot anymore, but a car sitting in the sun for a few hours in Florida’s sun… ouch!!

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      Not to mention that all the money you save by parking in the shade will now be spent cleaning the tree sap off your car.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      The thing is, speaking as a guy who’s raced motorcycles for about 30 years and knows a thing or two about how fuel degrades, gasoline isn’t a “thing” as most people think about it. Like a computer not being a “thing” – it’s a collection of things…a CPU, some RAM, a motherboard, a hard drive, etc. Gasoline is similar – there are many different types of hydrocarbons in there – octane being the one people recognize most readily, as the octane rating on the pump is a measure of how much of that particular hydrocarbon is in the fuel – the more octane, the slower the gas burns.

      Less specifically, a fuel oil can be described in terms of “aromatics” and “non-aromatics” – the former being the bits that evaporate very easily, and which typically are also the bits that burn fastest and/or most explosively. The aromatics are the part that can escape over time from a plastic gas can…and in a vented container (like your car’s tank), they are the part that escapes when heated. What happens then is not that you lost a given volume of some homogenous liquid (like, ohs noes I lost 1/4 of a gallon of gas, therefore I am losing out on that much mileage), but the quality of the fuel in your tank has gotten worse across the board…such that if you normally got 20 miles to the gallon, maybe now you’re gonna get 19. Or worse, depending on your situation.

      • MrEvil says:

        Most modern automobiles don’t vent to open air. They vent fumes to a charcoal canister that is regularly purged via Engine Vacuum. Even if it evaporates out of your tank it gets entrained in the charcoal and is eventually consumed by your engine.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          That may be true, but the chemical content of the fuel has been changed. If you take the mayo off yer sandwich and let both stagnate for a while, putting it back together doesn’t make it edible again.

  2. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Your fuel system is supposed to be designed to minimize the amount of gasoline vapor (a nasty pollutant) that escapes into the atmosphere. Parking in the shade does, however, reduce the amount of time you’re blasting your AC at maximum trying to cool down the cabin. For this reason, some green groups are pushing for regulations on window tinting and paint color choices. It makes sense, but I doubt many people would appreciate a choice of five different shades of white when they go to buy a new car.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      And, as the point I made above, what is the difference in the amount of gas used to cool the car? If its sufficiently hot, I doubt that parking in the shade is going to make much difference.

      Cheap trick to cool the car. Open the windows when you get in. The air is heated to a high temperature inside the cabin than the air outside.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Quite true. I’ll add the tip that you should park your car where the shade WILL be when you return and not necessarily where it currently is.

      If the car slowly gets enveloped in shade over the long day, when you get in ready to leave, it will be cooler than a car that started out in the shade but then was introduced to the sun.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        If you can guess where the shade will be from noon to 3 PM, bonus points. I figure most people are familiar enough with their workplace parking lot to make that guestimate.

        • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

          I’ve been waiting all year to have a reason to quote this:

          “The missile knows where it is at all times. It knows this because it knows where it isn’t. By subtracting where it is from where it isn’t, or where it isn’t from where it is (whichever is greater), it obtains a difference, or deviation. The guidance subsystem uses deviations to generate corrective commands to drive the missile from a position where it is to a position where it isn’t, and arriving at a position where it wasn’t, it now is. Consequently, the position where it is, is now the position that it wasn’t, and it follows that the position that it was, is now the position that it isn’t.”

          • Nisun says:

            +1 for blowing my mind!

          • parv says:

            That is interesting quote which repeats the same theme multiple times in various ways. Where was it obtained from, and/or who did say|write it?

            • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

              It’s from an audio clip I heard online when I was much younger. It would have to be like 10 years ago.

            • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

              “In the event that the position where it is now is not the position where it wasn’t, the system has acquired a variation. The variation being the difference between where the missile is and where the missile wasn’t. If the variation is considered to be a significant factor, the missile
              guidance logic system will allow for the variation, provided that the missile knows where it was or is not now. Due to the variation modifying some of the information obtained by the missile, it is not sure where it is. However, the thought process of the missile is that it is sure where it isn’t, and it knows where it was, It now subtracts where it should be from where it wasn’t and adds the variable obtained by subtracting where it isn’t from where it was. In guidance system “language” this is called error, or the difference between deviation and variation found in the algebraic difference between where the missile shouldn’t be and where it is.”

  3. Tim says:

    [citation needed]

    No seriously. Is there any real science to back this up? If so, how much money does it actually save?

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      No citation. Besides the EPA would prohibit a car from operating if the gas tank vented to the outside air. There is a reason modern cars have a check engine light if you forget the gas cap!

  4. framitz says:

    The least useful tip since the loss due to vapor is minimal and my tank is under the car in the shade already.

    The rest of the tips are OK although nothing but common sense.

  5. blinky says:

    Good luck finding a shady spot in the parking lot.

  6. dangermike says:

    In terms of overall consumption, I wonder if the reduced AC usage (I refuse to consider gasoline evaporation since if this were even remotely significant, every warm parking lot would stink of fuel vapor) would be less than the increased number of washings necessary to remove sap, bird droppings, and other miscellaneous tree-related debris.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      When my car was new and I actually cared, I had a bottle of some Meguiars Quick Detailer I used to do quick localized cleanups of those things. Naturally, this also means keeping your paint clean and waxed.

      These days, aside from the minimum monthly wash recommended by the manufacturer (it was actually in my manual), I don’t wind up cleaning anything beyond what the rain rinses off or what my wipers can accomplish with the washing fluid.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Can someone tell me what it truly means to have your car “in tune.”

    I have a sneaking suspicion that if I ask my mechanic for a “tune up” he’s going to mark me as a sucker and find something to charge me for that is unneccesary.

    So when I am asking for a tune up, what am I really asking him to do?

    • craptastico says:

      changing the spark plugs i think is the standard. they probably check the air filter and stuff too and do an oil change as part of a routine maintenance package.

    • PanCake BuTT says:

      I think you answered your own question…you’re basically looking to get ripped off.

      Post Script ~~ There is this great invention as of recent called a search tool/bar. You punch in some keywords & waaaahh-Lahhhhh, answers galore ! Try it! You might be surprised what comes up. AOL as a great search engine, so does well as Netscape. Good luck!

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Wow, thanks for being an ass instead of helping out. This blog isn’t just for you and me you know, plenty of others would like auto advice.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        Tune ups are what your grandfather used to have done to his car. It involved checking/adjusting valve clearances, ignition timing, idle speed, and a whole list of other stuff that modern cars now do automatically as you drive. Nowadays you only need to change the plugs, and if you keep the car long enough, replace the timing belt at around 120,000 miles.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        And if you REALLY learn to use the internet to your advantage, you might learn the wonder and beauty of real words like “voila!”

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      A typical tune-up may include some/all of the following: fresh spark plugs, new plug wires, replace cap & rotor, new air filter, perhaps a new fuel filter, check/adjust the timing.

      • Extractor says:

        Forgot to mention that the plug wires were replaced. The fuel filter was changed at around 50k. And dont forget to change your wipers. The Goodyears at Costco seem to be a lot better than the ones 3 times the price.

    • Extractor says:

      Tune up = replace spark plugs. My Iridium plugs last well over 100k miles. Once my car was repaired due to a massive wreck and the dealer told me that it looks goods buts runs horribly. Told him that the onboard computer on the 2000 SS would tune itself. 10 minutes after I left from the dealership, the dash lights all flashed and the car began to run perfectly. Wonder if they were trying to sell me a “tune-up”. On that car it took 4 people to change the plugs. I got one side of 4, another got 2, and each of the others 1. Thats the cost of the tune-up. K&N air filter good for 1,000,000 miles as long as you clean it often. Synthetic oil every 3400 (1/2 million mile warranty at that interval using Castrol Syntec). Should be more realistic and be extended to at least 7500. Everyone can get 300,000 wit Valvoline Synthetic and Mobile One just guarantees it for 15k. PS Castrol warrants the entire drivetrain for 1/2 million, $100 option when car was ordered. Currently at 140,000 and still over 400 hp. And with a convertible I’m not parking under trees.

  8. PanCake BuTT says:


    Park In The Shade And Save Gas….& get your whip covered in bird dung ! (Corrosive stuff)
    ~!~ (sleepy)

    • tbax929 says:

      You don’t necessarily have to be under trees to have shade. I am fortunate enough to have a covered spot at work and a garage at home. The only time my car is in the hot Arizona sun is when I’m at a restaurant or shopping center.

      I thank God for auto-start and sun shades. Otherwise, my dark, leather interior would be unbearable in the summer.

  9. gomichaelkgo says:

    So those people who park on their lawns are just being smart?

    • Extractor says:

      Not if its long and dry. Catalytic converters are known to start grass fires due to their extremely high temperatures.

  10. JasonR says:

    FUD – at least in part.

    Seriously, Consumerist… check the source and question “facts” that lack citation.

    The “Don’t top off” tip was the funniest. “Any additional gas is just going to slop around or seep out.” The actual argument against topping off is generally a concern over spilling fuel and the environmental damage it does, not to mention that you can’t use fuel you spill on the ground. But anyone who tops off their tank can tell you the extra fuel fits fine and doesn’t spill unless you’re careless. The “slop around” factor is a figment of the author’s imagination.

    Thanks for a Monday laugh. Needed that!

    • JasonR says:

      Snopes perspective on some of this:

    • proscriptus says:

      Overfill, in fact, goes into the same evaporative canister as the fumes, and is likewise reintroduced into the fuel system. Sorry, Ben, Bankrate, but this is a total canard.

      • MrEvil says:

        Flooding the evap canister with raw gasoline is actually harmful to that system. It can lead to malfunctions and your car failing emissions tests (if your area has emissions testing). That’s the one reason you shouldn’t go past the nozzle’s auto-cut-off. Older cars without the vapor recovery system (or Diesels) are fine to fill to the brim as long as the cap has a good seal. I fill my F250 to the brim all the time with Diesel fuel. (Austin has alot fewer Diesel dispensers in town than Amarillo).

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Applying physics: the more fuel in the tank, the more mass your car has total. The more mass, the more work is required to shuttle around.

      If the goal is ultimate fuel efficiency, you fill up only just enough to get to the next gas station. :D

      (Also a handy tip for those with a weak bladder.)

  11. BettyCrocker says:

    If gas were evaporating, wouldn’t that be an explosion hazard?

  12. balthisar says:

    Ex automobile fuel tank engineer: the short answer is that gasoline doesn’t evaporate out of the tank. That’s just stupid.

  13. ShruggingGalt says:

    Wait, wasn’t there an article on this site not too long ago that mentioned that oil changes every 3k miles was full of you-know-what? (follow your manufacturers recommendations. Heck the modern cars will even tell you when to change the oil based on usage, not mileage)

    And this article mentions that????? Sheesh.

  14. Fallom says:

    Gas slopping around and seeping out? Evaporation?

    This is advice for a Model T, not a car made in the last 30 years. The amount of gas evaporating through the various fittings is negligible.

  15. Steve H. says:

    Hmmm… In the original article, they mention that you should change your oil every 3 months/3,000 miles according to the Car Care Council. The manual in my car suggests every 6 months/5,000 miles, which is also what the CarTalk guys suggest.

    I’m thinking the original author did not do due diligence on their claims. And by virtue of posting this, that claim extends to the Consumerist as well.

  16. oldtaku says:

    Who wrote this Bankrate article, someone who thinks there are little hamster wheels under the hood? This sure isn’t how a normal car works.

  17. Jimmy60 says:

    They recommend a digital tire gauge. I recommend that you don’t bother with digital tire gauges. They are fragile and expensive. A regular old pencil type is fine.

    If you want a really good tire gauge go to a local race shop. For about $30 you can get a gauge that has a nice big dial on a hose with a relief valve. You pump up the tire, put the gauge on then release the pressure down to what you want. Very accurate and easy. Oddly these can be hard to find anywhere but race shops. They will be in different ranges. You want one where your pressures are about halfway through the gauge’s range.

    Slowing down and proper tire pressure are the two best ways to save fuel.

    • Extractor says:

      I use several different digital guages as well as the guage on my compressors hose, but I think I’ll check out those racing shops. I set all my tires to 32psi and check weekly. I just rad that Mike Waltrip recommends 35psi. Does anyone know how that feels? If rain wasnt predicted here I may have tried it today. PS If you have nitrogen used in your tires, which is a waste, what do you use when the temperature drops and you need to add air. Only advantage of nitrogen is the molecular size being larger resulting in reduced gas volume; there is no savings with nitrogen. I would like to try Hydrogen and see those tires really light up.

      • econobiker says:

        Nitrogen probably seeps out slower plus it allows tire shops to post a profitable up-charge.

        I want helium in my tires to reduce the weight of the car…

  18. minjche says:

    I hear there’s this handy new thing called condensation, where things that go from liquid to vapor can turn from vapor back to liquid.

    It’s highly experimental, and only the top-of-the-line cars have it so far.

    Seriously what a horrible article, Ben.

  19. BuddhaLite says:

    This is almost as good as Obama saying that everyone should get a tune up and add air to their tires to save gas.

  20. sirwired says:

    WTF? There is this part of your car called the “Evaporative Emissions System.” It has been mandatory in US autos for decades. It captures ALL gas vapors from the tank when the car is just sitting there by keeping the fuel tank slightly pressurized. (It is what causes your “Check Engine” light to turn on when the gas cap is loose.) The vapors are captured by a charcoal canister that releases the vapors into the intake manifold where they are burned when you start driving again.

    This may have been needed advice decades ago, but it no longer applies.

  21. 6T9 says:

    My 1970 GMC “evaporates” one gallon of fuel every 8.5 miles. Not to mention the one quart of oil every 100 miles. Guess I need to start parking in the shade.

  22. ovalseven says:

    I’m lost. Liquid isn’t lost to evaporation if it’s in sealed environment such as a gas tank. The article even says that a tight-fitting gas cap will prevent evaporation.

    I really don’t understand how a windshield shade would save gas either.

    That said, thanks for the timely advice ;). It was 26° F here this morning.

  23. the_didgers says:

    If your car has fuel injection, clean air filters DOES NOTHING FOR FUEL ECONOMY!

  24. sopmodm14 says:

    aren’t the fuel reservoirs sealed to prevent excess air to get into it ? its also located inside the vehicle and shouldn’t be sensitive to temperature changes, otherwise, couldn’t they spontaneously combust during high temp and jostling ?

    wouldn’t there be different mpg’s for southern states ?

  25. ben_marko says:

    Not so sure about the science behind the park in the shade claim. I live in Joshua Tree, CA and work in 29 Palms, CA. Pretty hot, summer temps in 29 Palms can reach 110° F. I drive a 2003 Nissan Frontier 2WD pickup, and have NEVER noticed a noticeable drop in gas levels after parking in the sun (which is all I can do). Like to know more about their sources for that one!

  26. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Umm…if you think gasoline evaporates in the tank, think again. The tank is sealed by a big rubber O-ring at the cap and once the air in the tank becomes saturated no more will evaporate. You’d have better luck hooking up a magnet to your fuel line…or playing the lottery.

  27. Slave For Turtles says:

    The title is wrong, especially if you have leather seats. It should read, “Park in the Shade and Save Ass.” I’m thinking of all the shrieks and sizzling noises as bum meets fry-pan hot seat.

  28. econobiker says:

    Just in time for the fall. Where was this when it was 100° + outside?

  29. physics2010 says:

    Barely on subject, but I had to laugh when I saw that the new Eclipse will only come up with a black painted roof.

  30. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Terrible article. It calls the defroster a gas guzzler, but it uses waste heat from the engine. The fan doesn’t use much. Now idling the car for 20 minutes to thaw it does have impact.

    Modern cars have gas caps that are required to keep the evaporating gas in the tank. This article would apply to my 1974 BMW though. Can we at least get articles that don’t recycle 30 year old data?

  31. BewareofZealots says:

    Your fuel system should be vapor tight. Not a good suggestion. Like a previous poster mentioned, will make AC more effective.

    Newer model vehicles are coming out without gas caps.

    The tips I hate are the stupid ones about, “don’t fill up when the station is getting a delivery” (Fuel filters) or the “fill up in the morning”. Most fuel tanks are below ground. Daytime temperatures there don’t vary that much between day and night.

  32. dg says:

    Of course your car is cooler, but being parked under a tree you now have sap, and bird shit all over the paint wrecking the finish… So you have to take the car out to get cleaned and re-clear coated, which releases all kinds of VOC’s into the atmosphere… Don’t forget the dents from the acorns falling on the car, or the occasional cracked windshield because a squirrel or opossum snapped a branch off…