Yup – gas prices are on the rise again with experts predicting even more increases as the year goes on. Not everyone can trade in their car right now for some more fuel efficient. And the common suggestions – car pool, use mass transit or walk everywhere – isn’t possible for many of us. But there are some ways to get better mileage out of the vehicle you’ve got.
First is getting a tune-up or some DIY maintenance. Dirty air filters, misaligned tires or low tire pressure can all decrease gas efficiency by as much as 10%! And check your gas cap. An open or missing one allows gas fumes to be released reducing fuel economy.
Driving habits can help, too. Each 5 mph speed reduction can increase your miles per gallon by 7%. Avoiding idling, riding the breaks and jerky driving (think smooth…) will get you more miles as well. If you have to idle, shift to neutral or consider turning the car off if you’re going to be stuck for more than 20 seconds. Use cruise control if you have it when driving long stretches.
Air conditioning eats up gas, but so does keeping windows open (creates a drag). It’s recommended that you save the air conditioning for higher speeds and keep windows open at lower ones. Another recommendation is to use the car’s ventilation system instead. And speaking of drag, if you’re using your trunk to store heavy stuff, take it out as a lighter car is more efficient than a heavier one.
You can also look for the best prices in your area by checking sites like GasBuddy.com or GasPriceWatch.com. I also like GasPrices.Mapquest.com since I can see all the gas stations within a few miles in different zip codes all at once. Mapquest also provides the phone number so you can call to double check the price beforehand. If you have an iPhone get the Cheap-Gas app which will guide you to the cheapest gas on your route.
Some other tips:
- Pay cash if you can. The price on the pump is for cash but if you use a credit card, most gas stations add a few cents more per gallon.
- If you do use a credit card, check to see if you get points for buying gas. At least you’ll get a little of the few cents back.
- Check out sites that re-sell unused gift cards like Plastic Jungle or Gift Card Granny. You might be able to get some good deals on gas cards.
- Several grocery store chains “reward” shoppers with gas discounts if you use your loyalty card.
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