Tuesday, May 8, 2007

15 ways to save money on gas

Some good tips on Bankrate.com for saving gas:

Gasoline prices across the nation topped out at an average of $3 a gallon as
April ended. That's the news from the Energy Information Agency, which tracks
fuel costs across the country. The last time most motorists saw prices over $3
at the pump was August 2006.
These gasoline prices send many of us into panicked flashbacks of the fuel crunches in the summer of 1980 and the mid-1970s. Thankfully, we learned a few good habits back then. Many Americans traded in their eight-cylinder gas-guzzlers for pipsqueak cars with small engines and better mileage.

Then came the boom of the late '90s, and, oh, how quickly we forgot. Though
most of us still pump our own gas, we've fallen into bad habits again. We've
embraced the gas-guzzling SUV and dawdle, idling, in drive-through lines.
But you can hold down the number of times you have to stand at the gas pump, aghast, watching the numbers spin. These 15 tips will help you cut fuel consumption:
Car maintenance
- Keep the tires inflated properly. This one is simple and a potential lifesaver. Underinflated tires waste fuel and wear out the tire tread. Also, check tires regularly for alignment and balance.
- A well-tuned engine burns less gas. Get regular tuneups and follow through with routine maintenance. The right parts and fresh oil keep your engine happy and less thirsty for gas.
- Get the junk out of the trunk. A weighed-down car uses more fuel. For every extra 250 pounds your engine hauls, the car loses about one mile per gallon in fuel economy. Carry only the basic emergency equipment and items you really need.
Gas shopping
- Buy the lowest grade (octane) of gasoline that is appropriate for your car. Check your owner's manual for this information. As long as your engine doesn't knock or ping, the fuel you're using is fine. You can save hundreds of dollars a year.
- Pay cash at stations that charge extra for credit cards.
- Don't top off the gas tank. Too much gas will just slosh or seep out. Why waste those extra pennies?
- Drive intelligently; don't make fast starts or sudden stops. You're just overexerting
your engine and burning extra fuel. Gradual acceleration also helps automatic
transmissions run better. Engine-revving wastes fuel, too.
- Lighten up on the accelerator. The faster you drive, the more gas you use. Speed limits have gone up around most of the nation, but you don't have to see your fuel
consumption go up drastically as well. For example, driving at 55 mph rather
than 65 mph can improve your fuel economy by two miles per gallon.
- Avoid long warm-ups. Even on cold winter mornings, your car doesn't need more than a minute to get ready to go. Anything more and you're just burning up that
expensive fuel.
- Combine errands into one trip and plan your stops for the most efficient route. You'll save yourself time and money.
- Do not rest your left foot on the brake. The slightest pressure could cause a drag that will demand additional gas use -- and wear out the brakes sooner.
Other good habits
- Tighten up that gas cap. Make sure it's on securely. Buy a new one if your current cap doesn't fit snugly. Gas easily evaporates from the tank if it has an escape.
- Buy a fuel-efficient car. When pricing cars, factor in long-term fuel costs. Keep in mind that sunroofs add to wind resistance, lowering the mileage per gallon.
- Be smart with the air conditioning. On the highway, closed windows decrease air resistance, so run the air conditioner. But in stop-and-go traffic, shutting off the air conditioning and opening the windows can lighten your fuel use. Air conditioning can lower your fuel economy by 10 percent to 20 percent.
- Remove snow tires in good weather. Deep tread and big tires use more fuel.

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