While the days of $4 per gallon gasoline have faded into the sunset -- at least for now -- the amount of money we pour into our tanks still makes many a driver flinch and is no small consideration when it comes to planning a driving trip.
Gasoline prices across the nation dropped to an average $1.81 per gallon in the first week of December 2008 -- $1.25 per gallon less than the same month in 2007.
How long prices will remain at that
level and whether they will rise or fall further
is anyone's guess, but saving money at the pumps
is always a good idea -- no matter what the price
of gasoline is.
These 15 tips will help you cut
1. 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
2. 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
3. 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
4. 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.
5. Pay cash at stations that charge
extra for credit cards.
6. Don't top off the gas tank. Too
much gas will just slosh or seep out. Why waste
those extra pennies?
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Combine errands into one trip
and plan your stops for the most efficient route.
You'll save yourself time and money.
11. 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
12. 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 a way to escape.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. Remove snow tires in good weather.
Deep tread and big tires use more fuel.