Tired of high gas prices? Ten ways to save.
Properly inflated tires, driving slower, and emptying out the trunk among the best ways to avoid excessive trips to the pump.
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5. Make peace with the A/C.Skip to next paragraph
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Times – and cars – have changed, so dads can loosen their grip on the air-conditioning controls. "Today most modern vehicles' air conditioners don't put nearly as much drag on the engine as older models used to do," says Christie Hyde, a AAA spokesperson. In fact, driving with the windows down on the highway creates enough wind resistance to make a noticeable difference as the engine chugs to overcome the excess drag. In the city, however, you'll get better mileage by shutting off the A/C and letting in fresh air, but the difference will be slight, about an extra mile per gallon. Ultimately, "you have to weigh your comfort versus fuel economy," says Ms. Hyde.
6. Get to know your mechanic.
If money is tight, ignoring the "check engine" light won't protect the piggy bank. Routine maintenance ensures that your car will get maximum gas mileage and avert potential mechanical problems down the road. Among other repairs, realign your tires every couple years or after hitting a crater-sized pothole. Proper wheel alignment will help keep the gas gauge leaning toward "F."
7. Forget the drive-through.
When grabbing lunch on the go, save yourself from needless idling by parking, turning off the car, going inside the restaurant, and getting your order to go. If you can't live without the drive-through, turn your engine off while waiting in line. It is not safe, however, to cut off your engine when stopped at a red light.
8. Map it twice, drive there once.
Before shopping for a weekend barbecue or running everyday errands, think about the route before starting the car. The average American makes up to a dozen trips a day, says Ms. MacEachern. Planning out what you need and where to go will save you from backtracking or, worse, second and third trips. Better yet, ask yourself: Do I even need to take the car? And if the grocery store is just a mile down the road, get some exercise and walk.
9. Say no to premium gas.
Unless your car requires it, don't buy premium gas. It will not increase your gas mileage, only your bill. Additionally, the majority of additives promising to increase fuel economy don't make a noticeable difference, says Hyde from AAA.
10. Play the market.
No official rules exist dictating when gas stations raise or lower prices. But if fuel prices are trending up, most stations post new rates just before the weekend. When prices are heading down, stations often wait until after the weekend to drop prices. And some gas gurus will tell you to pump gasoline early in the morning. Because gas expands when it's hot, they figure, filling the tank in the midday heat will give you less fuel than you would receive in the morning when the gas has already cooled and contracted overnight. Most fuel-efficiency experts consider this idea to be more folk wisdom than fact and that the difference, if there is one, may be too small to notice. Even so, it may be worth a try.