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How to Get More for Your Money at the Gas Pump
Gas prices have been spiraling out of control for months, and there is no end in sight. Increased gas prices do not just hit you when you fill up your tank though. Just think about it for a minute and you will realize how many other ways rising oil and gas prices will cost you. The price of airline travel and shipping services are likely to rise, as is the cost of many other goods as retailers are forced to pay more for delivery.
You may even see your property taxes increase as towns have to pay more to keep their police cars, fire engines, and garbage trucks on the road.
During times like these it is important to get as much bang for you buck at the gas pump as possible.
So how can you save money on gas?
While there is little you can do about the market price of a barrel of oil, there are ways to keep down your own personal costs at the gas pump. Here are some suggestions:
Don't pay extra for premium gas if you don't need it. Consult your owners manual and stick to the recommended octane. Most cars run just fine on regular unleaded gas and you will get no extra performance by using premium gas.
Shop around. Keep a watchful eye and you'll be surprised at how much prices can vary from one gas station to the next. I've seen differences of eight to ten cents per gallon between gas stations directly across the street from one another. Seems like a small difference but it adds up over time.
Schedule your errands to minimize drive time, or if possible walk.
Travel light. Keeping your car and backseat loaded down wastes fuel as it requires more energy to move a heavier car. Take only the essentials (a spare tire, first-aid kit, jumper cables, etc.) with you.
Slow down. The faster you drive the fewer the miles you will get per gallon.
Drive steady. Avoid quick stops and accelerations that waste fuel. Anticipate braking ahead of time and ease onto the gas pedal rather than flooring it.
Maintenance is key. Keeping your engine tuned and tires inflated can make a difference in your fuel consumption. Under-inflated tires create drag which causes the engine to use more energy to propel the car. Plus, it is unsafe to drive on tires that have too little or too air in them.
If you are in the market for a new car, consider models that are more fuel efficient.
Use the air conditioner judiciously. There are two schools of thought on this one. The first says you will burn less fuel with the windows down and the AC off. The second says that driving with the windows open creates drag, which wastes more fuel than would be used if the AC was on and the windows up.
So which one is true? Well...both of them really. The car will consume more fuel with the air conditioner on and the windows down, up to about 45-50 miles per hour. As you drive faster, the drag caused my the open windows will actually cause high fuel consumption.
So the rule of thumb is this: keep the AC off and the windows down when you are cruising around town and on city streets. Once you reach the highway or about 50 mph, roll up the windows and turn the on the AC.
Using these tips will help you save money on gas. While you may not notice a huge difference with each fill up, the savings will compound with each fresh tank.
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