By Market News Video Staff, Friday, September 21, 4:35 PM ET
As we go to press, filling up your vehicle’s tank is running around $3.85 per gallon. That pretty much puts a crimp in leisurely weekend driving. And it’s putting a crimp in solo driving -- according to a report this week by USA Today, the number of workers driving to work alone dropped from 2010 to 2011 and at the same time commutes on public transportation rose nationally. (New York, the country’s leader in mass transit use, had an almost 2% jump with about one-third of residents in that metro area using public transportation.)
Whether you’re in a car pool, driving the kids to soccer games or getting to work, there are tried and true ways to cut costs. Here are 12 of them.
Check the gauge. Be aware of the amount of gas in your tank. When it's half full, begin looking for a station. This gives you time to comparison shop.
Gas Buddy also has a free app that uses your device’s GPS to locate the nearest gas stations (US and Canada only) and shows what users are reporting as current prices. Click on a station you’ll get Google map directions from your present location. Formats: Apple, Android, BlackBerry.
Don’t be octane crazy. An estimated 40 million drivers buy a high octane, high cost fuel that’s not really necessary. Read your owner’s manual to see what grade your model requires. Keep in mind, however, that if the engine knocks or rattles, it probably needs a higher octane fuel.
Note: Octane doesn’t determine the quality of gas but rather how difficult it is to ignite. Regular (about 87 octane) is the cheapest while premium (91 to 93 octane) is always the most expensive.
Forget idling. If you’re going to be at a standstill for more than a minute, turn off the engine. Idling not only consumes ½ to 1 gallon of gas per hour, it also wastes more gas than restarting the engine.
Get a tune-up. Before any long distance trip, check the oil, transmission and spark plugs. And, change the air filters at least twice a year.
Note: According to the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency you can boost your gas mileage by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. Motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.
Kick your tires. For every 3 pounds your tires are below their recommended pressure, your fuel economy drops by about 1%. That’s because under-inflated tires require more energy (thus more gas) to turn.
$TIP: The correct pressure is given in the owner’s manual
or on a piece of paper on the driver’s doorjamb. Do not use the pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall. That merely states how
much the tire will safely hold and is unrelated to routine use.
And, do your check after the car has been standing overnight.
You’ll get an accurate reading when the tires are cold.
Roll down the windows. If you’re doing short trips around town, turn off the AC and open the windows. AC is a great guzzler of fuel. And, always carry a sunshade for your windshield. Get it out on hot days when you’re forced to park in the sun.
Map your route in advance. This will keep to a minimum the number of times you have to drive around asking for directions. Avoid driving in morning and evening rush hours if at all possible. You’ll minimize both gas consumption and temper tantrums!
Pick you model. If you have a choice when renting a car, go with the model that gets the best mileage. Although the list changes periodically, Honda (NYSE:HMC), Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Hyundai (KRW) models are generally at the top along with Nissan’s Sentra (NSANY). The gas guzzling champ is usually a Ferrari.
$TIP: To compare the latest fuel economy stats among new and used cars and trucks, go to: www.fueleconomy.gov.
And for reviews of these models: www.edmunds.com.
Use cruise control. Not only will you cut down on gas consumption, you’ll get fewer speeding tickets.
Pick you road. Try to avoid two-lane roads where you’ll encounter a long string of stoplights.
Slow down. The faster you drive, the more gas you use. If you drive 70 mph instead of 55, you will lose 17% of your car’s fuel economy.
Rule of thumb: According to www.FuelEconomy.gov, each 5 mph you drive over 60 is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.
Pay cash. You’ll find that the independents sometimes offer cheaper gas for cash – that way they avoid paying a credit card company’s fee.
When using a credit card, make sure it’s one that offers cash back on gasoline purchases. Some offer 2% to 5% rebates, but read the fine print to know about fees and various charges.
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