Improve Your Gas Mileage: Tips for Increasing Fuel Economy

With the increasing rise in gas prices, many consumers are searching for ways to improve gas mileage. By implementing strategic planning, driving to conserve gasoline, and a little research, consumers can stretch their gas dollars farther, as well as improve the mileage per gallon they get on a very necessary expense.

Comparison Shop

The first step in getting more mileage from your gas is to research which place has the lowest price available. Although you can make a few phone calls to the local gas stations and compare prices, sites such as GasBuddy.com and GasPriceWatch.com have already done the leg work for you. Both sites allow consumers to enter their zip codes and check the local gas market. Be forewarned, not all cities have people reporting in, so your city might not be available. Another option is to employ a search engine such as Google or Yahoo with a keyword search of “gas prices” + your ZIP code. If all else fails, you can use a price book to track the local gas station prices and make your own comparisons.

Bear in mind while comparing gas prices that some stores who issue their own brand credit card may charge you slightly more for the privilege of using their card. Conversely, if you can find a national credit card that offers cash back on gas purchases, you can increase your gas savings by a few cents per gallon. Just remember if using this strategy, to make your payments on time, and pay the full amount due on the card, otherwise your saving will be lessened by late payment fees and interest.

Another option in lowering your gas expense is to consider joining a warehouse club such as Sam’s or Costco. In general their prices are the lowest anyway, and membership does reduce the amount you pay per gallon. Additionally, most Wal-Marts sell gift cards you can use at the pump that gives you an average of three cents a gallon discount, and these gift cards are accepted at most Sam’s locations, which further increases the gas discount you get at the pump.

Finally, when purchasing gas, consider buying the lowest octane gas available, which also tends to be the lease costly. As long as your engine runs quietly with no knocks or pings, you should be safe using the regular rather than premium gas. Remember if you change over, however, to keep an ear to how the engine is running, and if you notice a change, you can always switch back to the premium gasoline.

Monitor Your Driving Habits

According to www.fueleconomy.gov, “as a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.” To assist you in maintaining a frugal speed, use your cruise control. Contrary to what you may have heard, cruise control does not require more gasoline going up and down hills, but actually maintains your automobile at a constant speed which also increases gas mileage. Avoid gunning the engine taking off from traffic lights, and as much as possible, come to a smooth and easy stop. Excessive idling will also lower your gas mileage, so if you expect to idle for more than a minute, turn your car off. Using your car’s overdrive gears will reduce your engine speed, and should lower your gas consumption.

Having your car serviced regularly will also increase your gas mileage. Be sure the air filter is checked and changed as needed, as well as having regular oil changes to ensure optimum performance. Low tires require your engine to produce more energy to propel your car, increasing gas consumption. Check that your tires are inflated to the correct pressure as specified by the manufacturer.

As reported by the U. S. Department of Energy, an extra 100 pounds in a vehicle could reduce miles per gallon by up to 2%. Consider cleaning out your car and removing golf clubs, tents, or any other heavy weight items you do not need on a daily basis.

Plan Ahead

Make note of the day of the week and time of day that you buy gas. According to mlive.com, “a day-to-day comparison showed the lowest average fuel costs fell on Sunday and Monday . . . the high average was Thursday.” Because many people travel on weekends, the demand for gas is higher, and therefore stations can afford to raise prices. For this reason, filling up earlier in the week is more economical. The time of day when you purchase gas can also affect the actual amount of gas you get. Because gas expands when heated, making your fueling stops in the cooler evening hours increases the gas you actually get. This is also true for buying in the early morning hours. CNN.com reports that around 10:00 A. M. EST, major oil producers adjust their gas prices, which are generally enacted around midmorning. By buying the night before or early in the morning, you miss these increases, as well as improving your gas mileage.

Be sure to plan ahead when running errands. Selecting a day of the week to do all errands and making a list will prevent you from forgetting tasks and causing you to have to make additional trips. Make weekly menus so that you can purchase all ingredients in one trip, rather than having to make several trips to the store for forgotten ingredients.

By making several small changes such as monitoring local gas prices, changing driving habits, and planning ahead, you should get the best gas mileage possible. These strategies will also go a long way toward easing the effect of gas prices on your pocketbook.

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