10 Tips to Spend Less at the Gas Pump

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Updated: March 13, 2014

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. is $3.50. That’s 20 cents higher than this time last month, but 20 cents lower than one year ago.

Fuel is a significant, yet necessary, expense for most of us. That’s why we’re sharing these 10 tips from the experts at the U.S. Department of Energy and AAA to help improve your gas mileage and vehicle performance.

MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLE
Keeping your vehicle in shape with routine preventive maintenance, including oil changes at the mileage interval recommended by your vehicle manufacturer, will help your vehicle last longer and run better. It could also improve gas mileage and save you money. Most manufacturers provide two service schedules, one for “normal” driving and one for “severe”. Most drivers mistakenly believe they meet the “normal” schedule.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s fuel economy website provides these valuable tips to improve gas mileage:

• Use the Correct Motor Oil. You can improve gas mileage by up to 2% by using the motor oil grade recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Your vehicle may also benefit from using a specially- formulated high mileage or synthetic motor oil.

• Maintain Proper Tire Pressure. Underinflated tires are unsafe and can reduce gas mileage. You can improve gas mileage by up to 3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Don’t use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall; use the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer (usually listed on a sticker on your driver’s side door jamb and/or in the owner’s manual).

• Replace a Clogged Air Filter. Replacing a clogged air filter in a vehicle with a fuel-injected, computer controlled gasoline engine won’t increase gas mileage but it could increase acceleration time by up to 11%. On older vehicles – primarily those built before the early 1980s – replacing a clogged air filter could improve gas mileage by up to 14%

• Keep Your Engine in Tune. If your vehicle is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test, a tune-up could improve gas mileage by up to 4%.

DRIVE EFFICIENTLY
The U.S. Department of Energy and Federal Trade Commission provided these handy driving tips to improve gas mileage:

• Observe the Speed Limit. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds over 60 mph. Each 5 mph over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon.

• Don’t Drive Aggressively. In addition to being unsafe, aggressive driving (including quick starts and stops) can reduce gas mileage by 5% in town and 33% on the highway.

• Avoid Excessive Idling. Sitting idle burns gasoline and gets zero miles per gallon.

• Lighten Your Load. An additional 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce gas mileage by up to 2%.

• Avoid Packing Items on Top of Your Car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can reduce gas mileage by up to 5%.

KEEP AN EYE ON GAS PRICES
Put technology to work for you, finding the lowest gas prices near you or a future destination.

Before you depart on a road trip, check out AAA’s TripTik, which enables you to map your route and view recent prices at gas stations along the way.

Looking for prices around town? Try GasBuddy.com, which provides a thorough listing of recent gas prices in your area.

On the road and need to fill up? There are more than 470,000 apps available for Android and iPhone. So, we appreciate that technology website Mashable. com took the time to research apps that promise to help drivers find the lowest gas prices. The website rated the GasBuddy app, which has versions for Android and iPhone, as the best.