We have all seen the price of gasoline shooting up to record levels around the country with no relief in sight. In some states it has already reached, and passed, record levels. Reports of gas thefts from parked cars and fill and flies (people going to a gas station, filling up and driving off without paying) are increasing everyday.
What can we, as consumers, do about it? Unfortunately, there is not too much we can do. We either pay or walk. But there is one thing we can do, and that is to squeeze every mile we can out of every gallon of gas we buy. There are a number of things we can do to keep our vehicles running in top shape and get the best mileage we can. Other ways are by changing the way we drive.
• Tire Pressures
One thing we can do to stretch our gallon of gas is to check our tire pressures.
• Keep Your Engine Tuned
Keeping your engine well tuned is another good way to stretch your gas dollar. An engine that grinds for ten seconds before firing up wastes enough gas to take you two miles. Maybe it's time for a new set of spark plugs and a new air filter. Now is a good time to go get them. Also have a mechanic bump the timing a degree or two if possible.
• Clean Out Your Trunk
Look in the trunk of your car. Are those two bags of sand that you used for extra traction last winter still in there? Take them out! It's excess weight in the summer and excess weight uses gas. What ever you don't need in there, take it out and lighten the load. It will come back as extra miles per tank full.
• Think About The Vehicle You Use
If you are a two car family, use the cars wisely. If one has to drive further to work, let that person use the car that gets the best mileage. On weekends switch around depending on who's running the errands. Do you really need to drive that big gas sucking SUV? They are all right if you need to move the kids' soccer team, but driving it to work is a waste. Consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle for commuting.
• Shop For Price
If you see three or four gas stations on a corner, check all the prices. They will be competing for your business and will generally have the lowest prices. Don't drive across town just to save one or two cents a gallon. You'll wind up using more gas than you save. Unless you can save eight to ten cents a gallon, it's just not worth it. Keep an eye on prices as you drive around and if you see a lower price, take advantage of it.
• Make Sure You Use The Correct Fuel
If your car uses regular gas don't waste money on buying premium, if you don't have to. You won't get any better mileage or performance and you'll just waste that extra ten or fifteen cents a gallon. Check your owner's manual to see if your engine does need premium.
• Take Time Of Day Into Consideration
If possible, stagger your work hours to avoid rush hour traffic. Sitting in stop and go traffic is the biggest waste of fuel there is. Try leaving home for work a little earlier. You'll avoid some traffic and impress your boss.
• Cut Down On The Use Of The Air Conditioning
A/C takes about 8 horsepower to run and those horses eat gas. Our forefathers crossed a whole country without A/C, I think we can cross town without it. On a long trip on the open highway, it is better to use the A/C than to drive with the windows open. The extra drag of open windows on a vehicle can eat up more fuel than the A/C will.
• Avoid Jackrabbit Starts
Start off smooth and accelerate easy to your cruising speed and maintain it. Use your cruise control if you have it to maintain a steady speed. Slow down a bit when you drive, the faster you go, the more fuel you use. When you go somewhere, leave 10 or 15 minutes earlier so you can go easy and save some fuel. Who knows, you might even notice things you never saw before when you were passing by at the higher speed.
• Reduce Trips To The Store
Partners can save gas by shopping at a big grocery warehouse such as a Sam's Club once a month or so. You can stock up on non-perishable and frozen items and pick up milk, bread or other small items on the way home from work. Not only will you save money on gas, but also your grocery bills will be lower.
• Consolidate Your Errands
Plan out what you have to do and go from one to the other in the shortest distance. This is a case where putting something off until tomorrow can be a good thing if it will save you distance and time. Avoid the drive thru when you go to the bank, park your car and go inside instead of wasting gas standing in line. Do the same when you go to Burger King and McDonalds.
I can say whatever you do to save gas is good for the country, and don't get me wrong, it is. But the bottom line is this; it's money in your pocket. It's money you save. It's money you can spend. If you can get an extra 3 miles per gallon, and the average car has a 15-gallon gas tank, which translates to 45 miles per tank full. If you fill up your tank once a week, that's 2,340 miles per year. That's an average of 117 gallons of fuel at $2.00 a gallon equaling $234.00. If you follow the suggestions I have outlined above, you'll get five, six, even seven extra miles per gallon.