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Creative Ways to Save on Gas

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The price of crude oil has risen almost exponentially due to investors’ nervousness about the recent uprisings in the Middle East — and we’re certainly feeling it at the gas pump. According to CNN, the price of gas has been rising for nearly two weeks straight and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report shows that, currently, an average gas price is around $3.558 for regular, $3.697 for mid, and $3.800 for premium with California leading with highest prices!

With gas prices increasing by almost 40 cents since January of 2011, it’s no surprise that most of us are looking for creative ways to cut down on fuel consumption. When driving around to find cheapest gas or car pooling is no longer an option, here are some creative short term and long term ideas to cut down on fuel consumption:

Get App-Happy

There are a number of online tools that can help you in your quest to save money. Here are a few of them:

Billshrink’s Gas Savings App: Billshrink’s Web app helps you plan refueling stops along your route. You tell the app about your car’s mileage, and enter your home/work addresses and it shows you a Google map of all the gas stations along with their prices.

Gas Buddy: Gas Buddy can help you find cheap gas prices in at least 243 cities based on user-submitted data. It also offers the chance to win free tank of fuel based on your participation, and offers an app for most major smartphones.

Bank Rate’s Gas Shopping Calculator: This calculator will show you whether driving a mile from one gas station to the next to save 3 or 4 cents on a gallon is really worth it!

Coast More

Constantly braking and accelerating is bad for your car and your wallet. Try not to drive too close to the cars in front of you so that you can move at a constant pace and coast, instead. Hard braking costs at least 50% of the energy needed to power your car. It can lower your overall efficiency by 33% on the highway and 5% on city streets.

In the same vein, consider skipping the drive-through at fast-food restaurants and getting a toll pass to reduce idling in line at highway toll booths. Idling for even ten minutes can waste 22 gallons a year, so try not to idle for more than 30 seconds. Did you know? It costs less gas to stop and restart your car than to idle.

Fill Up Your Tires

Sure, it costs a little more extra than regular air, but filling up your car’s tires with nitrogen keeps the car’s tire pressure regular, longer (nitrogen molecules are bigger than air molecules.)

Get your tires checked regularly, even when they don’t look flat. Why? If your tires aren’t fully inflated then your car is dragging more, burning more gas to move. Get an inexpensive digital pressure gauge to check the tires every month — even new tires can leak air! It is best to check the tires at nighttime, or whenever they’re cold.

Remember: under-inflated tires can reduce your efficiency by almost 3%, and cost you from $30 – $50 a year and will last 15% less than inflated tires.

Lose the Weight

It’s true — extra weight reduces your fuel economy. The heavier the car, the more energy it needs to move. Every extra 100 pounds that you remove from your car can increase your fuel economy by 2%. If you drive a SUV, you might have the option of removing unused seats. Other suggestions? Make sure your trunk isn’t filled to the brim with material, and remove your car’s passenger area of any extra-large items.

Don’t forget to survey the outside of your car as well, and remove obstructions that might impede its aerodynamic efficiency. For example: bug shields, rooftop carriers, bicycle/ski racks, wreaths, etc.

Keep Up with the Maintenance

Make sure the air and fuel filters are clean, spark plugs are in top shape, etc. If your air filter is clogged, then your engine must work harder — and it becomes less efficient. Replacing a clogged filter can improve your car’s gas mileage by 10 percent and save you 15 cents a gallon! You should change your car’s air filters every three months or 3,000 miles. The U.S. Department of Energy asserts that fixing a car that is out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve the gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing something like a faulty oxygen sensor can improve your mileage by 40 percent.

Don’t neglect the engine, either. If your spark plugs are worn, they can reduce the engine’s fuel efficiency by 30%.

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