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20 Tips to Save Money on Gas

Small Changes Can Improve Efficiency by 30%
  -- By Stepfanie Romine, Business Writer
With the prices at the pumps rising every day (or so it seems), we're all wondering the same thing: How can we save money on gas? Is it even possible?

Yes, of course you can save money on gas. These tips won't bring down the cost of gas, but they will help you use less gas, which in turn will save you money. Following the tips below can improve the efficiency of your car by up to 30 percent, according to drivers who've adapted such tactics! A bonus is that many of these tips will also help you help the environment. Go green while saving some green!

1. Combine trips. If you know you're going across town for soccer practice, stop by any stores you might need to visit in that area. Try to group errands geographically.

2. Downsize. Unless you need an SUV, minivan or full-size truck, then trade it in for a more efficient model. Want to save even more money? Switch to a hybrid (the prices have dropped in the last few years) or learn to drive a motorcycle or scooter.

3. Reduce your commute. Move closer to work if possible, work from home a day or two a week, or get a job in your neighborhood.

4. Don't wait for a holiday. Gas prices rise whenever more people travel, such as around the holidays. Fill up at least three days before a holiday.

5. Fill up mid week, in the morning. Wednesday is the cheapest day of the week to fill your tank. The weekends are the most expensive. Gas stations change their prices midmorning, so head to the pumps before you go to the office.

6. Park it. Park once, in the first spot you see. Unless you can't walk, park as soon as you find a spot instead of driving around to find one that's close. Also, if you're going to make several stops in the area, leave your car parked and drop off packages between stops, if need be. You can squeeze in a bit of exercise while you shop!

7. Charge it! Get a gas credit card that offers you savings. If your card is specific to one company, make sure those gas stations are located in the areas where you typically drive. You won't save money if you drive across town to get gas! (Just be sure to pay off the card in full each month so you don't get hit with finance charges.)

8. Go low. Use the lowest recommended octane for your car. Check you’re the owner's manual for your car, but most cars on the road today can go with the lowest-octane (and cheapest) gasoline.

9. Wait to fill up. Always fill up when you've got a quarter of a tank or less. You get better gas mileage with a lighter load, so that means gas mileage improves as you near empty. However, don't let it get too low—you could end up stranded!

10. Don't top off. When filling up, use the automatic "stop" function on the pump. When it stops, don't pump out a few extra cents worth of gas by hand. That gas evaporates (talk about a waste of money) and is bad for the environment, too.

11. Quit idling! Idling wastes gas and pollutes the air. Whether you're in line at a drive-thru, waiting for school to let out, or stopped in a parking lot, turn off the car. Turn the ignition to "accessory" mode to keep the radio and AC on. Even better, park and walk inside instead of using a drive-thru.

12. Remember what you learned in driver's education class: Don't tailgate, maintain consistent speed, drive the speed limit, and anticipate stop signs. Changing speeds constantly reduces efficiency. Decide what's more important to you: Arriving a couple of minutes (or usually just a few seconds) earlier, or saving money.

13. Got junk in your trunk? Empty it. Any extra weight reduces fuel efficiency. Also, take off any bike or ski racks if you're not using them. They can cause drag, making your car work harder to maintain speed.

14. Take care of your car. Regular oil changes improve gas mileage. Be sure to regularly change air filters, keep your tires properly inflated, and use a fuel injector cleaner, too.

15. When you are ready to fill up, fill it up all the way! Gas is expensive today, and chances are it'll be even more costly tomorrow. If you fill the tank completely, you can go longer between fill-ups.

16. Know your route. Getting lost is a waste of time and money. Sometimes it can't be avoided, but plan your routes in advance or use a global positioning unit. Carry a map, and use it!

17. Be shady. Park in the shade. Gas can evaporate on a hot day, especially when you park in the sun. Also, parking in the shade keeps the inside cooler, meaning you have to use the air conditioning less.

18. Speaking of AC. Only use it on the highways. It's more efficient to roll down the windows when you're going 40 miles per hour or less. The air conditioning is a better choice when you're going faster.

19. Slow down. Obeying the speed limit is more efficient for your car—especially on the highway. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.30 per gallon for gas. Besides saving gas, driving the speed limit is also safer for you and your passengers.

20. Don't stop. Didn't we just mention safety? Yes. Always obey traffic laws and be watchful of the vehicles and pedestrians around you. However, if you can safely (and legally) slow down enough to avoid actually stopping (such as when a stop light is a long way ahead of you), then do it. It takes less gas to speed up than to start from a full stop.

Follow these tips, and soon you'll be saving some pennies (and eventually some nickels, dimes or even dollars)! If you think those of us in North America have it bad, think of our brethren in Europe: Gas tops $8 a gallon on much of the continent, including Norway, Britain, Belgium and Germany. Ouch!

For more information on saving gas and picking a fuel-efficient vehicle, check out www.FuelEconomy.gov, a website maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).