Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 3, 2011

Relieve pain at pump: 8 ways to save on gas

What you should know before fueling up

Gillian Nicol
CNHI News Service

Birmingham, AL — Gas prices are up almost $1 over this time last year, and drivers across the country are feeling the pinch on their pocketbooks. According to AAA, the current national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $3.71, up from $2.76 a year ago.

In the last few days, gas prices have essentially leveled off, aligning with crude oil pricing, according Avery Ash, manager of of regulatory affairs at AAA National. Still, drivers hoping to hit the road before summer ends are likely to pay more than they did last year. Motorists can relieve some of the pain at the pump by taking a few small steps that really add up, Ash said.

There’s an app for that. For the technologically savvy, the GasBuddy.com app for your iPhone locates gas stations with the lowest prices near your current location. Never overpay for gas again. Plus, the app can be downloaded for free. AAA has also launched a TripTik app that is linked to 100,000 gas stations enabling, gas buyers to be “savvy station shoppers,” Ash said. 

Get your motor running. Keeping your car in good shape will not only allow it to run smoothly and efficiently, but it will help keep you from burning through expensive fuel. Simple tasks such as routinely filling up the air in your tires or receiving frequent oil changes will also improve your gas mileage. 

Pedal to the metal. Driving at a consistent speed or utilizing cruise control can really help with lowering your gas consumption. However, if you’re not spending a majority of your time on the highway, anticipating red lights will help you avoid hard breaking and fast acceleration, which will be easier on your gas tank than starting up from a fully stopped position. 

“We encourage our members to drive the speed limit as well as avoid jackrabbit stops,” said Ash.

Road trip. If you’re planning a long-distance road trip and are not quite sure how much money you will need to set aside for gas, the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator may come in handy. The results are based upon your starting location and destination as well as the make, model and year of your vehicle. Visit fuelcostcalculator.aaa.com to try it out.  And think twice before choosing to take your larger vehicle on vacation.

“We recommend that if you’re choosing between driving the SUV and the sedan, you drive the more fuel-efficient model,” Ash said. 

Keep your cool. Although somewhat impossible in the summer heat, if you avoid blasting the A/C in your car, you can keep from unnecessarily losing approximately 8 percent of your gas. When it’s not so steamy out, rolling down the windows and saving the air conditioner for highway travel only can be beneficial to your wallet. 

Charge it. Many credit card companies offer cash back on certain services throughout specific months. Be sure that you are signed up for these bonuses and make note of when you can receive these benefits on your gasoline purchases. 

Less is more. Avoid topping off, as excess gas only ends up evaporating or sloshing out of the tank. Also, make sure your gas cap is secure for the same reason; newer car models have airtight fuel systems, but the seals on gas caps on older vehicles should be checked. 

Plan ahead. Perhaps the easiest tip to follow is to plan your driving excursions ahead of time. Make sure you consolidate multiple shopping trips into one, rather than breaking them up into different trips throughout the day. Many people may find that carpooling to work or school may also be a feasible and money-friendly option.