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Saving Money In the World of Rising Fuel Costs

Updated on March 25, 2011

With gas prices creeping higher and higher with no signs of slowing, it is important how to get the most at the pump. Doing a little bit extra can save you a lot in the long run. If you have a large car, SUV, or truck you might want to consider getting something smaller. The lighter your vehicle the better the gas mileage. Whether or not a smaller vehicle is in the stars for you, there are things you can do to save money at the pump. Lower your fuel costs by avoiding driving, maintaining your car, and doing things to lower your fuel consumption.

Walk it or Bike it

In America, most cities aren't set up to walk or bike where you need to go, but if you can do it you save money. If the store is across the street walk there and bring back a shopping cart, then return the cart when you are done. It can save a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle and is pretty good for you too (after all, many of us pledged to be healthier way back in January!). It isn't till you have driven your car five miles that it becomes worth the fuel. Try to make shorter trips with your feet or your bike. Even buying a bike could be good for your wallet!

Keep It Maintained

Car maintenance is one of the best things you can do to save money at the gas pump. There are lots of different things that you can do to keep your car running best and saving you money in the process.

  • Maintain correct tire pressure. Your tires can make your engine work harder and therefore using more gas. If you keep your tires at the proper levels then you will find that you use less gas.

  • Get that oil changed. Dirty oil causes a sluggish engine. You should make sure you get an oil change every 3000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first (even if it means you are changing it every four or six weeks!).

  • Replace your air filters. It doesn't cost much to change an air filter and it is easy enough for you to do on your own (refer to your owners manual if need be). However, doing this simple and inexpensive chore can save you a lot in your fuel costs.

When to Fill Up

You should fill your car up when it is about 1/4 of a tank left. This isn't because it is better for your car, but it is because you are more likely to shop your area for the best price in gas. It saves you from the "fill up at the next station" panic. It is also a good idea to fill up at night. Gas is measured in volume. It expands in the heat, so at night you are getting a little bit more. Also, you should never try getting a little more in there after the gas pump says it's full. This often leads to gas being spilled out and wasted.

Keep It Light

Don't use your car to store extra weight. This includes bike racks, top racks, and other unnecessary items (we have 50 pounds of cracked corn in our trunk so that we can feed the ducks. I thought it would go faster then it is, and we would save money by storing it somewhere else!).

Change Your Route

Your car uses more gas for stopping and for going. To cut some expenses you can change your route to and from work or other frequent places that you go so that you aren't stopping and starting as much. Even if you add miles onto your trip, you can cut your fuel costs a lot.

Don't Run The Electronics Unless It Is a Must

The electronics in your car make your car work harder. This means that running the air conditioning, heat, radio, and lights all cost you in fuel. If you can live without it, then don't play it.

Turn the Car Off

It might seem to simple, but a lot of us leave the car running if we think it is only going to be a second. In the heat we are hoping the car stays cool, in the cold we want it to stay warm. But if you are going to be sitting for more then a minute then it is economical to turn the car off.

Drive Smooth

Don't accelerate or brake quickly. These cause the engine to work harder and costs you more in dollars and cents. It is also safer to drive smoother and to accelerate and brake slower.

Drive Slower

While we are all in a hurry and want to get there as quick as possible, going slower saves on your expenses. If you can, driving between 45-50 is best for your car's fuel use. However, even going five miles slower then normal on the high way or express way can save you a significant amount of money.

Avoid Premium Fuels and Additives

Fuel tends to come in multiple types, however it doesn't make most cars run better or use less gas. Unless you have a high performance car and were told to use premium fuels, stick with the cheapest kinds because they will all work the same in your car.

Additives are becoming more and more popular as well. Most gas and oil additives don't increase the mileage your car gets. They often promise things that are too good to be true, so it is best to avoid them.

Avoid Fuel Saving Gadgets

Much like additives, fuel saving gadgets are becoming the rage as well. Unless you know the science behind them and understand how or why you would save fuel using them, then you probably won't, but you will be spending money on them. Driving less, more efficiently, and maintaining your car are better fuel saving options.

Comments

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  • Joel McDonald profile image

    Joel McDonald 

    10 years ago from Denver, Colorado

    Great article! It compliments an article I just wrote on how to save a few hundred bucks a month in commuting expenses, so I added a link from that article to yours as well.

  • stephhicks68 profile image

    Stephanie Hicks 

    10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    Great tips! I like the filling up at night idea. Also - how many times have I waited until I absolutely had to fill up at the next tank!?

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