With gas prices hitting an all time February high and the current national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline hanging at $3.65, many drivers are anxious about what to expect in the coming months.
“Every driver is impacted by the increased cost of fuel,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA National Vice President, Automotive, Financial Services and e-Business. “There are several easy things drivers can do to stretch each tank of gas and find the lowest fuel prices when it is time to fill up.”
AAA provides these fuel-saving tips and advice to consumers:
Properly inflate tires
Only 17 percent of cars have all four tires properly inflated, yet the U.S. Department of Energy reports that proper tire inflation can improve fuel economy by up to three percent. It’s important not only to check tire pressures at least once a month, but also make sure it’s done correctly; a survey found 85 percent of motorists don’t know how to properly check tire pressures. Check the pressures when the tires are cold and have not been driven recently. Tires should be inflated to pressure levels recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, NOT the pressure levels stamped on the tire sidewall. The proper pressure levels can be found on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual.
Be gentle on the gas and brake pedals
One of the easiest and most effective ways to conserve fuel is to change driving styles. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, gently accelerate rather than making a quick start. The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can lower a car’s fuel economy by up to 33 percent.
Let AAA find lowest gas prices
Drivers equipped with the AAA TripTik Mobile iPhone application can find the lowest gas prices close to home or on the road. Using AAA TripTik Mobile, the first free app to offer frequently updated gas prices, motorists can compare fuel costs at stations near to their location or in a specified area. The AAA app’s GPS technology enables users to quickly locate stations on a map and see the price for all available grades of gasoline. Visit AAA.com/Mobile. AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner also provides gas station locations and fuel price information.
Drive the speed limit
Slowing down to observe the speed limit is safer and can conserve fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that each 5 mph driven over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach your destination to avoid feeling rushed so you can arrive safely and with a little more fuel in the tank.
Plan errands in advance
When running errands, try to combine multiple tasks into one trip. Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Also, plan the route in advance to drive the fewest miles. Online mapping tools are available to help plan routes, such as AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner which is available free to all motorists at AAA.com.
Lighten the Load
A heavier vehicle uses more fuel. Lighten your vehicle by cleaning out the trunk, cargo areas and passenger compartments. Also try to avoid using a car’s roof rack to transport luggage or other equipment—especially over long distances on the highway. A loaded roof rack affects the vehicle aerodynamics and creates extra drag that reduces fuel economy.
Stretch your gas money
Members who pay for gasoline with their AAA Member Rewards Visa® credit card receive double points on gas purchases. Members also receive one point for every dollar they spend, triple points on AAA and all travel purchases and double points on gas, grocery and drug store purchases. Members can redeem points for cash, travel or gift cards. The card may not be available in all areas. Members can apply for the AAA Member Rewards Visa® credit card at AAA.com/creditcard.
Keep up-to-date on vehicle maintenance
Keeping a car running properly helps achieve maximum fuel economy. Be sure to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and do not ignore vehicle warning lights that indicate something is wrong. Warning lights can signal problems that will greatly decrease a car’s fuel efficiency. To help motorists find reliable, high-quality vehicle service, AAA has inspected and approved nearly 8,000 auto repair shops across the country. To locate a nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair shop, visit AAA.com/repair.