Gas prices have been on a steady climb since the start of the year, and some drivers are already facing $4 or more per gallon.
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While drivers can’t control the fluctuations in the price at the pump, they can take steps to manage how often they have to fill up and how much they pay.
“How you save at the pump is you shop around,” says Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at gas-price tracker GasBuddy.com. “You can also save by signing up for a gas credit card and driving smarter.”
The price per gallon of gas can differ at stations located right next to each other, so drivers should always shop around to find the lowest price. There are many apps and websites to make comparing prices easy and help blunt the pain.
Become a Smarter Driver
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Experts agree that one of the best ways to conserve gas is to change r driving habits. According to the Department of Energy, gas mileage typically decreases when cars are going more than 50 mph. What’s more, the agency says for every 5mph over 50mpg, it will cost an additional 26 cents per gallon for gas.
Driving aggressively will also reduce pain at the pump. Rapid acceleration and braking and speeding can lower gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and 5% around town, according to the Energy Department.
DeHaan says drivers should coast to a red light instead of speeding up and then braking, and should strive to drive slightly slower than the speed limit to conserve gas. “Te biggest way to save is to drive more defensively, but it’s so hard to do.”
Turn Off the Car
Idling is another gas hog. There’s a misconception that more gas is wasted turning off a car and restarting than idling during short-term stops like at a railroad crossing or sitting in traffic--but that’s wrong.
According to the DOE’s website, “idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) us. It only takes a few seconds worth of fuel to restart your vehicle.”
Indeed, DeHaan at GasBuddy.com says he shuts his car off if it’s idling for more than 30 seconds and is able to save a lot of gas as a result. “It’s one of the smartest things you can do,” he says.
Lose the Pounds
Excess cargo can weigh a vehicle down and thus require more gas to run, so it might be time to unload kids’ soccer gear or the 30-pounds of dog food sitting in the trunk. The DOE says drivers can save 4 cents to 8 cents a gallon simply by getting rid of excess weight.
Run Errands Efficiently
Running errands is not only a time eater, but also a big gas consumer. Planning the most efficient errand list can help reduce the amount of fueled consumed.
According to the Department of Energy, several short trips can use twice as much fuel as one long trip that covers the same distance because a vehicle’s engine is already warmed up.