Easy Ways to Save Money on Gas

With prices soaring, what driver couldn’t use a few tips on pinching pennies at the pump?

By Reader's Digest Editors

With prices soaring, what driver couldn’t use a few tips on pinching pennies at the pump?

Fill up when your tank is 3/4 empty. According to wikihow.com, this saves you money because you’re hauling a lighter load—and gives you ample time to take advantage of a bargain if you spot one. But don’t wait until you’re running on fumes to gas up, as this can damage the electric fuel pump.

Buy gas early in the morning. That’s when the ground where gas tanks are stored is cool, maintains e-how.com. The cooler the ground temperature, the more dense the gas, meaning you’ll get what you pay for. (When the mercury soars, gas expands and what is measured as a gallon at the pump is actually slightly less.)

And try to hit the pump midweek. Gas prices will sometimes rise on Thursday, as demand by weekend drivers increases, writes Vera Gibbons at walletpop.com. Your best shot at finding the lowest prices is usually at midday on Tuesday or on Wednesday morning.

Choose the right octane level. Check your owner’s manual, but unless you have a high-performance car, you should stick with regular octane gas. As the Federal Trade Commission points out, filling up with high-octane products generally won’t increase anything but your bill at the pump.

Keep your tires maintained. Ensuring they are properly inflated and aligned can increase gas mileage up to 3 percent, claims the FTC.

Don’t drive aggressively. Department of Energy statistics cited at walletpop.com show that for each mile you drive at over 60 miles per hour, you are essentially paying an additional ten cents per gallon. And erratic acceleration and braking can waste an additional 50 cents a gallon. Slow and steady wins this race.

Park in the shade. Believe it or not, says wikihow.com, gasoline evaporates out of your tank, and it does so more quickly when you’re parked in direct sunlight, no matter the season. And in the summer, parking in the shade means you’ll need less A/C to cool things off when you return to your car. So pull into a shady space, and to further minimize evaporation, make sure the seal on your tank is tight.

Use A/C only on the highway. Air conditioning can burn roughly 8% of your fuel. So when driving at lower speeds, open the windows instead, advises wikihow.com. While doing so increases drag, the resulting loss in fuel efficiency won’t be as great as if you had the A/C cranked. Better yet, open the vents.

Sources: wikihow.com, ehow.com, ftc.gov, walletpop.com

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