How can you shave your gas bill in 2006? Here are a few suggestions.
While gas prices have dropped from the insane highs of mid-2005, it’ll still cost you more than $2 per gallon to fill up at the pump. What can you do to lower your gas bill each month? Here are 12 things you can do this year to save on gas – perhaps you can try adding one new thing each month to your regular driving routine — courtesy of the Consumer Federation of America (www.CFA.org).
Check your air filter. A clean air filter can improve mileage by up to 10 percent. That’s because if an engine doesn’t get enough air, it’ll burn too much gasoline. Nearly one in four cars needs a new air filter right now, and if consumers replaced their old and filthy air filters, the CFA estimates we’d save 2.8 billion gallons of gas each year. Consumers would save about 24 cents worth of each gallon of gas they use, or about a quarter of a tank.
Straighten out. Have your alignment checked. Poor alignment causes your tires to wear out faster, and your engine has to work harder, reducing fuel efficiency by 10 percent.
Tune up. Keeping your engine tuned can improve mileage by 4 percent, or the equivalent of 10 cents per gallon.
Pump up those tires. More than a quarter of cars have improperly inflated tires. The average under-inflation is 7.5 pounds, which causes a loss of 2.8 percent in fuel efficiency. That wastes 800 million gallons a year, and costs you 7 cents a gallon.
Check your gas cap. If it isn’t on correctly, gas will evaporate from your tank. Fixing your gas cap can save you 2 cents per gallon.
Lose weight. Take some of the weight out of your trunk. For every 100 pounds you carry, you’re losing 1 to 2 percent in fuel efficiency, or 4 cents per gallon.
Don’t speed. For every 5 mph you reduce your highway speed, you can reduce your fuel consumption by 7 percent. That’ll feel like you’re saving 17 cents per gallon.
Drive more smoothly. If you hit the gas and jam your foot on the breaks, you’ll waste a ton of gas. Smoothing out your acceleration and deceleration will increase your mileage as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in city driving conditions. You’ll feel like you’re saving 7 cents on every gallon of gas you use. The CFA says if 15 percent of us drove more smoothly, we’d save 3 billion gallons of gas.
Keep your foot off the break. It increases the drag and can cost you 7 cents per gallon. If you’re doing this and stop, it’ll feel like the cost of a gallon of gas went down by 85 cents.
Don’t idle your car. An idling car gets 0 miles per gallon. If you’re stopped and waiting more than 30 seconds, and you’re not in traffic, turn off the engine. Don’t “warm up” your engine since cars warm up faster when they’re driving. If you stop idling your car, you’ll save the equivalent of one cent per gallon.
Combine your trips around town. The average family takes 19 personal or shopping trips each week, and these trips average about 7 miles each. For the first mile or two, your car is cold. The CFA says that a cold car gets only 30 to 40 percent of the mileage it gets at peak efficiency. So, combine trips to keep running your car at peak efficiency. If you do, it’ll feel like you’re saving 8 cents per gallon.
Use regular gas. Unless your car manufacturer requires you to use high octane fuel, use regular unleaded. You’ll save 10 to 20 cents per gallon.
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is a non-profit association of almost 300 pro-consumer groups with a combined membership of 50 million consumers. The CFA was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through advocacy and education. Find them online at www.cfa.org.