How to Save on Gas

A little bit of comparison shopping can take away some of the sting of filling up

By Kim Vatis
|  Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010  |  Updated 4:00 PM CDT
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Gas prices are high and getting higher. That's not news. But some comparison shopping can take away some of the sting.

Gas prices are high and getting higher. That's not news. But some comparison shopping can take away some of the sting.

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Gas prices are high and getting higher. That's not news. But some comparison shopping can take away some of the sting.

Chicago's gas prices remain among the highest in the nation, where self-serve averages over $3.15 per gallon.  Milwaukee is $2.90. Miami $2.85.

But those huge swings in prices are a big reason it pays to shop around. And you don't need to race to the suburbs for a cheaper fill-up. Sometimes just driving just a couple of blocks can unveil big savings: one gas station at Western and Ogden earlier this month was selling gas for $.20 less than another station just two blocks away.

But if wasting gas while driving around seems like a silly idea, consider going online. Sites like Gasbuddy.com or Motortrend.com keep tabs and offer up the latest prices and best locations.

There are also mobile applications that make the money-saving tips available at your fingertips.

Search "gas prices" on iPhone and some applications like "Where" are free. Others may cost the same price as a gallon of gas. But the savings it can lead to have people thinking.

What else can you do to save money on gas? Edmunds.com has ideas on how to be more fuel savvy.

Scambusters.org offers up these tips that everyone can use:

1. Always keep your car tuned up and in good repair. We've all seen cars driving down the road that leak gas -- what a waste! A poorly tuned car can use up to 25 percent more gas.

2. Avoid buying higher octane gas than your car requires. Higher octane gas is more expensive, and if your car doesn't need it, you're wasting money.

3. Keep your tires properly inflated. This can make a huge difference in your gas mileage -- up to 6 percent loss for every single pound your tire is under-inflated. Check your tire pressure frequently, especially if your tires have a tendency to lose pressure.

4. Consider getting steel-belted radial tires, since they can pay for themselves over time. They can increase gas mileage up to 10 percent.

5. Remove snow tires after the winter season, since they require more fuel.

6. Don't carry unnecessary items in your car. Every 250 extra pounds eats up an extra mile per gallon. Another good reason to clean out the trunk.

7. Consider buying your gas at the wholesale clubs, like Costco and some Sam's Clubs. You can often save over 10 cents a gallon. Or, if you don't like the wholesale clubs, get a gas credit card. You'll get a 1 percent to 5 percent discount when you buy that brand of gas.

8. Save money with self-service whenever possible. And pay cash if there is an extra charge to use a credit card.

9. Don't let your car idle, either when you warm it up or when you are at a standstill. If you're going to be standing for more than a minute, running your engine wastes more gas than restarting the engine.

10. Buy gas when it's cooler during the day (like the early morning or at night) to reduce gas evaporation.

11. This surprises a lot of people, but don't over-fill your gas tank. You don't want the gas to slosh out or evaporate.

12. This is probably obvious -- but slow down. Most cars are less efficient at higher speeds. You'll save two miles per gallon driving 55 mph rather than 65 mph. That adds up.

13. Another obvious suggestion is to drive less. Combine errands, carpool, and plot out your route beforehand to avoid backtracking whenever possible.

14. Develop good driving habits. For example, accelerate gently, maintain a steady speed rather than speeding up and slowing down, and avoid slamming on the brakes.

15. Keep your windows closed when driving on the highway. Open windows can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. In stop-and-go traffic, open the windows and turn off the air conditioning to save money.

16. Rent fuel-efficient cars when you travel. Research and find reasonably priced places to buy gas before you leave, especially if you'll be driving a lot.

17. Consider buying a car that gets better gas mileage when you choose your next car. This can save you a great deal of money over time.

$mart Money:  Navigating the Road to Financial Freedom
 

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