How to Get More for Your Money at the Gas Pump

by : Mike Collins

Gas prices have been spiraling out of control for months, andthere is no end in sight. Increased gas prices do not just hityou when you fill up your tank though. Just think about it for aminute and you will realize how many other ways rising oil andgas prices will cost you. The price of airline travel andshipping services are likely to rise, as is the cost of manyother goods as retailers are forced to pay more for delivery.

You may even see your property taxes increase as towns have topay more to keep their police cars, fire engines, and garbagetrucks on the road.

During times like these it is important to get as much bang foryou buck at the gas pump as possible.

So how can you save money on gas?

While there is little you can do about the market price of abarrel of oil, there are ways to keep down your own personalcosts at the gas pump. Here are some suggestions: Don't payextra for premium gas if you don't need it. Consult your ownersmanual and stick to the recommended octane. Most cars run justfine on regular unleaded gas and you will get no extraperformance by using premium gas.

Shop around. Keep a watchful eye and you'll be surprised at howmuch prices can vary from one gas station to the next. I've seendifferences of eight to ten cents per gallon between gasstations directly across the street from one another. Seems likea small difference but it adds up over time.

Schedule your errands to minimize drive time, or if possiblewalk.

Travel light. Keeping your car and backseat loaded down wastesfuel as it requires more energy to move a heavier car. Take onlythe essentials (a spare tire, first-aid kit, jumper cables,etc.) with you.

Slow down. The faster you drive the fewer the miles you will getper gallon. Drive steady. Avoid quick stops and accelerationsthat waste fuel. Anticipate braking ahead of time and ease ontothe gas pedal rather than flooring it.

Maintenance is key. Keeping your engine tuned and tires inflatedcan make a difference in your fuel consumption. Under-inflatedtires create drag which causes the engine to use more energy topropel the car. Plus, it is unsafe to drive on tires that havetoo little or too air in them.

If you are in the market for a new car, consider models that aremore fuel efficient. Use the air conditioner judiciously. Thereare two schools of thought on this one. The first says you willburn less fuel with the windows down and the AC off. The secondsays that driving with the windows open creates drag, whichwastes more fuel than would be used if the AC was on and thewindows up.

So which one is true? Well...both of them really. The car willconsume more fuel with the air conditioner on and the windowsdown, up to about 45-50 miles per hour. As you drive faster, thedrag caused my the open windows will actually cause high fuelconsumption.

So the rule of thumb is this: keep the AC off and the windowsdown when you are cruising around town and on city streets. Onceyou reach the highway or about 50 mph, roll up the windows andturn the on the AC.

Using these tips will help you save money on gas. While you maynot notice a huge difference with each fill up, the savings willcompound with each fresh tank