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Here’s How to Save Money as Gas Prices Smash Records

Got sticker shock at the gas pump? You’re not alone.

The national average price for a regular gallon of gas topped an eye-popping $4 a gallon for the first time in more than a decade as fuel costs soar over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

With gas prices continuing to rise around the country, we wanted to look at tips that you can save gas and increase your fuel efficiency in vehicles.

Drive sensibly and avoid aggressive driving

“Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town. Anticipate traffic situations and maintain adequate spacing between vehicles to avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration. When you do accelerate, do so smoothly at a moderate rate. Sensible driving is also safer, so you may save more than gas money.”

Observe the speed limit

“While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly as speeds climb above 50 mph. You can assume that for every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph, you are paying an additional $0.18 per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is also safer.”

Remove excess weight

“Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your fuel economy by around 1%. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.”

Avoid excessive idling

“Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use. Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked. It only takes a few seconds worth of fuel to restart your vehicle.”

Carrying cargo on your roof

“A large, blunt roof-top cargo box, for example, can reduce fuel economy by 2%–8% in city driving, 6%–17% on the highway, and 10%–25% at Interstate speeds (65 mph–75 mph). Rear-mount cargo boxes or trays reduce fuel economy by much less—1%–2% in city driving and 1%–5% on the highway.”

Keep your tires properly inflated

“You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box, as well as in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall.”

Keep your windows up on the highway

Putting the windows down and turning off the air-conditioner is a trick best performed in traffic. When you’re on the highway, using the AC is your best bet for cooling.

The wind may feel great coursing through your hair on a summer road trip, but wind resistance can create aerodynamic drag and cause your vehicle to use more energy. And when your car uses more energy, you end up at the fuel pump paying the high gas prices more often,

Maximize your grocery store perks

Speaking of loyalty: Some grocery stores have their own gas stations or partner with certain chains. They’ll let you use your grocery store loyalty reward points to save money on gas. You may be able to save 5 cents, 10 cents, or more per gallon the next time you fill up, simply by doing your weekly grocery shopping.

Other money-saving tips include:

  • Shopping around for gas prices. You can do this through platforms like the AAA Mobile Appor even GasBuddy.
  • Pay for gas with cash instead of a credit card. You might not realize it but some retailers actually charge extra for customers who pay with their card.

EXPLAINER: What does a US ban on Russian oil accomplish?

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