Driving to Stretch Your Gas Dollars

Fueling up

hide captionKeeping your car tuned up and minimizing idle time can save you money at the pump.

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With regular gasoline averaging $2.55 at the pumps, how can drivers maximize their fuel use? Robert Siegel talks with Warren Brown, automotive writer for The Washington Post.

Below are fuel-saving suggestions from AAA:

AAA's Top 10 Gas-Saving Tips

1. Compare prices and remember that you will find the cheapest prices in areas with many competing gas stations. Off-brand gas can often be 10-15 cents cheaper. Often the price of gas just outside of an area mandated to distribute reformulated gasoline will be cheaper.

2. Keep tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires cut fuel economy.

3. Accelerate gently, brake gradually and avoid hard stops.

4. Do not purchase mid-grade or premium gas unless it is specifically recommended by your owner's manual or is needed to prevent knocking in an older vehicle.

5. When traveling at highway speeds, running the air conditioner at a low setting provides better fuel economy than driving with the windows rolled down. (Having the windows down creates extra wind resistance, which makes the engine have to work harder.)

6. Don't let the vehicle idle for more than a minute. Idling for longer than a minute wastes more gas than restarting your engine.

7. Drive the speed limit. In highway driving, over 50 percent of the energy required to move your car down the road goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag (pushing air out of the way). As you drive faster, aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance increase. As a result, at speeds above 55 miles per hour, fuel economy decreases rapidly.

8. Combine errands into one trip or go to one location to take care of as many errands as possible.

9. Remove non-essential heavy items from the trunk and passenger compartment.

10. Periodically calculate and monitor the vehicle's fuel economy performance. A loss of fuel economy could mean mechanical trouble.

Source: AAA Mid-Atlantic

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