AAA offers strategies, tips to reduce gas usage

April 11, 2019 - 12:30 pm

AUSTIN ( -- With gas prices across the Austin area up nearly 50 cents since the beginning of the year, AAA Texas is sharing some tips on how you can conserve fuel and save a little at the pump.

  • Optimizing your daily driving. Maintain steady speeds. A car uses extra fuel when accelerating. Cruise control may be a fuel saving option for motorists who drive a lot because a steady speed conserves fuel. It's helpful when driving on level roads; however, cruise control hurts mileage if you drive on lots of hilly terrain.
  • Minimizing last-minute braking. Anticipate traffic conditions, and be alert for slow-downs and red lights and coast up to them, if possible. Drive smoothly, avoiding "jackrabbit starts." The faster you drive, the more fuel your car burns. Also remember that traveling slower than the traffic flow around you can cause a safety hazard.
  • Making sure you’re shopping around. Shop around your neighborhood for lower gasoline prices at different stations - but traveling too far to save a few cents wastes fuel and may end up costing you more money.
  • Don't haul extra weight in the passenger compartment or trunk. Reducing extra weight can save up to 2% fuel economy for every 100 lbs. removed, depending on the weight of the vehicle. Also lose the roof rack if it's not used regularly. Carrying things on a roof rack increases aerodynamic drag and reduces fuel economy year-round.
  • Using the air conditioner only when necessary. Air conditioning reduces fuel economy by about 5 percent or more in an older model vehicle. The rule of thumb on hot days is to open your windows when you are driving slowly (under 45 mph) but close them and turn on the air conditioner at higher freeway speeds. Driving with the windows open can increase the aerodynamic drag, and this effect increases proportionately with speed.

More tips to save gasoline and money include:

  • Read your owner’s manual for the recommended fuel for your vehicle. If it says "regular unleaded gasoline" is recommended, using anything else is a wallet-drainer, and if it says "premium required" you must use it for proper vehicle operation. (However, when your manual says mid-grade or premium “recommended,” read carefully; sometimes it indicates you can use regular unleaded to save money, but you may experience reduced power and/or a small reduction in fuel economy.)
  • Look into gas rebate programs and other credit cards that provide a rebate every time you fill up. Some grocery stores also provide a gasoline discount program.
  • For families that have more than one vehicle, select the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets the task at hand. Don’t automatically jump into the SUV or truck when the sedan will do. Use the most energy-conserving vehicle you own as much as possible. Consider renting a fuel-efficient vehicle for vacations and long trips to save on fuel costs. Conversely, consider renting a full-size truck instead of buying it if you only need its capabilities occasionally.
  • Consolidate errands to cut down on driving and number of miles driven. Plan your route and look for a location where you can take care of all or most of your errands. Avoid excessive idling. Parking your vehicle and walking into the store or restaurant instead of using a drive through will save gas and the walking may improve your health. Choose a shopping center where you can park and walk to most of the stores you need.
  • Look at your work schedule. Can you shift your working hours to avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic? Is car-pooling an option? Both can save gas and reduce vehicle wear.
  • Comparison shop by telephone, the Internet or through newspaper ads to reduce driving.
  • Properly maintaining your vehicle is critical in reducing gas use. Under-inflated tires, for example, can cut fuel economy by up to 2 percent per pound of pressure below the minimum recommended level. Worn spark plugs and dirty air filters also increase fuel consumption.
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