Five ways to save money on gas
Traffic was torture this morning.
I had half a tank of gas when I left home. I’m pretty sure I lost half of it on my 15 mile stop and start commute.
I was so annoyed when I finally got to my desk, that I called Pam Oakes, a fourth generation ASE-Certified automotive technician, founder of Pam’s Motor City Automotive in Fort Myers, Fla. , creator of the “Car Care for the Clueless” radio and book series and (bonus!) a former news reporter and editor.
Oakes shared her top five tips for saving money on gas:
- Get the junk out of your trunk. “You would not believe the stuff people [store in their trunks],” Oakes says. She’s seen books, bowling balls, golf clubs and just general garbage. “That needs to be out of the trunk. Even though it may be just a few extra pounds, that adds up in fuel economy,” she says.
- Keep air in your tires — but just air. “You don’t need nitrogen,” Oakes says. “When you run over a nail, it doesn’t care what medium you have. That air is coming out.” Oakes notes that several major car makers have issued bulletins noting that there is little benefit to putting nitrogen in your tires. Instead, she says, visit a shop once a month on a day you will remember and have them put air in your tires and top off your fluids. It should be a free service, Oakes says. And if it isn’t, find another shop.
- Watch your alignment. Oakes suggests checking your alignment the next time you go to the gas pump. “Turn your wheel away from the gas pump and check the tires. If one side of the tread looks more worn than the other, your car is out of alignment,” Oakes says. And it doesn’t take a long time to mess up your alignment. “You can wipe out tires on a vehicle in under 500 miles if you hit something just right,” she says.
- Use cruise control. Cruise control helps prevent the fluctuations in speed that are inevitable with a foot on the pedal, says Oakes. Use it whenever it is appropriate, just don’t zone out and think the car will drive itself, she cautions.
- Don’t give your car junk food. Back in the mid-nineties, six big auto manufacturers (GM, Honda,VW, Audi, BMW and Toyota) got together to request a higher standard of gas that met EPA regulations and would make their cars run at peak miles per gallon with the lowest emissions. Top-tier gasoline was the result. “This fuel is health food for your car,” Oakes says.
And a bonus tip for driving in Atlanta: Don’t be a jackrabbit. Oakes has driven in Atlanta. She knows how bad the traffic can get, but no matter how bad it is, don’t let your temper get the best of you, she says. Fast starts and pumping the gas pedal will just drink up the gas in your car.
Based on this list, I have a lot of work to do since I haven’t been doing ANY of it (except maybe using Top Tier gasoline). Are you already following these money saving tips? What other ways are you saving money on gas?
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– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog