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Pain at the Pump

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The hike in price seems to have no limit!Having a car to take you where you need to go provides a lot of freedom, but it comes with a cost. There is car insurance, routine maintenance, unexpected maintenance, and of course, gas. As many drivers know by now, the price of gas has been going up as of late and is forecasted to keep going up in the next few months. According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of regular gas is just over $3.83 nationwide. Compare that to an average price of $3.54 at this time last year, and it is easy to see why people are feeling more of a pinch lately at the gas station.

While we will certainly be paying more to fill up the tank this year than we did last year, there are some things we can do to reduce how much gas we burn. Using less gas is also helpful to the environment, so it is a good idea to try to economize our gas usage as much as we can. This article will just go into some simple things we can do that can give us some more time between fill ups.

Drive slower: As with most things in life, the middle ground is usually the answer, and conserving gas mileage is no exception. Most modern car engines work most efficiently when cruising at 55mph. Going any faster will force the car to burn off more gas than it needs to, which translates to a lower overall gas mileage.

Plan ahead to find a good price: We can do all we can to conserve gas mileage, but going to fill up at a station which has a higher than normal price can undo all that hard work. You can use websites such as gasbuddy.com and billshrink.com to find and get alerted to good prices in your area. You can also simply take notice of cheap stations when driving around and use them when you are in the area. But beware not to drive too far out of the way just to save a couple of cents off a gallon, as the time and gas spent going to the station can cancel out your savings.

Consider a gas credit card: Many of us use credit cards for our everyday purchases, so why not just get a card from the gas station you visit most to get some savings? The programs vary, but some stations give 2-5 percent back on the money you spend at their station. Though it is not much per fill up, using the card regularly could get you a hundred or so dollars a year.

Check your tires: Tire pressure should be checked regularly, as it can fluctuate with the outside temperature. It is important to make sure your tires are filled to their optimum pressure not only for the longevity of the tire but also for your gas mileage. According to the US Department of Transportation, under-inflated tires waste about five million gallons of fuel every day. A poorly inflated tire has to work harder to produce the same speed as an optimum inflated tire, burning more gas. Tire pressure can be checked by a simple pressure gauge which can be found at any auto parts store or at most gas stations.

Replace your air filter: The air filter is responsible for keeping out useless stuff from the environment, such as dirt and bugs, from hurting engine performance. If the air filter is in need of being replaced, that can affect gas mileage, because the engine is not working as efficiently as it should. According to a survey by Advanced Auto Parts, a dirty air filter can reduce gas mileage by as much as 20 percent. Most filters should be replaced every 5,000 miles, but your cars manual should have the exact information.

Fill up late: It is interesting to see when people start feeling uneasy about their gas level. Some feel the need to fill up when the empty light is on, while others like to fill up if half a tank is gone. For gas mileage purposes, it is better to fill up as late as you can, because having less gas will make your car lighter and more fuel efficient. Just don't wait until you are stranded on the side of the road!

Consider a fuel efficient car or a hybrid: Many people drive cars that just are not very fuel efficient. This can put you behind the 8 ball of saving gas right away and in a big way. Consider trading in for a fuel efficient vehicle or a hybrid. ConsumerReports.com has comprehensive lists of which cars have the best mileage.

Drive less: Many people can't think of another way to get to work or school other than driving. But while not practical for everyone, some people can use services like public transportation, car-pooling, biking, or simply walking to get to their destination. Not using your car also helps the environment, and walking and biking regularly can greatly improve your health. Looking into options such as these can ease a lot of strain on money spent on gas.

These are just some of the easy-to-implement tips that can be used to improve gas mileage. Though each individual tip may not yield a huge savings, using a bunch of little tips that you have not used before can definitely produce a good result. Let's just hope prices don't rise to the $5 per gallon this summer that is predicted!

Author of this article: Wajahat Hussain
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