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Gas-Saving Tips Make Timely Topic for Vacations, Memorial Day

(reprint only with permission from Diane MacEachern)

With the vacation driving season set to begin on Memorial Day, millions of drivers are already worrying that gas shortages and high prices await them this summer. Gas prices are already at least $.75 a gallon higher right now than they were at this time last year. Congress' proposals offer no short-term relief. How can consumers “beat the pump” without having to buy a new car? Beat High Gas Prices Now! The Fastest, Easiest Ways to Save $20-$50 Every Month on Gasoline , written by consumer expert Diane MacEachern, offers readers almost 90 ways to save money and gas and still get where they want to go.

To Save Money:

  • Buy the cheapest gas you can find. Smart consumers can find the cheapest gas available every day by comparison shopping in their neighborhoods or by searching on the Internet at www.gasbuddy.com . Drivers can also take advantage of wholesale shopper's clubs and money-back rebate cards.
  • Drive the speed limit. Every 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional $.10 a gallon for gas.
  • Use cruise control. Using cruise control on the highway helps maintain a constant speed that usually will help improve fuel economy by 4-14 percent.
  • Pay cash. Occasionally gas will be cheaper if you pay for it with cash. Get to know the gas vendors in your neighborhood and who offers the best bargains.
  • Use the right octane gas. High octane fuel sells for as much as 20 cents a gallon more than regular unleaded. But unless you're driving a Maserati, you don't need to pay the premium.
  • Walk, bike, take the bus or carpool. In other words, drive less.
  • Pump up your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated will increase fuel efficiency 3.3 percent, and gain the U.S. more oil than what's projected to be in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • Telecommute, combine trips, and shop on line. If you can work at home, do. If you don't have to drive, don't.

To Get Ready for Your Vacation:

  • Get a quick tune-up before you leave . Have your car's oil, transmission and spark plugs checked to improve gas mileage throughout your road trip. You can improve your car's fuel efficiency 4.1% by getting a tune-up.
  • Don't start the engine until you're ready to go . You can waste a lot of gas idling while everyone else is still packing up last-minute items for the trip. Wait until all your passengers are in your vehicle and then turn on the ignition.
  • Be trip smart and traffic savvy . Plan your route to bypass as much traffic congestion as possible. Avoid rush hour in the cities you're traveling through. Use www.mapquest.com to seek out the shortest distance possible to your destination. Walk when you get there.
  • Put away the roof rack . A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your traveling needs with a smaller, gas-saving car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve fuel efficiency by placing items inside the trunk whenever possible. Don't leave the roof carrier on permanently.
  • Rent a green car . If you have to rent a car when you reach your destination, opt for the most fuel-efficient model available. Many auto rental companies now offer their customers hybrids and electric vehicles.
  • Buy gas before getting on the highway . Gas will be cheaper in your neighborhood than it will be on the road.

Gas-Saving Strategies Especially for Summer

  • Know when to close the windows. At highway speeds, it's more fuel efficient to use internal venting or air conditioning than to drive with the windows down, which can actually slow your vehicle down. At slower speeds, such as in the city, keep the windows down and avoid air conditioning, which uses more gas.
  • Use shades. Reflecting sun shades made especially for cars, vans and trucks can be spread inside the front windshield and above the dashboard to reflect heat away from the car and help keep it cool when it's parked, especially if you haven't been able to park in the shade.
  • Cool off before you turn the air conditioning on. You'll use less gas if you roll the windows down and let a hot car cool off a little before cranking up the a.c.
  • Gas up in the morning or in late evening. You get more gas for your money when temperatures are cooler outside.
  • Turn off the car. Idling gets 0 miles per gallon and generates air pollution that turns into smog in summer months. Cars with larger engines usually waste more gas idling than do cars with smaller engines; drivers of idling SUVs may as well just throw money out the window. If you find yourself waiting in long lines at toll booths or the line to pick up the kids at camp, turn off the car until you can move along.

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January 3rd, 2006 -
Save Energy And Money At Home

November 30th, 2006 -
Holiday Tips

October 20th, 2006 -
Green Investment

April 20th, 2006 -
Gas Saving Tips