How to get the most out of your gas

July 1, 2014 11:59 AM

As the Fourth of July approaches and, along with it, the travel season, it is a good time to start watching your gas mileage. This time of year, gas prices peak and driving can certainly start to hurt your wallet. AAA expects that this Independence Day will be the most expensive for gas since 2008. Recent turbulence in Iraq has greatly increased the price on global petroleum. It is predicted 34.8 million drivers to hit the road this weekend, traveling 50 or more miles. They also estimated the national gas average to hover around $3.68 per gallon, 20 cents higher than pricing last year. With that in mind, drive smart this holiday season, and follow these gas-saving tips to get the most bang for your buck.

Before you hit the road, check your car
It is a good idea to plan your travels before getting in the car. A little preparation can go a long way.

If you are in the market for a new car, try to get one with the best gas mileage. Bigger is not always better. Remember, more compact cars use less gas than SUVs and large sedans. For those of us who already own a car, regularly scheduled maintenance is important. If you notice the gas mileage on your car has significantly gone down, it could indicate a larger mechanical issue, and your local auto repair shop should be able to fix the problem.

When it comes to your car’s fuel efficiency, your tire pressure plays a large role. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, according to the Department of Energy.

“When your tires don’t have enough air in them, their rolling resistance is dramatically increased and it simply takes more gas to get anywhere,” Chris Faulkner, president and CEO of Breitling Oil and Gas, told Forbes.

Helpful driving practices
Once you set out on your travels, whether you’re taking a weekend vacation or just running errands around town, there are things you can do while driving to save gas.

When you are planning to make a lot of stops, try to be as efficient as possible. Instead of going to the bank on one side of town and then heading to the other side to go shopping, try to run your errands in a common location. This will help cut down on driving time. You should always aim to travel the most efficient route. The more direct, the better.

After getting back in your car, whether it be after a store trip or a quick pit stop, you may be tempted to start your engine and let it cool down before you drive. An idle engine can burn a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, reported the Department of Energy. Air conditioning also can burn through gas quickly, so you should try to limit its use.

Another important thing to pay attention to is how you drive. Did you know that safe driving can pay off? By avoiding speeding, breaking quickly and accelerating recklessly you use your gas in a more efficient manner, burning it more slowly.

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