When it comes to buying gasoline, it’s easy to feel like we’re at the mercy of the oil-producing nations or the giant oil companies. What can we do if Kuwait decides to cut back on production or if ExxonMobil decides to close a large refinery?
Nothing, but there are things we can do to spend less money on gasoline. Here are five tips that work for a lot of motorists:
Get an app. The app market is full of money-saving products, and many of them are free. One of the more popular gas-related apps is GasBuddy, which uses reports from consumers to list the gas stations near you, the price per gallon and the directions to get there. You can get updates hourly or daily, depending on where you live, and those who use it report saving $2 or $3 every time they fill up their tanks. GasBuddy is available on the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry .
Drive the speed limit, especially on highways. Gas costs an estimated 29 cents per gallon more when you drive 65 mph rather than 60, 58 cents per gallon more when you go 70 mph rather than 60 and 87 cents per gallon more when you drive 75 rather than 60. Slow down — and save money.
Turn on the AC. If you drive 60 mph or more in the summer, turn on the air conditioner and roll up the windows. You ’ll burn less fuel if you do that, according to road tests that considered aerodynamic drag. The faster you drive, the more of a factor aerodynamic drag becomes, so roll up your windows to lessen the drag. You can burn even less gas, of course, if you also turn off the air conditioner, but you’ll be very uncomfortable.
Avoid ethanol. This may be politically incorrect, but avoid buying gasoline with ethanol, whenever possible. The federal government has been promoting ethanol for decades as a renewable, homegrown alternative to 100-percent gasoline, and environmental groups talk it up, but it stores less energy than gasoline and reduces gas mileage by 10 percent or more, according to numerous studies.
Check your tires. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can improve your gas mileage by as much as 3.3 percent by keeping your tires properly inflated. Not only that, but properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. To find out the proper tire pressure, look in your vehicle’s owner’s manual or at the sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or in the glove box.