Maximizing gas mileage: Cheap Trick Thursday

May 12, 2011|By Liz F. Kay

So,it sounds like there's a respite in store for those who have been struggling with rising gas prices, according to Mike Dresser over at Getting There.

While the average price around the state has exceeded $4 a gallon, it's not expected to stay there, Dresser reported. Whether it will drop by Memorial Day remains to be seen, but hopefully this summer won't be as painful for drivers as it has been in the past.

But regardless of whether gas prices are over or under $4 per gallon, it makes good fiscal sense to improve the fuel economy of our vehicles.

Maintain your vehicle. Check your tire inflation regularly to ensure they remain at the manufacturer's recommended levels. Track your fuel consumption to make sure it remains steady --- sudden dips can not only cost you more at the pump but could mean there's something wrong with your car. And clear out the excess weight from your trunk and other areas ... you're paying more to haul that stuff around.

Don't worry about the air filter, though --- according to Consumer Reports, it doesn't have an impact on newer cars. Nor do you save much by filling up in the morning, when supposedly the gas is cooler and therefore denser.

Keep it smooth. Smoothly accelerating and braking uses less fuel than suddenly going from zero to 60. Consumer Reports also recommends eliminating drag by removing things from the top of your vehicle.

Plan ahead. Leave earlier so you don't feel pressured to drive faster to get where you're headed on time. Time your trips to avoid idling in stop-and-go traffic. Consolidate your errands so you can minimize mileage --- and maintain an accurate shopping lists (perhaps on your smartphone?) to avoid extra trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, a suggestion from Best Buy. If you're making a number of stops, map them out ahead of time to choose the shortest path.

Compare gas prices. Check out the gas price comparison tool at baltimoresun.com and find the lowest prices along your regular routes to and from work or other destinations and fill up for less. Not sure whether a fuel discount is worth a detour? Bankrate.com has a gas price calculator to help you weigh whether the price is right.

What are you doing to lower your gas costs --- using mass transit more? Speeding less? How has the recent increase affected your travel plans? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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