With gas prices skyrocketing, here's how to pare down your gas bills.
Drive more efficiently
* Drive sensibly: Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 5% around town and 33% at highway speeds, which translates into a savings on gas prices of 7[cents] to 49[cents] a gallon.
* Observe the speed limit: Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour (mph). Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 10[cents] per gallon for gas. You'll save between 7% and 23%, which translates into a savings of 10[cents] to 34[cents] a gallon.
* Avoid excessive idling: Idling gets no miles per gallon-it just burns fuel. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than cars with smaller engines do.
* Use cruise control: You'll maintain a constant speed, which generally saves gas.
* Use overdrive gears: This makes the speed of your car's engine slow down, saving gas and reducing engine wear.
Keep your car in good shape
* Keep your engine properly tuned: Fixing a car that's noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of about 4% (though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it's done). If your car has a faulty oxygen sensor, having it repaired may improve your gas mileage as much as 40%. You may end up saving between 6[cents] and 60[cents] a gallon.
* Check and replace air filters regularly: Your car's air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car's gas mileage by as much as 10%, which can mean a savings of up to 15[cents] a gallon.
* Keep your tires properly inflated: Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. You can improve your gas mileage by over 3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, which translates into a savings of up to 5[cents] a gallon.
* Use the recommended grade of motor oil: You can improve your gas mileage by 1% to 2% by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. This translates into a savings of 1[cents] to 3[cents] a gallon.
Consolidate errands and trips
* Combining errands into one trip saves you money-and time: Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warmed up. With a little planning, you can avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel as well.
* Travel smart to and from work: If possible, take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs. You can cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Or consider using public transit if it's available and convenient for you. Check the American Public Transit Transportation Association's site (http://www.apta.com) for details about public transportation nationwide.
* Travel smart when on road trips: Avoid using a roof rack or carrier; it gives you additional cargo space, but a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5%. So use your trunk and interior space wisely. Also, skip heavy items you can live without-an extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by 1% to 2%.
Choose a more efficient vehicle
If you're thinking about buying a new vehicle, visit the Find and Compare Cars section of http://www.fueleconomy.gov to find the most fuel-efficient vehicle that will meet your needs. You can review gas mileage for 1985 to 2005 cars. The difference between a car that gets 20 miles per gallon (MPG) and one that gets 30 MPG amounts to $1,500 over 5 years (based on a fuel cost of $1.50 per gallon and 15,000 miles per year).