As if 2012 weren’t already shaping up to be the most expensive year for gas prices, we’re nearing the end of summer with some of the highest prices we’ve seen in months.
At $3.72, gas costs consumers $0.40 more per gallon than the summer’s lowest point, Time Moneyland’s Brad Tuttle reports.
With labour Day travel plans swiftly approaching, now’s the time to start finding ways to maximise both your gas tank and your wallet.
Here are 10 tips to get you started:
1. Don’t ignore the check engine light: Chances are whatever’s wrong is cutting your car’s fuel efficiency. As we recently pointed out, the most common cause for check engine lights popping on is a damaged oxygen (O2) sensor, which can cut fuel efficiency by 40 per cent.
2. Change your air filter: If left alone, this little accessory can get clogged up with all the gunk it sucks in with outside air and cut your fuel efficiency 10 to 20 per cent, according to CarMD. At current gas rates, that could cost you an extra $250 to $450 more each year. Change the filter yourself or drop $25 for a mechanic to do it.
3. Lose the junk in your trunk: Loading down cars or trucks with unnecessary weight makes the engines work even harder to get from point A to B.
4. Carpool: Make friends at work and see if anyone’s interested in splitting a tank of gas once a week. You can alternate using one another’s cars to even out the wear-and-tear and even chip in for monthly car washes. If your commute’s your idea of QT (Quiet Time), then politely let the other passengers know you’re not in the mood for small talk. Headphones usually do the trick.
5. Don’t turn left: It may sound far-fetched, but researchers have found that avoiding left turns whenever possible means less time spent idling (burning gas) while waiting for a turn signal. It can reduce travel time by 20 per cent and save gas as well.
6. Don’t idle: If you’re picking up your kids from soccer practice, you’re better off pulling into a parking spot for a few minutes rather than idling by the curb. Per CarMD: “Idling for over 10 seconds uses more gas and causes more pollution than restarting your engine.”
7. Check your tires: The health of your tire’s tread and air pressure can increase your gas mileage by 10 per cent, according to CarMD. You can find the proper pressure specifications on a manufacturer’s note (usually found on the inside of the driver’s door).
8. Use gas rewards credit cards: Check out the best gas rewards cards on the market right now if you haven’t already. We’re not suggesting taking out a new line of credit just to save on gas, but if you’re not taking advantage of a card that gives cash back on fuel purchases, you’re leaving money on the table.
9. Load your smartphone with apps: Gas price comparison apps are all over the place, but we’ve honed in on 15 of the best here. You’ll see where to find the cheapest gas in your zip code and plan your commute accordingly. FuelLog is available for Androids and GasBuddy can be used with iPhones and Androids.