Save Money at the Pump

man swiping card at pump - save at pumpWith today's gas prices now 41 cents higher than they were a year ago (now hovering in the $3-plus range), and growing talk about possibly hitting $5 by the end of next year (at least according to a former Shell executive), here's what you need to do to drive down the costs and save at the pump.Shop Around
Chances are, you're driving less by consolidating trips, combining errands and even carpooling to be more frugal. And while you can also be frugal when you fill up by shopping around for the best fuel prices, if you drive around all the stations looking for the best prices, the savings are moot. Instead, use the GasBuddy app. Just released (and just in time, as prices hit 15-month highs), it locates the cheapest fuel in your vicinity. When you search, you can compare distance by price and see all grade prices displayed so you never miss a bargain.

Time Your Fill-Ups
Gas prices sometimes rise on Thursdays -- this is when demand is up as people go away for the weekends. Prices stay up, and then slowly start coming down to the lowest price of the week, which is typically Tuesday midday or Wednesday morning.

Schedule Regular Tune-Ups
The bottom line is that regular tune ups equal greater fuel efficiency. Check the filters, fluids, the spark plugs, change the oil regularly (conventional wisdom says every 3,000 miles), and make sure your tires are properly inflated (for every three pounds your tires are below their recommended pressure, your fuel economy drops 1%).

Stop Driving Aggressively!
Fuel economy is directly proportionate to how hard you accelerate and how steady you are on the accelerator. The key to better mileage? Gentle and steady. Each mile per hour over 60 miles per hour is like paying an additional 10 cents a gallon, according to the DOE; erratic acceleration and braking can waste up to 50 cents a gallon.

Skip The Premium
Unless your car requires it -- and very few do -- premium gas is money down the drain, says John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair Network. A lot of people are under the impression that higher octane gas will make their engines perform better -- but it almost never does, so unless you have a luxury car, or a sports car that requires premium, stick with regular unleaded and pocket the savings.
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