The Back Pocket
Cut Your Gas Consumption and Save Money
The price of gasoline seems to be locked in the $3 per gallon range nationwide and there are no indications that the price will soon drop. In fact, Americans should probably assume that the days of even $2 gas are over for good. The growing dependence of China and India on gasoline combined with continued instability of the Middle East will probably insure expensive gas for the foreseeable future. While the high price of gasoline will hurt the pocketbooks of many Americans, it need not be completely debilitating. There are numerous ways to cut down on gas consumption, and every one of them helps ease the pain on your pocketbook just a little bit. The most obvious ways to save involve combining trips in order to drive less, keeping your tires properly inflated and keeping your car in tune.
But there are some less obvious ways to save money, and they can also help reduce your monthly gasoline bill. Here are some additional things you may wish to consider regarding gas consumption: Don't buy premium fuel unless you need it. The owner's manual of a Dodge Viper might recommend premium fuel, the manual for a VW Beetle almost certainly does not. Using premium gas in a car that doesn't require it is essentially throwing away money. There is no benefit to burning high-octane fuel in a car that doesn't require it, so check your manual and buy the fuel that your manufacturer recommends.
Keep your gas cap on tightly - If you have a gas cap, make sure that it fits tightly. Gas evaporates, and it will particularly do so if you have no cap or if you don't have it on snugly. A certain amount of venting takes place with a properly working cap, but having no cap at all is like pouring gas on the pavement. Park in the shade - Summer heat increases gas evaporation and makes your car work harder to cool off after you start the air conditioner. If you park in the shade, when possible, you keep your car cooler, save your engine some work and save a bit of gas. Keep your air filter clean - A clean air filter helps your engine breathe better through better air flow and will reduce your gas consumption. It's not a bad idea to simply replace it each time you change your oil. Each of the above tips will help reduce gas consumption by a little bit, but the effect is cumulative. The more you do to reduce your use of gasoline, the more you will save. At $3 per gallon, a little savings goes a long way.
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