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Three Sure Ways to Save on Gas

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On: Sat, May 18, 2013 at 11:41AM | By: Bill Wilson

Three Sure Ways to Save on Gas

When the topic of conversation turns to ways to save on gas, it seems that everyone has an opinion. But, while all these suggestions are well-intended, not all of them are equally valuable. Take changing the air filter as an example. While it can do your car a world of good in other ways, it won’t boost your MPGs, despite what many people believe.

Other folks swear that the trick is to buy gas early in the morning, so it comes out of the pump cooler. This, too, has no effect on fuel use. So how do your separate fact from fiction when it comes to boosting your car's efficiency? Here's a look at 10 popular tips for saving gas. We'll see how much truth there is in each one.

1. Don't idle—you've probably heard that shutting down your car at red lights can put more money in your pocket. But is it true? Well,sort of. If you'll be idling for longer than 60 seconds, then you might as well turn the engine off and save a few pennies. If you'll be sitting still for shorter periods than that, then you may or may not benefit from shutting down, depending on the model of your car. One thing is for sure, however: Letting your vehicle idle for several minutes in the morning is like pouring fuel down the drain. Modern cars don't need an idling period to run well. In addition, most of them reach a comfortable temperature within five minutes, even on the coldest winter mornings.

2. Roll the window down instead of running the AC—this is partially true. Air conditioning compressors do create a drag on fuel efficiency. But rolling the window down also increases drag on the vehicle. So what's the right thing to do? Most experts say that it's best to keep the AC off and windows down while engaged in around-town, stop-and-go driving. On the other hand, if you're cruising down the highway, then you'll come out ahead by putting the windows up and cranking up the air on hot days. You'll also be a lot more comfortable.

3. Drive 55—this one is as true now as it was in the 1970s, when 55 MPH speed limits appeared all around the country. Keeping your car at this pace will make the engine 15% more efficient than raising the speed to 65. Expressed in dollars and cents, every 5 miles per hour above 55 will cost you an additional 21 cents per gallon, and that kind of change adds up quickly.

There are lots of other ways to save money at the pump, of course. But the ones we've talked about today are sure bets when it comes to boosting fuel economy, and putting them into practice won’t cost you a dime. Use them daily and you'll be dropping by your savings institution more often, to deposit all the dollars you save. And who couldn’t use more money in the bank?


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