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10 tips

How to pay less at the pump

With turmoil in the Middle East sending gas prices skyrocketing, drivers suddenly have fuel economy on their minds. Comparison shopping is one way to save a few dollars. Another is to reduce your gas consumption. Here are some tips for saving on gasoline:

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 9, 2003


1. Give your car some TLC. You'll get better mileage if you keep your car in tune. Replacing a dirty air filter may improve your mileage 10 percent. Replacing a faulty oxygen sensor may produce even more dramatic results.

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2. Choose the right oil. Use the grade of motor oil recommended by your car's manufacturer. Look for the "energy conserving" label, which indicates the oil contains friction-reducing additives.

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3. Check your tire pressure. Underinflated tires waste gas. Using the recommended pressure may improve your gas mileage about 3 percent and extend the life of the tires.

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4. Don't be a hotshot. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking may reduce your gas mileage 5 percent around town and 33 percent on the highway. Once you get over 60 mph, gas mileage decreases rapidly.

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5. Shut off the engine. Idling is a waste of gas. The bigger the engine, the more gas you burn going nowhere.

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6. Plan your travels. Combine errands to avoid wasted trips. Avoid rush hour driving since it may mean more time sitting in traffic. If you're a multicar family, do most of your driving in the car that gets the best gas mileage.

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7. Get in gear. If your car has an overdrive gear, use it to save gas and engine wear. If you have cruise control, use it for highway driving to maintain constant speed and better fuel efficiency.

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8. Pack lightly. Carrying extra weight in your car uses more gas. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk may reduce fuel efficiency 1 to 2 percent. A loaded roof rack will create drag that may reduce fuel efficiency 5 percent.

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9. Try the alternatives. Take the bus or carpool. Walk or ride a bike.

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10. Be a smart shopper. If you are buying a new or used car, look for one with high gas mileage. If you are buying a house, consider commuting distances for family members.

-- Sources: U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.fueleconomy.gov); Alliance to Save Energy

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