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7 ways to save on gasoline

If you can't give up your car, take some simple steps to reduce how much gas you use and how much you pay for it.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 23, 2012 3:39PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


When thinking about ourselves as egalitarian agents of environmental and climate change, it is too easy to think that our automotive needs take precedence over everyone else's. While you may think you have a special case for driving a huge SUV on your 45-minute commute to work, all others on the road think the same thing about driving their huge SUVs.


Most bloggers suggest that you add carpooling or public transportation to your commute to save money on gas and help the environment. While that is altruistic advice, there is little chance you will be willing to give up your freedom of the road. Here are some ways you can start conserving gas and saving money on your commute:


Combine trips. One of the most draining things you do to your gas tank is start the car. Because of the time it takes to get all of the mechanical, electronic and automatic systems heated and up to speed, your car is not optimizing its fuel use. Instead of stopping at home between errands, make an itinerary before you leave. Visit the bank to get cash, Target to buy laundry detergent, then the grocery store last to avoid spoiled food.


Use the right gas. A lot of people think high-octane gas is better than lower-octane gas because it's labeled "premium." Premium is better than regular, right? In reality, octane simply refers to how much the fuel can be compressed before it combusts. High octane means it can be compressed more. Only buy the expensive stuff if your car requires it.


Cash-back credit cards. If you are going to drive yourself to work, buck up and face the reality that a portion of your paycheck will go to the gas station. Many large gas companies offer their own credit cards for exclusive use at their stations. Big banks also offer their own lines of credit for cash back at the pump and allow you to use their services no matter which station you choose. Post continues below.

Lose the extra baggage.
A couple of lawn chairs, a cooler and a wet blanket from the Jimmy Buffett concert are still taking up space in your trunk. It's December and you saw him in late July. Whether you like Jimmy Buffett or not, you probably have some unused items taking up space in your trunk and backseat. Simple physics states that the heavier an object, the more energy it will take to move it. Clean out your vehicle and save money on gas.


Change your oil. Most people don't consider their oil as playing a major factor in fuel conservation. By choosing the correct blend -- according to your vehicle's owner's manual -- you can add substance-removing additives to your engine, increase lubrication performance and reduce the amount of gas you need.


The early bird gets the petrol. Most people think that filling up when the weather is cold will give them a savings advantage. While this is half true, barely, it is only part of the story. Gas chains decide to change prices closer to noon more than at any other time of day. While the morning may be frosty, the weather has negligible effects on your pump. But getting in before the price changes could save you some money.


Purchase gas anywhere. You might think that large oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon-Mobile charge the highest prices on gas because they can. What most don't realize is that smaller, locally run stations actually have to charge just as much to stay competitive and not run out of their supply. If you are really looking for a cheap gas fix, turn to websites such as GasPriceWatch and apps such as GasBuddy to find the best deals in your area.


While none of these tips are guaranteed silver bullets to eliminate your pain at the pump, combined, they work like a team to save you trips to the gas station. If you are still unsure about saving money on gas, speak to your dealer or mechanic to find out what methods work best for your vehicle.


More from U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money:

Feb 15, 2012 10:21AM
I am surprised that one thing that was not mentioned in this piece is slowing down.  I try to drive 55 mph and stay in the far right lane on the freeway. That is the optimum speed for the best gas mileage for my vehicle. I checked and it said that if you are going 20 miles an hour faster (75 mph) you would use 20% more gas!  I plan to get a bumper sticker that says: "I can't afford to speed at $4. a gallon!"
Jan 23, 2012 7:58PM

better yet, more electric or hydrogen-powered cars - lets stop making the Oil companies richer

Feb 28, 2012 4:22PM
Of course, if the price goes down, getting in before the price changes is not such a great idea. So let's just call it garbage and move on, shall we?
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