Maintenance, less aggressive driving keys to saving gas

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

Gas prices are down a little today, but they're still putting a pinch on people's wallets.

Today, gas prices around town are averaging about $2.85 a gallon.

News 12 is On Your Side with some ways to get the most of your money at the pump.

We've all heard the no-brainers like carpooling or taking the bus as a ways to save gas. But let's face it: that's not practical for everyone. Today we spoke with a local mechanic, and you may be surprised to learn about some other ways you can save gas.

With $40 and $50 fill-ups these days, it's no wonder many are feeling the pain at pump.

But there are some things you can do to get the best bang for your buck.

Mechanic Grady Knight says at the top of the list is checking your tire pressure. He says under inflated tires can sap 10 percent from your potential gas mileage.

"That's one of the most overlooked services on any vehicle that we've seen come in the shop," Knight says.

And speaking of tires, make sure they're properly aligned. Tires pointed too far in or out mean increased friction and detract from fuel economy.

And you may have heard that turning off the air conditioning and rolling down the windows will save gas. Knight says that's not always true.

"If you're driving on the interstate with the windows down, you're creating more drag on the vehicle which is actually going to bring your fuel economy down," he says.

Plus, you'll want to make sure your air filter is clean. If it's dirty, it's harder for your engine to breathe.

And check to see if your spark plugs are firing properly.

"The one here is way overdue for its tune-up work, and this will have a big effect on fuel economy as well," Knight explains, holding a spark plug.

There's also the option of buying a new car. That's what John Peters did to replace the gas-guzzler he used to have. He says this new car is going twice as far for the same amount of money.

"This is going to happen again and again. Got to be prepared, got to buy something fuel-efficient," he says.

And while we all can't go out and buy new cars, we all can decide what kind of gas we put in our cars.

Many people tend to always use premium gas. We're told that's not necessary. If your car doesn't require higher-octane fuel, just stick with the cheap stuff. It won't hurt your engine.

Edmunds.com studied some of the most commonly mentioned ways to save gas, and found that the best ways to save are changing your driving habits.

Don't be so aggressive. Take longer to accelerate and slow down.

Also, don't go so fast. Going the speed limit, 65 as opposed to 75 miles per hour, can save you up to 15 percent a year.

On the open road, you can use cruise control to maintain a constant speed.

Of course, you should remove extra weight like golf clubs, and have routine maintenance done on your vehicle.


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