SOURCE: Auto Club of So. Calif.

March 06, 2008 04:05 ET

Auto Club Recommends How to Cope With Record Pump Prices

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - March 6, 2008) - Record gasoline prices are here. Motorists can lower their gasoline expenses even before they fill up at the pump, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center. By using the following strategies, car owners can save on gasoline costs and likely extend the life of their vehicle. The result could be up to a 50 percent reduction in fuel usage annually.

"What motorists don't realize is that they can significantly reduce fuel consumption on an annual basis and save money by making simple adjustments in their driving habits," said the Auto Club's Automotive Research Center Manager Steve Mazor.

Shopping for low gasoline prices in their local communities may save motorists money, according to the Diamond Bar-based research center, but traveling long distances to save a few cents wastes fuel and may cost motorists more money than they save.

Some basic tips to save gasoline and money include:

--  Read your owner's manual for the recommended fuel for your vehicle. If
    it says "regular unleaded gasoline" is recommended, using anything else is
    a waste of money, and if it says "premium required" you must use it for
    proper vehicle operation. (However, when your manual says mid-grade or
    premium "recommended," read carefully; sometimes it indicates you can use
    regular unleaded to save money, but you may experience reduced power and/or
    a small reduction in fuel economy.)
    
--  Look into gas rebate programs such as the AAA Visa® card and other
    credit cards that provide a rebate every time you fill up.
    
--  Families have more than one vehicle, so select the one that meets the
    task at hand. Don't automatically jump into your "battle cruiser" when the
    sedan will do. Consider renting a fuel-efficient vehicle for vacations and
    long trips to save on fuel costs. Conversely, consider renting that full-
    size truck instead of buying it if you only need its capabilities
    occasionally. Use the most energy-conserving vehicle you own as much as
    possible.
    
--  Track your fuel economy; if it drops suddenly, have the cause
    determined and corrected.
    
--  Consolidate trips and errands to cut down on driving and number of
    miles driven.
    
--  Shop for low gasoline prices to be sure you're getting the best price.
    Remember though that traveling long distances to save a few cents wastes
    fuel and may cost motorists more money than you save.
    
--  Plan your route and find one location where you can take care of all
    or most errands. Avoid excessive idling. Parking your vehicle and walking
    into the store or restaurant instead of using a drive-thru will save gas
    and the walking may improve your health. Choose a shopping center where you
    can park and walk to most of the stores you need.
    
--  Look at your work schedule; can you shift your working hours to avoid
    bumper-to-bumper traffic? Is carpooling an option? Both can save gas and
    reduce vehicle wear.
    
--  Comparison shop by telephone, the Internet or through newspaper ads to
    reduce driving.
    
--  Properly maintaining your vehicle is critical in reducing gas use,
    according to Mazor. Under-inflated tires, for example, can cut fuel economy
    by up to 2 percent per pound of pressure below the minimum recommended
    level. Worn spark plugs and dirty air filters also increase fuel
    consumption.
    
--  Slow down and drive smoothly, avoiding "jackrabbit starts." The faster
    you go, the more fuel used. Remember, however, that traveling slower than
    the flow of traffic can cause a safety hazard.
    
--  Don't haul extra weight in the passenger compartment or trunk.
    Reducing extra weight can save up to 2% fuel economy for every 100 lbs.
    removed depending on the weight of the vehicle. Also lose the roof rack, if
    it's not being used regularly. Carrying things on a roof rack increases
    aerodynamic drag and reduces fuel economy -- year round (no matter how cool
    the ski rack looks!)
    

Driving style also can impact the amount of gasoline motorists' use, according to the Auto Club's Automotive Research Center. More tips to reduce gasoline use include:

--  Knowing the correct starting procedure for your car. Racing an engine
    to warm it up wastes fuel.
    
--  Maintaining steady speeds. A car uses extra fuel when it accelerates.
    Cruise control may be a fuel saving option for motorists who drive a lot on
    open roads because maintaining a steady speed conserves fuel.
    
--  Minimize braking. Anticipate traffic conditions. Be alert for slow-
    downs and red lights.
    
--  Use the air conditioner only when necessary. Air conditioning reduces
    fuel economy by about 5 percent and more if the vehicle is an older model.
    The rule of thumb on hot days is to open your windows when you are driving
    slowly (under about 45 mph), but close them and turn on the air conditioner
    at higher speeds. Driving with the windows open can increase the
    aerodynamic drag, and this effect increases proportionately with speed. A
    light exterior color and light interior cloth seats and tinted windows can
    reduce heat build-up, thus reducing the need for air conditioning.
    

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jeff Spring/Elaine Beno
    714-885-2333