Squeeze Better Gas Mileage From Your Car

Posted: Mar 14, 2008 12:06 p.m.

CNN Money reports, "The nationwide average price of gasoline set another record Friday, according to the closely watched survey conducted for the motorist group AAA. The average price of regular rose overnight to $3.28 a gallon, according to AAA's Web site." Today marks the fourth consecutive day of record prices, fueling speculation that we may see $4 gas by summer.  

The record prices are fueling a booming market in gas saving tips.  An analysis of the news nationwide shows that there are many ways to stretch more mileage out of a gallon...and fuel efficiency myths you should be aware of. 

Florida's Sun Sentinel recommends that drivers avoid unnecessary trips and combine errands into one trip whenever possible.  In addition, "replacing your fuel filter, PCV valve and breather filter once a year or every 12,000 miles can improve gas mileage by up to 15 percent," the Sun Sentinel notes, and "replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can save you up to six trips to the gas pump a year."  Drivers should also ensure that their tires are fully inflated, and try not to keep unnecessary items in the trunk of their cars - carrying that extra weight burns gas.

California's Napa Valley Register notes that many families have two cars, one more fuel-efficient than the other.  The Register reports on one family that saves fuel by "driving [their] less reliable Jeep instead of the family Yukon in order to save on gas."

California's Bethel Island Press reports, "Drive smoothly and considerately. Aggressive driving - fast starts, excessive speed, abrupt maneuvers and constant braking - is not only dangerous, it significantly increases your vehicle's fuel consumption."  The Press also recommends using gas stations equipped with vapor-recovery nozzles.  "They look like black plastic accordions attached to the nozzle. These curb emissions. Likewise, never try to 'top off‘ your tank with these nozzles. They're designed to shut off when the gas tank is at its optimum fullness."

Mother Earth News adds, "Always obey the 55-MPH speed limit. Actually, whenever you drive above 40 miles per hour, you not only consume extra fuel (because the engine is turning at an increased rate of speed) but also waste additional gasoline by forcing your auto to overcome more wind resistance."

Illinois' Daily Herald notes that many companies have begun to organize car pools, offer "mileage reimbursement ranging from 40.5 cents to 50.5 cents per mile," and "work-at-home programs."  Some employers also offer shuttles to nearby public transit.

Ohio's WBNS-TV notes that drivers can write off some mileage on their taxes: "Anyone who drives a car for charity can write off 14 cents a mile, according to the Internal Revenue Service."  Those "driving a car for certain medical reasons can get 19 cents a mile," while those who drive "a car for business and are not reimbursed by an employer can write off more than 50 cents a mile."  It is important to remember that "in most cases, taxpayers have to itemize their deductions to claim mileage."

South Dakota CBS Affiliate KELO-TV reports that "an email that claims to be from a petroleum worker in California" has been making the rounds of some offices and social networks.  "It claims that pumping gas in the morning and pumping it slower is more economical," but a AAA spokesman says there is nothing to the claim.

For some, the solution may be to upgrade the car they are driving.  The Orlando Sentinel reports, "With no apparent end in sight, Central Floridians have started altering their vehicle-buying habits. The shift is gradual, but there are signs -- from car sales to spending patterns on recreational vehicles -- that consumers may finally be changing course."  Fuel-efficient hybrids and small cars are selling, while large pickups and SUVs are not.  For example, "Sales of General Motors' Hummer H3 -- which gets about 15 mpg -- plummeted nearly 50 percent last year in Central Florida. In contrast, sales of the Toyota Prius -- which gets 46 mpg -- climbed more than 50 percent, according to data from Experian Automotive."

Illinois ABC affiliate WSIL-TV notes that the spike in gas prices is "actually causing a surge in" motorcycle sales.  Shad Zimbro, owner of Black Diamond Harley Davidson in Marion, Illinois, explains, "You can get on a motorcycle and get close to 50 miles a gallon going back and forth to work."

There are fuel efficient options in most car classes.  Ford's Escape Hybrid SUV, for instance, boasts an mpg rating of 34/30, besting even the Honda Accord's 31/22.  Research the most fuel-efficient options in every class with U.S. News' rankings and reviews