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7:13 p.m. Thu, April 17th

10 tips on how to beat the high cost of gas without sacrificing that leisurely Sunday drive

Apr 13, 2012, 10:20 a.m.

The news on gas prices today is enough to make anyone ill, even those who don't remember a time when a gallon of gas cost less than 50 cents. But it's a commodity that we all need, so we do what we can without letting it hit our wallets, our bank accounts, or our stress levels with too great an impact. If you want to cut corners and save money on gas but aren't yet willing to give up that leisurely Sunday drive, we've got 10 tips to help you achieve a balance that won't leave you dreaming of bygone eras.

  1. Before you fill up, find the cheapest prices in town. You could take the old fashioned approach of driving past all of the gas stations in your city to find the lowest costing gas, but that activity costs gas! There are several online resources that will allow you to get gas prices without so much as pulling out of your driveway. GasBuddy.com is a great resource for this.
  2. Don't use the A/C. This is easier said than done, especially if you live in states that see far higher summer temperatures than others, but doing what you can to limit the use of your car's air conditioner can prevent from turning your car into a gas guzzler.
  3. Limit your use of the heater in winter. Nobody wants to freeze behind the wheel on a particularly cold day, but just as air conditioning guzzles gas, so do other functions like operating your heater on full blast. Bundle up on particularly cold days so you don't have to tax your tank to keep the chill of winter at bay.
  4. Check the air pressure on your tires. Tires that are underinflated can create drag on your vehicle, causing it to expend more energy -- and hence, to burn more gas -- to get from Point A to Point B. Don't overinflate your tires; this can be dangerous. Check your car's user manual and the air capacity of the tire on your car to find the most gas-friendly pressure.
  5. Slow down! If you were born with a lead foot, do what you can to tame that wild beast. Driving too fast can burn way too much gas and cause you to have to refill the tank more frequently.
  6. Keep your car in good shape. Your tires aren't the only thing that can cause your vehicle to burn an excessive amount of gas to get you around. Paying attention to your car by taking it in for routine tune-ups and oil changes will keep its fuel efficiency high.
  7. Don't let your car idle for too long. This doesn't mean you should turn the car off when you're stopped at a red light. Just don't let your car idle for too long or spend too much gas "warming up" before taking it out on the road.
  8. Map a smart route. If you've got errands to run, it's easy to run back and forth across town all day, burning gas as you retrace your steps. But if you're smart, you'll plan out everything you need to do ahead of time so you can move from one destination to another without having to cover too much ground.
  9. Opt for regular unleaded instead of super. If the choice is between giving your car a taste of "the good stuff" and not being able to use it at all because you can't afford another filler-up, put the smart money on the lowest grade fuel you can find.
  10. Lighten the load. Take a peek into your trunk or back seat. If what you find is enough dead weight to sink a small ocean liner, removing that weight will significantly boost your gas mileage.

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