Conserving Gas, And Your Money

Gas prices are making headlines and making dents in pocketbooks across the U.S., and the summer driving season looms just down the road. So this is as good a time as any to start heeding fuel conservation tips, such as those offered by Robert Sinclair of the Automobile Association of America (AAA) on The Early Show Wednesday.

These come from his appearance on the show, as well as AAA's Gas Watcher's Guide, and are designed to help drivers save fuel and money:

  1. If you own more than one car, especially if one of your vehicles is a less fuel-efficient truck, SUV or van, use the more energy-conserving vehicle as often as possible.
  2. Consolidate trips and errands to cut down on driving time and keep needless miles off the odometer. Find one location where you can take care of all banking, grocery shopping and other chores.
  3. Comparison shop by phone, online or through newspaper advertisements.
  4. Slow down. The faster a vehicle travels, the more gas it burns. Driving faster than posted speed limits is dangerous and increases stress. Leave enough time to reach your destination at a proper speed.
  5. Avoid quick starts and sudden stops. This wastes fuel, is harder on vehicle components and increases the odds of a traffic crash.
  6. Routinely maintain your vehicle. Keeping moving components properly lubricated and ignition and emission systems operating properly will help your vehicle achieve maximum fuel economy and extend its useful life. Poorly maintained spark plugs, or malfunctioning fuel sensors, can cause your vehicle to burn too much gasoline.
  7. Maintain proper tire inflation. A third of all vehicles have one improperly inflated tire. For every pound per square inch (PSI) that your tires are under-inflated, you're lowering your fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent per tire. Multiply that by four, and that's a big problem. It's like riding a bicycle with a tire that is low on air: How difficult it is to push along when the tire is low?
  8. Lighten the load. Don't haul extra weight in the passenger compartment, trunk or cargo area of your vehicle. A heavier vehicle uses more gasoline.
  9. Check your vehicle owner's manual. If your vehicle does not require premium or mid-grade fuel, purchase less expensive regular unleaded gas.
  10. Shop for low gasoline prices locally, but don't waste gas driving to a distant filling station to save a few cents.
  11. Fuel prices are part of the total cost of vehicle ownership, so consider whether the car, truck or SUV you're thinking of buying is bigger and heavier than needed.
Also on The Early Show Wednesday, correspondent Trish Regan looks at factors behind gas price hikes and how far they could go, and David Champion of Consumer Reports gives viewers a peek at the cars the magazine finds are best at being gas misers, and some new technologies to help vehicles' fuel efficiency.