“The average price of a gallon of gas is $1 more than it was at this time last year and car-dependant people on a budget need to look for ways to conserve gas as much as possible so as not to strain their finances in other important areas, such as food, rent and utilities," said Barbara Stark, director of community development and education with the Sunrise-based non-profit credit counseling organization American Debt Counseling Inc.
Stark calls attention to the following tips from the U.S. Department of Energy for consumers fed up with filling up at the pump:
- Keep your car engine tuned and improve mileage by four to 40 percent while saving 12 cents per gallon.
- Save nine cents per gallon by keeping your car tires inflated to their proper pressure.
- Use the octane fuel recommended in the owner's manual and save 3 to 6 cents per gallon.
- Lose the junk in your trunk. Save between four and eight cents per gallon by reducing the weight in your vehicle by 100 pounds.
- You can assume that each five miles per hour you drive over 60 will cost you an extra 24 to 87 cents per gallon.
- Shop around for gas. Comparing prices at different stations can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
- Don't be an aggressive driver. When driving, avoid fast starts and stops and maintain an appropriate speed. Over time, you will save hundreds of dollars on lower gas and maintenance costs.
- Use motor oil with friction-reducing additives labeled “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol.
- Combine car trips to increase savings. Instead of making several trips in a week to run errands, map out a plan to tackle several in one outing and minimize the number of miles driven.
Stark recommends making use of available smart phone apps and resources such as gasbuddy.com that will show you where you may be able to find the cheapest gas near you.
“People who turn to free credit counseling for help budgeting their income and expenses learn that saving a little money in one area can make a big difference when every penny counts,” Stark said.