FTC Offers Tips to Stretch Your Gas Dollars

Tips for Consumers

The Federal Trade Commission is offering tips to help consumers save money at the pump and get better gas mileage.

At the Pump
Check your owner’s manual for the right octane level for your car. Regular octane gas is recommended for most cars. See The Low-Down on High Octane Gasoline.

Shop around. Specialized phone apps and websites can help find the lowest gas prices in your area, and many gas stations advertise regular weekly specials.

Charge it. Consider a credit card that offers cash back for gas purchases – some offer 2 to 5 percent rebates, but read the fine print, because fees, charges, interest rates, and benefits vary.

On the Road
Start driving as soon as the engine is started. Modern engines warm up quickly and stay warm after stopping.

Don’t speed. Gas mileage drops significantly when you drive more than 60 miles per hour. Fueleconomy.gov says each extra 5 mph is like paying 24 cents more per gallon.

Unnecessary idling wastes fuel, costs money, and pollutes the air. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a wait.

Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate to improve fuel economy on the highway.

Minimize the need to brake. Be alert for slow-downs, red lights, and bends and turns.

Avoid jackrabbit starts and stops to increase mileage and prolong the life of your brakes.

Use the air conditioner only when you absolutely need it. AC dramatically reduces fuel economy. Most air conditioners have an “economy” setting for circulating unchilled air. Many also have a “maximum” or “recirculation” setting that reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled.

Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold engine start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds can reduce a typical car’s fuel economy by up to 2 percent.

Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack can lower fuel economy by 5 percent.

At the Garage
Keep your engine tuned per your owner’s manual to increase mileage by an average of 4 percent.

Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to increase mileage up to 3 percent, improve handling, and prolong the life of your tires. Check your owner’s manual or the door jamb for the proper inflation (not the tire itself, which shows the maximum pressure), and check the pressure when the tires are cold for an accurate reading.

Change your oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil can improve gas mileage. Oil that says “Energy Conserving” (on the American Petroleum Institute performance symbol) has friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.

When Shopping
Be skeptical about gizmos that claim to improve gas mileage. The EPA has found very few that provide any benefits, and some products can damage your engine or greatly increase exhaust emissions. For a list of EPA-tested products, visit www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/reports.htm.

For more information on energy efficiency at the gas pump and throughout the house, check out Saving Starts @ Home: The Inside Story on Conserving Energy.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

(Gas Saving Tips)

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