By Center for Personal Finance editors
It's summertime and gas prices are on the rise. Fuel prices have been averaging $2.85 per gallon and forecasters expect prices to continue to increase, according to billshrink.com.
In fact, fuel prices are a key factor in the 4.8% rise in the cost to own and operate a vehicle, according to AAA's 2010 "Your Driving Costs," released in April.
Here are some ways to cut your fuel bill:
- Avoid carrying excess weight. Car-top carriers are convenient, but cause you to use extra gas. Every extra 100 pounds reduces miles per gallon by 2%.
- Use cruise control. Driving at a consistent speed saves gas.
- Consider joining a loyalty club. Some gas stations offer lower prices on gas to customers using a membership card.
- Slow down and calm down. "Cut back your speed, not necessarily to the speed limit but to match the traffic flow," says Jerry Edgerton, an automotive writer in New York and frequent contributor to the Credit Union National Association's Home & Family Finance publications. "Even more, don't speed up, slow down, speed up. That means don't tailgate, because then you have to brake and speed up again. Don't constantly switch lanes trying to go faster, then have to brake."
- Avoid idling. "Most people don't think about this," Edgerton says. "This is such a gas saver that auto companies are working on technology to shut off the engine at stoplights, then seamlessly start it again—just as now happens in gas-electric hybrids. If you are waiting for someone, shut off the car."