7 no-brainers to save on gas

MainStreet.com

As gas prices continue to rise, many drivers are left wondering how best to curb the cost of fuel. Depending on where you live and how much you drive, gas expenses can be a significant hit to your wallet.

Of course there are hybrid cars available, but maybe you aren't ready to make the jump just yet. Maybe you just want to hang on to the vehicle that you have for the near future. Fortunately, there are many simple steps that you can take to cut down on the cost of fuel.

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1. Fill up your tank efficiently

While it may be tempting to fill your gas up in increments, it is also likely to cost you more money. The need to travel back and forth to refill your gas tank ends up being more expensive than simply filling up your tank completely.

"Fill the tank full", says Stephanie Nelson, CEO of Couponmom.com. "The more money you try to save by adding $10 today and $20 tomorrow will be wasted since you have to travel to the station."

2. Find the lowest gas rates

You would be surprised at the difference in gas prices in any given area. For this reason, finding the cheapest gas available can save you a significant amount of money each month. Luckily, there are apps available that make this process simple.

"Gas Buddy is one of the most popular gas price checking tools, and it has been for many years now," said Lou Carlozo, contributor for Dealnews. "It ranks among the granddaddies when it comes to finding low gas prices."

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3. Use cash back rewards

There are several Cash Back Rewards systems that can help you cut down considerably on fuel costs. These rewards may be from credit cards, bank accounts or even grocery store coupons. Some of these programs simply reward you with cash back for each visit to the pump while others allow you to put your rewards towards things like student loan repayments and savings accounts.

According to research released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration this past winter, American households spent almost $3,000 worth of gasoline in 2012. With 3% back on these purchases consumers would be rewarded with close to $100 back in their pockets just by using the Cash Back Rewards card."




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4. Remove clutter from vehicle

A great way to improve your car's fuel efficiency is to get rid of any unnecessary and heavy items that may be in your trunk. While they may not seem like an inconvenience, these items are actually weighing your vehicle down and forcing it to burn more fuel to compensate for the weight difference. By simply removing these items from your car, you can easily improve your fuel efficiency.

5. Inflate your tires

Make sure that you keep your tires adequately inflated. Driving with improper tire pressure is not only dangerous, but it's also fuel inefficient. According to the U.S Department of Energy, inflating tires can increase fuel efficiency by up to 3.3% alone. Check your vehicle manual and find out your car's optimal tire pressure level. Be sure to monitor it at least twice a month.

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6. Don't speed

Speeding is one of the least efficient ways to drive your car. If you are looking to cut back on fuel expenses, try driving the speed limit. You may not get where you are going quite as fast, but it will save you a great deal of gas and money.

"Drive the speed limit and you'll decrease your gas costs - fuel efficiency drops tremendously once you exceed 60 mph," said Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers. "Avoid sudden accelerations and sudden stops as well. Take advantage of cruise control when driving on the highway if your automobile comes with that feature."

7. Tune engine

Maintaining your engine is a great way to keep your car as fuel efficient as possible. Take your car to a mechanic and have an emissions test done. While fixing minor engine problems can end up saving you about 4% of your gas tank, repairing major engine problems can raise your fuel efficiency by up to 40%. That will make a huge difference at the pump.
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