If you want to keep your warm-weather plans in place and your spending on track, it's important to be smart about fuel consumption. Not everyone can afford to buy a new, ultra-fuel-efficient car, so making adjustments to your existing vehicle - and your driving habits - can help you stretch the dollars you spend at the pump.
- Drive mindfully: If you're used to speeding up fast and braking at the last moment, you need to reconsider how you're operating your vehicle - those habits can drain your gas tank and send you back to the pump more often. Instead, make a conscious effort to accelerate and slow down gradually and use cruise control to maintain a constant speed, all of which will help to use fuel more efficiently. When possible, avoid idling and make plans for running errands, to cut down on the number of trips you take.
- Reduce drag: If you drive a truck, smoothing out the aerodynamics of your truck with a truck bed cover or a tonneau cover can make a big difference in fuel consumption.
- Choose wisely: You're typically given three options at the pump, with a trio of gasolines with different octane levels - and different prices. One of the simplest ways to cut costs is to opt for the lowest octane fuel that you can use in your vehicle. Making this change can save you hundreds of dollars per year, without sacrificing performance or gas mileage.
- Give your vehicle a checkup: Maintenance and mileage can go hand in hand, so it's important to make sure that your car is in shape for saving fuel. Check and change your oil regularly - it's an essential component in reducing wear caused by friction between moving parts in the engine. If it's not clean, or if levels are low, your vehicle won't be performing as efficiently as possible. Equally important to getting good mileage is the air pressure in your tires, which should be at the manufacturer's recommended levels (often listed on the driver's side door frame). Proper inflation can improve your gas mileage by up to 3 percent. A check of the air, oil and fuel filters should also be included in a checkup.