Are you spending more at the gas pump than you need to?


pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas stationIf you use premium gasoline for your car, you may want to rethink that. Unless your car manufacturer specifically designates the use of premium fuel, you are wasting your money, according to new fuel performance research by AAA. How much money? A whopping $2.1 billion in the aggregate. Yikes. Here’s a summary of what they learned:

“According to new AAA research, American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. With 16.5 million U.S. drivers having used premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation in the last 12 months, AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to determine what, if any, benefit the practice offers to consumers. After using industry-standard test protocols designed to evaluate vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.”

Why do drivers pick premium fuel when they don’t need it? It essentially comes down to the power of advertising and language: “Premium” sounds better to many people – and it sounds like it would be beneficial to your car. But the research shows that, ““Premium gasoline is specifically formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most vehicles cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating.”

AAA says that if you want to upgrade to better fuel, drivers should choose TOP TIER gas rather than a higher octane. Here’s a AAA Premium Fuel Fact Sheet that explains the research and offers more recommendations.

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Gas Prices soaring again.


Gas prices are soaring again in what has become almost an annual spring ritual, although it’s starting earlier this year. Just ten months ago, we did a post on what you can do about rising gas prices – and the information in there is worth another look. This year, though, spurred by rumors of more conflict in the Middle East, gas prices look set to rise more than they have in several years, possibly even above the record high of $4.11 reported on July 17, 2008. What else is different this year? Well, you can now download a variety of apps for your smartphone to help you find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood. Gasbuddy.com in particular is a useful site either online at home or on the go with a free app. The data is submitted by local users so keep an eye on the date of submission to make sure you’re getting the most recent info.
Why do gas prices fluctuate so much? This overview explains How Gas Prices Work. Essentially, it’s a complicated interlocking chains of supply, demand and crude oil prices. Any slight hitch in this chain can cause our prices at the pump to jump or fall in a crazy pattern that seems to make no sense. One thing does seem certain, though and that’s that we’ll continue seeing higher prices at the pump for the foreseeable future.
What can you do to lessen the impact of gas prices on your life? Experts say that the easiest first step is making sure your tires are properly inflated. Over and under inflated tires waste gas, as do dirty air filters, so consider replacing yours more frequently. Yahoo news reports that gas prices are higher on the weekends, so try to buy gas in the middle of the week. And stay away from highway gas stations! Buy your gas in smaller neighborhoods, where prices are likely to be lower.

Tips to save money on the high cost of gas


Gas prices are going crazy and many predict that things could get considerably worse over the summer months before they get better. Some industry experts are predicting that prices could rise as high as $6 a gallon – ouch! Here are some tips to help you save money.
Shop around for prices
Online tools like GasBuddy.com or GasPriceWatch monitor prices and allow you to get the best deal in your geographic area.
Track usage over time to improve performance
Fuelly is a free site that lets you track, share, and compare your gas mileage.To date, 48,208 Fuelly users have tracked 1,274,693 fuel-ups in 65,192 vehicles over 359,298,581 miles of driving. Tracking your usage over time can help you monitor changes to your driving habits. Plus, the site has many user submitted tips for fuel economy. Site users vote on how effective they found the tips.
Rideshare; consider starting a carpoolclub
Carpool with friends, relatives or colleagues. Consider starting a carpool with work friends. Or check e-Ride Share and Carpool Connect to find others in your area who might want to carpool.
Change driving habits to improve fuel economy
Consumer Reports offers tips for how to get the best gas mileage. Click to read the details, but here’s an overview of the pointers.

  • Drive at a moderate speed
  • Drive smoothly
  • Reduce unnecessary drag
  • Don’t use premium fuel if you don’t have to
  • Minimize driving with a cold engine
  • Keep tires properly inflated
  • Buy tires with lower rolling resistance
  • Avoid idling for long periods

Go green and healthy with pedal power
Why not ride your bike to work? It’s a pretty economical way to travel, and you’ll improve your health too.
More tools
FuelEconomy.gov – this site provides gas saving tips, vehicle fuel ratings, comparative tools, and more.
How to Get Better Fuel Economy – advice for improving economy on an existing vehicle as well as for how to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle.
Edmunds – Fuel Economy and Green Cars – a variety of articles and tools. Don’t miss their road test of 4 fuel-efficiency iPhone apps.