Singing the gas pump blues? It’s hard not to long for the good old 1950’s when a gallon of gas cost less than a quarter, or the ‘70’s when it was barely over a dollar – or even the late twentieth century when it was $2.59. Given international turmoil and environmental realities, while the price of a barrel of oil is rising regularly, it’s hard not to be down in the dumps when you’re filling your tank. Luckily, local experts have some tips to help you save money at the pump.

Singing the gas pump blues? It’s hard not to long for the good old 1950’s when a gallon of gas cost less than a quarter, or the ‘70’s when it was barely over a dollar – or even the late twentieth century when it was $2.59. Given international turmoil and environmental realities, while the price of a barrel of oil is rising regularly, it’s hard not to be down in the dumps when you’re filling your tank. Luckily, local experts have some tips to help you save money at the pump.

The best and easiest way to save money, all specialists agree, is to maintain proper air pressure in your tires. The US Department of Energy says the United States loses over two million gallons of fuel each day due to under-inflation.

“Keep your air pressure where it needs to be according to manufacturer’s recommendations,” Marcus Mero, owner of Les Schwab Tire Center urged. “If your tires are low, you’ll definitely pay more at the pump. Also keep your tires in alignment and have your brakes checked regularly to reduce driving costs.”

“The wrong tire pressure is the biggest killer,” Steve Bjers of Bjers Modern and Classic Auto Repair agreed. Biers also emphasized the importance of regular oil changes and tune-ups and keeping the vehicle properly maintained. Driving speed is equally important. “Reduce your speed five miles per hour and you’ll gain up to one mile per gallon,” he said. “One of my customers drives 55; he’s gained 10 miles to the gallon.”

“Drive the speed limit,” Jimm Cross of Cross Petroleum emphasized. “Let maintenance slide and you spend more at the pump. Don’t brake hard and no jack rabbit starts unless you want to throw your money away!”

Ryan Denham of SJ Denham reiterated the importance of optimum tire pressure, clean air and fuel filters, and regular vehicle maintained. “In combination with vehicle speed, these ‘abc’s’ of car care can save at the pump,” he said. “Avoid most fuel enhancing products because research shows they rarely deliver on their promises. It’s like buying snake oil to cure an ill; there’s no magic pill to make mileage improve by 50 cents a gallon.”

“Pay attention to your engine maintenance light,” Randy Cardoza of Mt. Shasta Tire Company said. “If it lights up, don’t ignore it because it means there’s a problem. When something’s out, you’ll be filling your tank up more often. Of course, go with the manufacturer’s recommendations about regular tune ups and services to maximize fuel economy.”

In an effort to maximize his customers’ fuel economy while also participating in green technology, Cardoza invested in NitroPRO Tire Filling service. “It’s really exciting what filling your tires with NitroPRO can do,” he said. “Nitrogen filled tires maintain proper inflation three to four times longer than air filled. Everyone who works with autos knows how important proper tire pressure is.” According to MSN Autos, having tires inflated to the recommended pressure can improve gas mileage as much as six percent.

“Nitrogen filled tires decrease wheel corrosion, improve the car’s handling, and contribute to a longer tire life,” he added. “These tires run about 20 percent cooler; less heats means less wear on the tire.” According to Modern Tire Dealer, nitrogen reduces oxidation of the rim and inner-liner, extending the life of the tire. “Meanwhile, you save at the pump,” Cardoza said.

Some may not benefit from filling their tires with nitrogen, Cardoza said. “We have a nitrogen calculator to determine if it’s worth the investment. “The calculator factors in the price of the tire, the number of miles typically driven, the price per gallon of gas, and the price to fill the tires with nitrogen. “Some might not want to go this way. But if you drive a lot, you could save a bit at the pump.”

The Federal Trade Commission, America’s consumer protection agency, has other suggestions to help reduce the cost of driving. Use the right octane level for your car to keep it running efficiently. Using a higher octane than recommended in your owner’s manual offers no benefit and increases your costs at the pump.
Avoid unnecessary idling; if you anticipate a long wait, turn your car off. Use cruise control when appropriate.

Hauling around extra stuff can cost you; an extra 100 pounds reduces fuel economy up to two percent. As possible, combine errands; several short trips from a cold start uses twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

Fuel prices are high, but there are things you can do to save money. Check with the local auto experts; many provide free tire pressure, air filter, and alignment checks. Regular car care can save money at the pump. As Nike said, ‘Just do it!’