Here's how to save drops -- and gallons -- of fuel - East Valley Tribune: Business

Here's how to save drops -- and gallons -- of fuel

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Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 10:19 pm | Updated: 10:20 pm, Tue Apr 5, 2011.

There are nearly as many tips for saving gasoline as there are suggestions for losing weight. Some gas-saving tips might save you a few drops; others will save gallons. In the end, saving money is the key. Here are some ways to cut your costs at the pump:

Light right foot: Stomping that accelerator, particularly on stoplight-choked city streets, is a gas-guzzling mistake. Easy accelerations and lightening up just a little on the highway will add up in the long haul.

Pressure's on: Underinflated tires will drain your wallet. Keep tires at pressures recommended in your car owner's manual, and AAA says you'll improve gas mileage by up to 5 percent. Worn or flat-spotted tires that don't roll smoothly can also cost you mileage and money.

Maintain to gain: Following the recommended maintenance guides for changing spark plugs and air/fuel filters will cost you a little, but save on fuel mileage in cars kept more than five years.

Oil counts, too: Using the grade of oil recommended in the owner's manual could produce a 2 percent improvement in gas mileage.

Shop around: Helpful websites like GasBuddy.com can get you to nearby gas stations offering comparative bargains on fuel. AAA recently introduced a free AAA TripTik Mobile application, where Apple iPhone users can get frequent updates on gas prices.

Customize with care: Large, fancy wheels and wheel coverings might look cool, but they also add weight to the vehicle. More weight, more gas used. Along the same line, remove ski racks and luggage racks when you aren't using them.

The right mix: The optimum mix of engine-cooling fluids and their freshness typically get little attention. Too bad, because an engine running excessively cool or hot is not an efficient engine.

Try the "econ" button: Hitting the "sport" mode button on some cars might be your routine, but unless you need that extra power boost all the time, you're burning money through your fuel line.

No time to idle: Idling the car can keep you warmer or cooler for a few minutes waiting in a parking lot, but be aware that you're burning gas all the time. Likewise, long waits at the drive-through lane save you a few steps, but they cost you gas money.

Be a multitasker: Plan to combine those three car-outing errands into one. It saves miles and fuel.

Be pump-wise: The myriad suggestions that scientists and fuel experts offer for smart filling up at the gas pump include:

-- Fill the tank in early morning, when the temperature of gas in underground tanks is coolest. Filling the tank with cool, relatively dense gas is preferable to buying gas that expands in warmer temperatures.

-- Fill up slowly. A nice, even flow from the fuel nozzle reduces vapor production. And given gasoline's rapid evaporation rate, you're likely to get a more honest fill-up by refueling when your gas tank is half full.

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