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Yahoo article makes good headline for saving on gas mileage but even more modest and realistic numbers are welcome

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A recent article on Yahoo.com suggested drivers can save as much as $2 per gallon on gasoline if they follow a few tips offered in the article. That offers wonderful news here in the Chicago area where people are now paying more than $4 per gallon. Unfortunately, the article was probably a bit too rosy. However, that isn’t to say that there aren’t ways to save on gasoline.

According to the Yahoo article, tips include removing junk from the trunk of your car. The article states that every “100 pounds of added weight in a car reduces its fuel economy by up to 2% (working out to) an extra four to seven cents per gallon.”

Here at Performance Unlimited, we’ll occasionally perform repairs or maintenance on a vehicle with a trunk full of odds and ends. But, even the most crammed trunk seldom has even 100 pounds of “junk” in it. Removing unneeded items from the trunk isn’t a bad idea but it may not save as much on mileage as the writer of the Yahoo article suggested.

The article also suggests using credit cards that offer gas rewards on purchases. This is also a reasonable idea but it’s a tradeoff between one set or rewards and another. Most of us are already banking rewards on our purchases.

Another tip is to drive responsibly. Here, the writer refers to U.S. Department of Energy estimates: “each 5 mph one drives over 60 mph adds $0.30 per gallon to the gas bill. Aggressive stops and starts waste another 33% at highway speeds and about 5% at slower, local speed limits.”

Not to take a position opposed to the Department of Energy but, if you can save the $1.27 per gallon suggested in the article by changing your driving habits you can probably save a lot more money in the traffic tickets you’ll avoid. In fact, if you can save that much you’re probably driving without a license already.

Still, jack-rabbit starts and heavy acceleration will adversely affect your mileage. You will save if you go a little easier on the gas pedal.

Maintaining the air pressure in your tires will also help, but I wouldn’t count on saving 12 cents per gallon. If you’re driving on tires that are virtually flat, maybe you’ll save that much. Most of us, however, may save a few cents a gallon by keeping our tires fully inflated to manufacturer’s specifications.

If you live near a grocery chain that is offering discounts on gasoline based on grocery purchases, that may well save you some money on gasoline. However, most grocery chains will fall somewhere below the $2.20 the writer mentions. However, if there is a “Giant” grocery store in the area offering that kind of savings, we’re all for it.

Most grocery stores offering discounts based on purchases have caps on how much you can save and time limits to use the discounts.

Finally, the story suggests planning your routes better. Other than where you can choose between a route through city driving and highway driving, this won’t have a lot to do with your mileage. However, planning trips using the shortest practical route does make sense and can save you money you would otherwise burn up in the engine.

The one tip the article doesn’t mention, which is probably the most important, is to make sure your vehicle is running optimally. A poorly tuned car will burn a lot more extra gasoline than a car with under-inflated tires.

When’s the last time you changed the oil, air filter, had a tune up? These are all good questions to ask when thinking about improved performance, whether that performance translates to better mileage or more power at the pedal.

Ways to save $2 per gallon makes for a great headline. These days, however, saving anything on gas mileage is welcome news to most of us.

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