FLORHAM PARK–With the national average price for a gallon of regular gas nearly $3 a gallon, many drivers are saying “bah humbug” at the gas pump this holiday season.
“For many, rising gas prices are especially tough this time of year, as they are on the road more with extra shopping trips, holiday events and road trips to visit friends and family,” said Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs for the Florham Park-based AAA New Jersey Automobile Club. “However, there are several easy things drivers can do to stretch each tank of gas and find the lowest fuel prices when it is time to fill up.”
To help ease the burden at the pump during he holiday season, AAA offers these tips for drivers:
· Avoid fast starts and stops. One of the easiest and most effective ways to conserve fuel is to change driving styles. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast to it, rather than waiting until the last second to brake. When the light turns green, gently accelerate rather than making a quick start. The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can lower a car’s fuel economy by up to 33 percent.
· Drive the speed limit. While the holiday hustle and bustle may have you rushing around town, slowing down to observe the speed limit can not only conserve fuel, but also avoid a speeding ticket. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, each 5 mph driven over 60 mph is like paying an additional $.024 per gallon for gas. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach your destination-you’ll arrive safely, you won’t feel rushed and you’ll have a little more fuel in the tank.
· Properly inflate your tires. Only 17 percent of cars have all four tires properly inflated, yet the U.S. Department of Energy states that proper tire inflation can improve fuel economy by up to three percent. Check tire pressure at least once a month, but make sure you do it correctly-a survey found that 85 percent of motorists don’t know how to properly check tire pressure. Check the pressure when tires are cold and have not been driven on recently. Tires should be inflated to the pressure level recommended by the manufacturer (usually found in the owner’s manual or on the driver’s side doorjamb), not the levels on the tire sidewall.
· Plan errands in advance. While running your holiday errands, try to combine multiple tasks into one trip. Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a longer, multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Also, plan the route in advance to drive the fewest miles.
· Keep luggage off the roof. Try to avoid using your car’s roof rack to transport luggage or other equipment-especially over long distances on the highway. A loaded roof rack affects the vehicle aerodynamics and creates extra drag that reduces fuel economy.
· Find the lowest gas prices. Download the AAA TripTik® Mobile iPhone app, which is the first free app to offer frequently updated gas prices, allowing you to compare fuel costs at stations close to your home or on the road. The app’s GPS technology enables you to quickly locate stations on a map and see the price for all available grades of gasoline.
· Keep up-to-date on vehicle maintenance. A well-maintained car gets better fuel economy than one that isn’t. Be sure to follow the manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule and do not ignore warning lights that can indicate when something is wrong. Warning lights can signal problems that will greatly decrease your car’s fuel economy.
The AAA Car Care Center in Springfield offers reliable vehicle repairs and maintenance, including oil changes, tune-ups, manufacturer-recommended service intervals, brakes and battery service. All customers receive a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty, while AAA members receive an extended 2-year/24,000-mile warranty. Log on to AAA.com/CarCare or call 1-973- 467-2651 to make an appointment. If you’re on the go, the AAA Approved Auto Repair program helps you find quality auto repair facilities. You can search for one at your destination or along your route at AAA.com/Repair.
The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, headquartered in Florham Park, provides automotive, travel, insurance, financial and educational services to residents of Essex, Morris and Union Counties. Visit AAA online at AAA.com.
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