Stretching Your Gas Mileage

Unleaded regular at $4 a gallon this summer? It's already happening in some states. And there are some signs that sky-high gas prices are finally having an effect on the average American's buying habits, as sales of cars recently outpaced sales of light trucks and SUVs for the first time

“Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.”—George Carlin

Unleaded regular at $4 a gallon this summer? It’s already happening in some states. And there are some signs that sky-high gas prices are finally having an effect on the average American’s buying habits, as sales of cars recently outpaced sales of light trucks and SUVs for the first time in several months. At $4 a gallon for gas, a smaller, more economical car can save you plenty.

If you put 15,000 miles a year on your vehicle, you’ll burn 1,000 gallons of gas in a 15-miles-per-gallon SUV. Switch to a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon and you’d use half as much gas. If gas costs $4 a gallon, you’d save $2,000 a year, enough to take some of the sting out of your monthly car payment.

Another money-saving strategy that many consumers employ is hunting for bargains on gasoline. The urge to travel further to save a few cents per gallon gets stronger as the price of gas goes up. But traveling those extra miles for cheaper gas may not be worth it. The more expensive the gas, the shorter the distance you should be willing to travel (or the greater the price difference must be). That’s because saving a dime on a gallon of gas that costs $4 a gallon puts less extra fuel in your tank than a similar saving on $3-a-gallon gas. (Still, if you want to know what nearby pumps are charging, visit Gasbuddy.com.)

A simpler penny-pinching tactic is to turn off the air conditioner. A stop-and-go city drive with the AC on can boost your gas consumption by up to 25%. And don’t try to economize by not filling up the tank all the way or postponing a trip to the gas station. In today’s volatile market, the price of gas may be 5¢ or 10¢ a gallon higher the next time you fill up.

72%Percentage of Americans who say gas price increases have caused them financial hardship.(CNN, 2008)

Read More:

Who's to Blame For $4 Gas

Why Small Cars Are a Smart Buy

6 Gas-Saving Myths

44 Gas Savings Tips

Car Concerns: Buy or Lease?