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14 Ways to Stop Being a Chump at the Pump

News flash – gas is expensive! What, you already knew that? Of course you did, but how many of these saving tips and tricks for the gas pump are you aware of? We’ve collected 14 here to save you money and leave you feeling a little better after filling up that tank.

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Let it Click

More than 15 percent of cars have broken, missing or malfunctioning gas caps that allow gas to evaporate out of your tank. Evaporating gas is not only bad for the environment by contributing to air pollution; it’s bad for your personal economy as well. A faulty or missing gas cap can lower your car’s gas mileage. So replace broken or missing gas caps, and when you’re done filling up, turn your cap until it clicks to be sure it’s closed all the way.

Slow it Down

Sammy Hagar may not have been able to drive 55, but he’s a mega rich rock star who can afford the higher cost of fuel that comes with going fast. In most cars and trucks, even a five mile an hour reduction in speed can reduce your fuel consumption by up to 70 percent.

Take it Easy

Sticking with the 70s and 80s music theme – taking it easy when you’re driving means accelerating smoothly. Driving like you’re in a drag race can cost you up to 30 percent more at the pump.

Riding the Brake

Giving your brakes a break will not only lower your maintenance costs by having your brake pads last longer, it will also lower your fuel costs. Riding your brakes on the highway is the least fuel efficient way to regulate your car’s speed. And if you slow down and accelerate more carefully, it’s not necessary to brake so much.

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Lighten Your Load

This has nothing to do with your state of mind and everything to do with the junk in your trunk. Hauling around a truck full of stuff can drop your car’s fuel efficiency by 1 to 2 percent for every extra 100 pounds. Reducing your load by 100 pounds will get you a discount of about three cents a gallon.

Turn it Off

Having to wait for your in-laws to finish saying goodbye is stressful enough and spending an extra 1 cent a gallon for every three minutes your car is idling is almost grounds for divorce. If you expect to be stationary for more than 30 seconds, turn your car off. You’ll use less fuel to restart than you will idling. And the planet will thank you!

Out of Breath

Just like a person, if your car can’t catch its breath, it won’t run efficiently. A dirty air filter can cost you up 10 percent more for fuel. At current prices that’s more than 30 cents a gallon. Check your air filter when you have your oil changed to make sure it’s clean.

Straighten Up and Drive Right

If your car’s wheels are out of alignment not only will your tires wear out prematurely and unevenly, putting you at risk and costing you serious money for new tires, you’ll be spending up to 10 percent more for fuel.

Out of Tune

This is not about your shower voice, but your car’s engine. Because newer cars require tune-ups less often, this one is easy to miss. A properly tuned up engine can reduce your gas cost by up to 5 percent.

Pump it Up

Take Elvis Costello’s advice and pump your tires up. Underinflated tires can cost you six cents a gallon or more. Stop by the auto parts store and for less than $5 you can say to your tires in your best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, “I’m here to pump you up!”

Cash is King

An increasing number of gas stations are passing the cost of credit card processing onto customers. Or, if you prefer, a lot of gas stations are rewarding customers for paying with cash. Either way, the savings can be significant- as much as 10 cents a gallon or more.

Get an App

Install an app on your smartphone to find the least-expensive gas station in a certain radius of you.

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Timing is Everything

Timing matters in more than comedy and ping pong, it can make a difference in how much you pay for gas. If gas prices are going to go up in any given week, it usually will happen on a Thursday in preparation for the weekend. Filling up earlier than that can save you a few bucks just because you timed it right.

Gift Cards

Major gas companies will sometimes offer prepaid discount gas gift cards. Since the discount is a straight dollar amount (say, $5 off a $100 card) the price per gallon doesn’t matter.

Photo Credit: flickr

Frank Addessi Born and raised in the center of the known universe, Brooklyn NY, and currently hiding out in the bucolic hills of northeast Pennsylvania writing about personal finance. His expertise includes personal loans, credit cards and retirement. It's not easy living the American Dream but someone has to do it!
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