Driving habits that will ease your pain at the pump

10:34 AM, Sep 15, 2022
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With high gas prices lingering, you may be scrambling for ways to use less. While hybrid and electric cars show promise for a future with less reliance on fossil fuels, budgeting for a new car takes time.

Fortunately, you can save money at the pump now with these tips.

Check your tire pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure can improve your gas mileage, according to local State Farm insurance agent Pam Hansen Alfred.

“One thing people don’t think about is, if you have your tires properly inflated to the manufacturer’s suggestion, that saves money,” Alfred said.

While it may seem counterintuitive, low tire pressure causes worse mileage at slow speeds. For example, when tires are at 50% of their recommended pressure, fuel economy drops by 10% when driving 40 miles per hour, compared to dropping 5% when driving 80 miles per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Either way, properly inflated tires mean better gas mileage.

Fortunately, you can easily use a self-service tire inflation station or, if you want help, many tire shops will check pressure and inflate tires for free.

Pay attention to octane

Check your vehicle manual for the recommended octane level because higher octane doesn’t necessarily lead to better mileage, Alfred said.

“Make sure that you use the right grade of gas for your car,” Alfred said. “Sometimes these cars actually perform better on the cheapest octane. I have a newer car, and I noticed when I put in the highest octane, I don’t get as good of gas mileage as on the 87.”

The type of gas you use affects the efficiency of your engine, which matters for gas mileage and for the long-term health of your car.

Watch your speed

Many vehicles decrease in efficiency above 50 miles per hours, according to the Department of Energy.

“Back in the day, the government mandated that we drive 55 miles per hour to save gas,” Alfred said. “It was a nuisance, but it really did save a lot on gas. I came home from a trip last night, and my car calculated what my gas mileage was. The higher speed really cut into the efficiency.”

Using cruise control will help you avoid the tendency to speed. Plus, giving yourself extra time to commute or take long trips will not only reduce your gas use, it will reduce your stress level.

Walk more

If you find yourself defaulting to driving even when your destination is a few blocks away, try changing things up.

“It helps that many people can work from home now, but we can also try to walk more for nearby errands,” Alfred said.

Beyond saving money, walking also helps the environment.

Save money on other bills

If paying for gas is impacting your budget, you can look for ways to lower other expenses, such as your car insurance bill.

“It’s a good time to review or compare your auto insurance rates with what you’re paying now,” Alfred said.

You may be able to save quite a bit of money without much effort. For a free quote online or over the phone, visit Pam Hansen Alfred’s State Farm page. A Great Falls local, Alfred has served the community as an agent for 36 years and can help you find the best deal for your situation.

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