These days, filling your gas tank can really drain your wallet. The average price of a gallon of regular gas in Massachusetts, which stood at less than $2 last year, is now approaching the $3 range. Massachusetts drivers paid an average of $2.845 as of May 5-11. That’s an increase of almost a dime from the week before.
It makes road trips, and even running errands, a pricier proposition, but here are seven ways to save money and make the most of your fill-ups.
1. Plan your trips. Improve your driving habits. Combine errands and drive during low-traffic times. Pick up bread and milk while heading home from work, or en route to the soccer field. If you're working from home, take advantage of non-weekend driving if at all possible.
2. Keep up with maintenance. It can be tempting to skip required maintenance to save a few bucks, but properly inflated tires and clean air filters make your car more fuel efficient, thus saving you money (not to mention that skipping maintenance can bite you with higher repair costs down the road).
And don't forget regular cleaning: a washed and waxed car exterior actually improves fuel efficiency, too!
3. Pass on premium. Filling up with premium-grade gasoline will cost you more than filling up with regular. Most cars do just fine without it. Check your manual just to make sure premium is not required. Otherwise, switch to regular!
4. Don’t raise the roof racks (or carriers). Gas mileage can, well, hit the roof when drivers use roof racks and roof carriers. Tests have shown that roof racks can cut miles per gallon (mpg) by 11 percent. Add a cartop carrier and the mpg drops by 19 percent.
5. Get app happy. A number of apps will steer you in the right direction when it comes to gas locations and prices. Gas Buddy, Gas Guru, AAA TripTik Travel Planner, Waze, and MapQuest are just a few options.
6. Stay local. Your neighborhood station is likely to be cheaper than the highly visible highway locations. Keep that in mind when planning your routes.
7. Slim down. The junk in your car's trunk, that is. An extra 100 pounds back there can cut fuel economy by two percent. Especially as gas prices rise, that’s fuel for thought.
If you're replacing your gas guzzler this summer, be sure to download Your Guide to Smarter Car-Buying first, a free eGuide from Hanscom Federal Credit Union. Learn how to make the best financing decision for your needs and budget here and keep even more money in your pocket.
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