Pump up the Savings: Tips to deal with high gas prices

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Gas prices are at record highs for this time of year.
A gallon of regular gas in Mississippi averaged $3.58 Friday, up 25 cents from a year ago, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge.
The price of gas is up 22 cents from a month ago, AAA added.
Mechanics say there are ways to get better mileage out of your vehicle, but the average gas bill won’t be cut in half.
However, their tips might save you a few dollars.
Here are some recommendations from Tom’s Automotive Service in Tupelo, Xpress Lube’s Xpress Service Center, the U.S. Department of Energy’s fueleconomy.gov, Edmunds.com and nonprofit group Money Management International.
“While the individual benefits from any one of these actions is just a few percent, the overall benefits from all actions could be significant,” reminds a research report from Energy and Environment Analysis Inc.

Help your businesses
• Plan out your deliveries and group them in the same area for the same days.
• Do your homework – your competitors might be passing along the higher cost of gas to customers; should you charge a fuel surcharge to help manage the rise in costs?
• Use accounting software to manage your cash flow and to easily monitor how much the rise in fuel is really costing your business.
• Ask your accountant if there are tax benefits to getting new, more fuel-efficient vehicles. This might be a great way to get some lower tax provisions while upgrading your company vehicles.
• Make sure you are tracking your transportation costs correctly and communicate these costs to your accountant.
• Maintain your vehicles – under-inflated tires, misalignment, dirty filters and dirty oil can decrease gas mileage.
• Consider having your customers pick up orders rather than shipping orders to them.
• Make sure your drivers use GPS to find the shortest, most direct routes.
• Change your hours of delivery so that you aren’t sitting in rush-hour traffic burning gas.
Source: Connie Certusi of Sage Small Business Accounting

Adjust habits
• Plan trips in advance. Consolidate trips. Carpool when possible.
• Don’t mash your gas pedal. Don’t do race-car starts at traffic lights. If you slow your 0-to-60-mph acceleration time down from 10 seconds to a more normal city pace of 15 seconds, you’ll feel the savings immediately.
• Relax any aggressive driving tendencies. Go slower and brake less frequently.
• Keep engine below 2,500 rpm on the highway or between 60 and 65 mph. Exceeding the speed limit by 5 mph can result in an average fuel economy loss of 6 percent.
• Use cruise control when it’s safe, except if you are in a mountainous area or when roads are wet.
• Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked. Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use.
• Avoid stop-and-go traffic. Constant accelerating and braking can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent when driving at highway speeds and by 5 percent when cruising around town.
• Use overdrive gears.
• Edmunds.com tested out AC usage and didn’t find a significant difference when its drivers used the AC with the windows up and then turned off the AC and rolled down the windows.

Maintain your vehicle
• Make sure the air filter is clean.
• Make sure the tires are properly inflated.
• Make sure your tires are the proper size for your vehicle. Too large or too small and you will sacrifice mpg.
• Run a fuel injection cleaner or get a fuel cleaning process done.
• Make sure your fuel filter is clean. Some vehicles have them, others don’t.
• Change the oil regularly. Make sure you are using the correct weight. Thicker oil than you need will cost you in mpg.
• Get a tuneup. Change the spark plugs.
• Check tire alignment.
• Remove extra weight from the vehicle. Heavy speakers or extra stuff in the trunk makes your vehicle heavier.

Be a smart gas buyer
• Check the vehicle’s owner’s manual for what octane gas the vehicle uses. You might be using a lower octane than required and may need to use mid-grade or premium.
• Fill up with ethanol-free gas when possible. Tom’s Automotive said it fixes a lot of problems related to ethanol in gas.
• ConsumerReports.org debunked the myth that you’ll get better gas mileage if you fill up in the morning versus later in the day. The group’s test found that even if the fuel’s temperature increased 15 percent, it resulted in a minor 1 percent increase in volume – not enough to change your fueling habits.
• Don’t let your gas tank fall below a quarter of a tank too often. You run the risk of damaging your fuel pump.