Michigan — The meter at the gas pump seems to be spinning faster these days, and US fuel prices hit another record Tuesday.
The average price of regular unleaded gasoline reached $4.37 per gallon ($1.15 per liter), according to industry expert association AAA. That is 17 cents per gallon more than last week. At this time last year it was $2.97 per gallon ($0.78 per liter).
Crude oil prices were already high in large part because many countries are refusing to buy Russian oil because of the invasion of Ukraine. And now another busy season begins in the United States and the demand is up.
That means putting 15 gallons (57 liters) into a vehicle now costs a staggering $65.55. Four full tanks a month would cost more than $260, a huge slice of almost anyone’s budget.
With gas prices this high, drivers might consider trading in their older vehicles for more efficient ones. But that might not be profitable. The global shortage of chips and other auto parts has hit production of new vehicles, driving up prices. For this reason, many people turned to the used car market, which also increased prices.
The average used vehicle cost $31,218 last month in the United States. The average of a new one? Depending on the site edmunds.com: $45,341.
In general, electric vehicles are even more expensive than their fuel equivalents, although charging the battery is usually much cheaper.
Not everything is lost. You can take steps to make your car, bus, or SUV perform better, go further, and possibly save some money on gas:
one. Make sure the tires have enough air
Underinflated tires create more rolling resistance on pavement, thus reducing mileage.
Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure (you can see it on a plate located inside the driver’s door). Check them periodically with a tire pressure gauge.
“Commonly, your fuel consumption will be affected by 5% or 10% if they are not inflated correctly”said David Bennettrepair systems manager at AAA.
But don’t over-inflate them. Doing so could wear out the tires faster.
2. Carry out proper maintenance on your vehicle
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for changing oil and other fluids, and replacing air and other filters. It also helps to replace spark plugs at the proper times.
“The vehicle will operate at its best performance” with good maintenanceBennett noted.
It will cost between $235 and $289 to change the spark plugs on, say, a 10-year-old Ford F-150 pickup with a 4.6-liter V8 engine, according to Repairpal.com.
3. Watch your speed
The AAA says that fuel economy is best at about 50 miles per hour (mph) in most vehicles, then declines with increasing speed.
Reducing speed on highways between 5 mph and 10 mph improves performance by up to 14%.
4. Plan your route in advance
Avoid having to go back. Multitask in one trip. Avoid rush hours and other times of high traffic.
5. Don’t let the engine run without going too long
An engine consumes between a quart and a half gallon (1.9 liters) of gasoline per hour when the engine is idling, but a hot engine only needs about 10 seconds of fuel to restart, according to AAA.
So when it’s safe, turn off your engine if you’ll be standing for more than a minute. Many vehicles do this automatically. Bennett says owners shouldn’t disable their new stop-start system.
6. Slow down when approaching red lights to avoid braking
Calculate the distance and speed to avoid stopping completely. Cars consume a lot of fuel to start moving again when they are completely stopped.