Seven Ways to Spend Less on Gas in 2012

personal finance

Gas isn’t going to get cheaper

According to CNBC, the average American household spent $4,155 filling up their gas tanks this year. That is 8.4% of the annual median household income, the highest percentage since 1981. If you’re hoping for some reprieve in 2012, don’t bank on it. In 2011, gas has seen an average price of $3.50 per gallon and experts are forecasting an average price of $3.53 per gallon in 2012.

If you can’t do anything about the price of gas, you’ll have to change your own driving habits in order to save money on gas this year. Here are a few reminders as you enter 2012.

Even Out Your Driving

Your car requires the most fuel when you’re accelerating and especially when you accelerating rapidly. Less rapid accelerating and braking makes your vehicle more fuel efficient.

Minimize the AC

Your air conditioner draws a lot of power and not using it saves gas. If you live in an area where keeping the AC off is impractical, part your car in the shade and use a windshield cover.

Turn Your Car Off

The magic number is 20 seconds according to car experts. If your car will idle for more than 20 seconds, turn it off to save gas. Practically speaking, you may move the number up to 1 minute but less time your car runs the more gas you save. Every little bit adds up over the course of a year.

Slow Down

If you have a lead foot, you probably won’t be quick to take this advice but it’s true that when you drive faster you’re going to use more fuel. The difference between 60mph and 65mph isn’t significant but 65 to 80 can add up over time.

Pump em’ up

When your tires are low on air, more of the tire makes contact with the road increasing friction. Increased friction requires more fuel. Some experts recommend pumping your tires .2psi above the recommended pressure.

Don’t Fill Up

Gasoline is heavy and the heavier your car, the more fuel it will take to set that weight in to motion. If you are commuting around town, aim for a half tank. Gas prices trump this rule. If gas is unusually low in price, fill up your tank while you can get a great price.

Don’t Go to the First Station

So you were on a long stretch of road with no gas station and finally you enter a town where you can fill up. The first station you see may be the highest price. Drive a little further and see if the next station is cheaper. Don’t fill up at a gas station is visible from the interstate either. Drive a little further and see if a station deeper in to the town has a better price.

Bottom Line

Gas isn’t getting any cheaper and experts don’t believe 2012 will give consumers any relief. If you can, drive less but if not, remember that little changes add up over time.