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7 Gas-Saving Secrets

Memorial Day weekend kicks off summertime road trips, but escalating gas prices can leave us feeling stranded. So before you hit the open road, consider these gas-saving tips.

Drive With Windows Down

Pop quiz: Should you roll down the windows or turn on the air conditioning to save gas? It’s a hot debate, but according to Gasbuddy.com, driving on the highway at 55 mph or more with the windows down can lower fuel efficiency by at least 20% due to the drag created by the open window. Consumer Reports found using the AC only drops fuel efficiency by about 10%. But if you’re traveling at slower speeds in stop-and-go traffic, windows down is most fuel-efficient. Forty miles per hour is a good benchmark when choosing between windows down and air conditioning.

Special Thanks To Shell for making this video possible.

Fill Tires to Recommended Pressure

Your tires can also impact mileage and the quickest and easiest way to increase fuel efficiency is to inflate them to the recommended pressure.

Also See: 5 Signs You May Be Broke in 10 Years

“We did a test here at Edmunds a couple years ago with our own employees and found that we were probably losing about $112 a year in fuel economy because of driving on under inflated tires,” says Carroll Lachnit, features editor at Edmunds.com.

Unleaded Will Ruin Car if Manual Requires Premium

Here’s another question: if your car’s manual calls for premium gas but you fill it with regular, which is often cheaper, will regular ruin the engine? Edmunds.com says if your manual calls for “premium required,” you’ll need to shell out the extra cash. But if the manual says, “premium recommended,” then regular unleaded is a safe bet from time to time.

Rewards Programs Reduce Gas Costs

Don’t forget to get rewarded while filling up, too. Rewards programs like Shell’s free Fuel Rewards Network gives drivers up to10 cents off per gallon for every $50 spent at qualifying stores and restaurants. Some supermarkets with affiliated gas stations offer fuel perks when you spend, as well. And one easy way to rack up points is buying gift cards for places your frequently shop.

Also See: Extreme Travel Savings

Don’t Worry About Excess Weight

While we often hear that the extra cargo in the trunk uses up gas, lightening your load isn’t the best way always to maximize fuel efficiency. “Unless you’re carrying around concrete blocks or bags of cement, your car’s not that much heavier,” Lachnit says. “You carry passengers, don’t you? Are you going to, like, refuse to carry people in your car in the name of saving gasoline? That doesn’t make sense.”

Drive Calm, Boost Fuel-Efficiency By 35%

A better tip? Drive calmly, resist the temptation to change lanes erratically and don’t break suddenly. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every 5 mph driven over 50 mph, costs about 25 cents more per gallon.

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Hybrids Aren’t Always Cheaper

Finally, don’t be quick to assume that a hybrid will necessarily save you money. Edmunds.com has an online gas-guzzler calculator that’ll compare the true cost and savings of upgrading your vehicle.

“If I traded in my relatively new car, which gets 22 mpg combined, meaning on city and highway, for a super-fuel-efficient hybrid car like the Chevrolet Volt, I would save $133/month in gasoline,” Lachnit estimates. “But it would take me 23 years to pay back, just with my gasoline savings, the cost of buying that new car.”

We want to hear your best gas-saving tips. Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit.