Fast Lane: Avoid the pinch at the pump: Tips to help you save on gas

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118115257410327.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘Among the seven tips offered to help you save at the pump, Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, suggests drivers keep their cars properly maintained by getting scheduled oil changes and tune-ups.‘);

Cost of traveling to increase 3.7 percent over last year

&s-bul; Drivers can save money on record-high gas prices by changing their regular habits.

PHOENIX—Drivers nationwide are feeling the pinch at the pumps. As record-high gas prices set in across the country, the pinch isn’t likely to lighten during the peak driving season, according to Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national non-profit credit counseling agency.

“Now that $3 a gallon—or more—is the norm in many parts of the nation, consumers are feeling the financial strain, whether they’re planning a summer getaway or just trying to get to work,” he said.

According to a recently-released survey from AAA, traveling this summer will be more expensive than last—and not just at the gas pumps. Combined, lodging and restaurants are expected to be about 3.7 percent more expensive than last year.

If you are one of the millions planning to hit the road this summer, Sullivan offers the following seven tips to help you save:

Keep vehicle properly maintained—Get regular tune-ups and vehicle maintenance checks to improve gas mileage. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, drivers who follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations should avoid fuel economy problems because of worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid or the transmission not going into high gear.

Check tires—Check your tire pressure regularly to be sure they are inflated in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. AAA says properly inflated tires can increase gas mileage as much as 2 percent.

Combine trips—Let your daily or weekly errands accumulate until you can complete them in a single trip. In addition to saving gas, you will reduce wear and tear on your car.

Lighten the load—Remove heavy objects from your vehicle. The heavier the vehicle, the more gas it expends.

Drive gently—An easy touch on the accelerator and slower speeds will also save on gas.

Do your homework—Check around for the cheapest gas in your area. Prices can vary up to 20 cents per gallon from block to block. Web sites such as provide users with a list of the cheapest gas stations by ZIP code.

Avoid peak driving times—If possible, adjust your work or school hours to avoid peak traffic times at rush hour. This may involve coming into the office an hour later and leaving an hour early, or vice versa. This way, you can get to your destination sooner with fewer stops and idle time.

Find alternative modes of transportation—Carpool or use public transportation whenever possible. This can include trips to work, school, sports practice or a night on the town. You should also consider walking or cycling to nearby locations.

Take Charge America

Founded in 1987, Take Charge America (TCA), Inc., is a non-profit organization with headquarters in Phoenix. TCA offers a variety of services, including financial education, credit counseling and debt management. To learn more about TCA or its programs, call 1-800-823-7396 or visit

from the June 6-12, 2007, issue

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