Tips to save on fuel as gas prices soar

California’s gas prices have people looking for ways to save at the pump. The average price per gallon in the Los Angeles area hit $5.65 Wednesday - eight cents higher than the state average.

Fuel efficiency is top of mind at mechanic shops across the Southland.

"Just the everyday customer is very worried about where the gas prices are going," said Carey Lutz, General Manager of Tire Man in Thousand Oaks.

Lutz says having the right tire pressure, checking your oil and using 87 octane instead of 91 octane fuel are three easy ways people can make sure they are running more efficiently.

"Sometimes you’ll get a little bit of pinging when you step on the gas when you start going hard on it," said Lutz, "but most people aren’t stepping on it with the cost of fuel."


Lutz adds if your car does require premium, using unleaded for 1-2 months then cycling back will not be detrimental to the engine.

The Consumer Federation of America offers 10 tips to save on gas as well:

Have a light foot: Riding with your foot on the brake not only wears out brakes but can also reduce gas consumption by as much as 35%. If you kick the habit of driving with your foot on the brake, you’ll get the equivalent of $1.42 per gallon in savings.

Smooth acceleration: The smoother you accelerate and decelerate, the better your gas mileage, with potential gas savings of 33% on the highway and 5% around town. Consumers who currently drive erratically can pocket the equivalent of 89 cents a gallon by driving more smoothly.

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Alignment: Poor alignment not only causes tires to wear out more quickly but also forces your engine to work harder, which can reduce gas mileage by as much as 10%. Fixing improper alignment would be like saving 40 cents per gallon.

Take it slow: For every 5 mph you reduce highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by 7%. If you typically drive 70 mph on the highway and slow down to 65 mph, it’s the equivalent of saving 30 cents a gallon.

Get a tune-up: A properly tuned engine can improve mileage by 4%, which is like saving 16 cents a gallon.

Tire pressure: More than one-quarter of vehicles have improperly inflated tires. The average under-inflation of 7.5 lbs. causes a loss of 2.8% in fuel efficiency. Properly inflating underinflated tires is like knocking 11 cents off a gallon of gas.

Travel light: For every 100 extra pounds carried around, your vehicle loses 1-2% in fuel efficiency. For every 100 lbs you unload, you’re saving the equivalent of 8 cents per gallon.

Use the correct oil: You can stretch your gas mileage by 1%-2% by using the thinnest viscosity motor oil recommended by your car’s manufacturer. For example, adding 10W-30 motor oil in an engine that is designed to use 5W-30 can lessen your gas mileage by 1%-2%, saving the equivalent of 6 cents per gallon.

Avoid idling: If stopped off the road for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine. Don’t "warm up" your car before driving — it is not necessary. For every two minutes that you don’t idle, you’ll save the equivalent of nearly 3 cents per gallon.

Check your gas cap: It is estimated that nearly 17% of cars on the road have broken or missing gas caps, which reduce gas mileage as well as possibly harming the environment.  Fixing or replacing a faulty gas cap is like saving 3 cents per gallon.

CFA estimates that if Americans practiced these tips, gas mileage could be improved by about 13 percent. 

Experts add there are plenty of gas rewards programs to look into as well. Ralphs, for example, has a fuel point program where customers can earn dollars off their tab at the pump. 

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