7 Ways to Drive Down Gas Costs

Gasoline is infuriating. We all depend on it, yet the price can spike without warning--making it more challenging to afford treats for the kids or a sitter for date night. The good news: By changing the way you drive and care for your car, you can save at least $300 every year. Try these moves.

Woman pumping gas
Photo: Getty Images
01 of 08

Baby Your Car

Woman driving
Veer

Being gentle on the pedals instead of flooring the accelerator as soon as the light turns green and muscling the brakes will cut back on the fuel you burn.

Savings: $50

02 of 08

Stay Within the Speed Limit

Speed limit sign
Veer

Most vehicles are designed for optimal fuel efficiency at 50 to 60 MPH. The average mileage drops sharply once the dial hits 70.

Savings: $30

03 of 08

Use Cruise Control During Highway Drives.

Car highway
Marty Baldwin

Face facts: Computers control the throttle more precisely than even the smoothest human can.

Savings: $25

04 of 08

Turn Off the Ignition When You're Parked

Key ignition
Veer

Hybrids boost mileage in part by shutting down the gas engine when a car is idling. You can do the same in the school pickup line or in the driveway while you're waiting for your family to buckle up.

Savings: $30

05 of 08

Keep Your Car in Tune

Car mechanic
Veer

Mileage can deteriorate over time if the filters clog, sensors misfire, or fluids get sludgy. Regular maintenance will keep everything humming.

Savings: $100

06 of 08

Lose the Dead Weight

family road trip
Steven Vote

The portable crib or hockey gear you store in the trunk makes the engine work a bit harder. And leaving your roof rack mounted year-round (instead of just at those rare times when you actually use it) interferes with the vehicle's aerodynamic profile, reducing mileage.

Savings: $40

07 of 08

Check Your Tires

Car tires
Carl Voss

Keeping them inflated to the recommended pressure (look for the sticker pasted on the driver's doorjamb) will reduce drag significantly.

Savings: $45

08 of 08

Fill Up for Less

Woman pumping gas
Getty Images

-Grocery chains such as Kroger, Giant Foods, and Stop & Shop offer loyalty-club discounts of 10 to 30 cents per gallon for every $100 spent. A family with large food bills can easily save $50 per year.

-Mobile apps such as GasBuddy (free for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android, and Windows) and Fuel Finder ($3 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch) locate the lowest prices in your area; these are especially helpful if you?re on vacation or visiting relatives.

- The wholesale clubs Costco, Sam's, and BJ's often discount gas at their stations by up to 10 cents per gallon for members.

Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Parents magazine.

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