Have you filled up your car lately and cringed to see how much a tank of gas sets you back? The average cost of a gallon of unleaded gas has climbed above $3, with predictions that international unrest may drive prices even higher. We still have to drive to work and/or school, so we look for ways to squeeze more miles out of that pricey tank - but do those tricks you hear about amount to real savings? Here are six gas saving tips that don't actually work, and ways you can make the most of a gallon. (For a related reading, check out Ways To Save Money At The Pump.)

IN PICTURES: Top 5 Money-Saving Tips For Your Car

Turning Off the AC

Air conditioning in your home does a number on your electric bill, so it must drain your gas tank too, right? Not so much. Auto testing at Consumer Reports proves that running the AC uses such a nominal amount more in gas, you may as well turn on the AC and be comfortable on a hot day. Rolling down your windows can add drag, zapping your car's efficiency; for best gas mileage, run the fan and keep your windows rolled up.

Filling Up When It's Cold Outside
Get your gas in the evening or early morning - the fuel is cold, and therefore denser. The truth about this myth is that you can barely register a temperature difference, since gas is stored in cool underground tanks, so fill up when you want. There are no savings to be had by waiting until it's cool out.

IN PICTURES: 5 Ways To Buy A Used Car

Increasing Tire Pressure

To get the most out of your gallon of gas, you should pump up those tires, some say. While driving on underinflated tires can cost you 3.75% in fuel economy, overinflating tires can be downright dangerous, since it reduces your grip on the road and could cause an accident. Proper tire inflation is important for safety and longevity of your tires, but don't expect any significant gas savings there.

Pouring Additives

Where there's a need, there's a product, but that doesn't mean it actually works. Our desire for better fuel economy seems answered by fuel additives and even bolt-on devices - but they're a complete waste of money according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Changing the Air Filter
Taking care of your care is a good thing: you'll be able to drive it longer, and get the most of your money. Don't expect maintenance like changing the air filter to get you more miles out of the gas tank, though: Consumer Reports tests have shown that with today's computerized cars, clogged air filters don't actually reduce fuel economy. Take care of your car to make it last, but don't look at air filters to reduce your gas expense. (To learn more, see Getting A Grip On The Cost Of Gas.)

Keeping the Engine Running
Starting a car sucks up fuel, some say, so keep the engine idling when possible. That's bad advice: today's fuel-injected vehicles are efficient and don't waste gas during start-ups anymore. In fact, idling can cost you up to half a gallon of gas an hour, so turn off the engine if you're not going anywhere.

The Bottom Line
There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to saving gas. So what does actually help improve your fuel economy? Instead of looking at your car to improve fuel economy, try changing the way you drive. Calm driving on the highway - not zipping between lanes, tailgating or revving the engine so you quickly get up to speed - can improve your fuel efficiency a whopping 33%. Remove any excess weight from your car to bump fuel economy another 2%, and drive sixty miles an hour (when the speed limit allows) on the highway for another 23% improvement in fuel efficiency. In the end, best fuel economy comes from a calm and safe driver, something that's a good thing regardless of the price we pay at the pump. (For more, see The Top 5 Money-Saving Tips For Your Car.)

Related Articles
  1. Entrepreneurship

    How an Internet Sales Tax Will Affect Your Small Business

    Learn about how the Marketplace Fairness Act may impact small business owners should it pass in the House and what the act requires from business owners.
  2. Retirement

    4 Ways to Boost the Amount You Save for Retirement

    Retirement can easily last more than twenty years, which means you have to save a lot. Thankfully, there are ways to enhance the amount you put away.
  3. Savings

    Craft Beer Clubs – Bargain or Not?

    If you're an aficionado of artisanal brews (or would like to be), a beer club can be a palate-pleasing, albeit pricey, way to expand your hops horizon.
  4. Credit & Loans

    Adjustable Rate Mortgage: What Happens When Interest Rates Go Up

    Adjustable rate mortgages can save borrowers money, but they can't go into it blind. In order to benefit from an ARM, you have to understand how it works.
  5. Retirement

    How to Stretch Your Retirement Savings

    What does "nest egg" mean for your personal situation? Will you deplete it, or will you nurture it to generate income that lasts throughout retirement?
  6. Stock Analysis

    When Will Dick's Sporting Goods Bounce Back? (DKS)

    Is DKS a bargain here?
  7. Stock Analysis

    Has Urban Outfitters Lost its Way? (URBN)

    Urban Outfitters just made a bold move. Will it pay off?
  8. Stock Analysis

    Is Walmart's Rally Sustainable? (WMT)

    Walmart is enjoying a short-term rally. Is it sustainable? Is Amazon still a better bet?
  9. Savings

    Are Wine Clubs Worth It?

    Some points to consider, before committing to a membership for yourself – or as a gift. The right club can also help you save money over the holidays.
  10. Stock Analysis

    Kohl's: Should You Stock Up or Sell? (KSS)

    Many traders are bearish on Kohl's, but long-term investors might want to take a closer look for this simple reason.
  1. Where can you buy NetSpend reload packs?

    You can only purchase NetSpend reload packs at Giant Eagle, Albertsons, Roundy's and Pathmark supermarkets. NetSpend cards ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does marginal utility tell us about consumer choice?

    In microeconomics, utility represents a way to relate the amount of goods consumed to the amount of happiness or satisfaction ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR ...

    An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company that manufactures a basic product or a component product, such as a ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  2. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  3. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  4. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
  5. Indemnity

    Indemnity is compensation for damages or loss. Indemnity in the legal sense may also refer to an exemption from liability ...
  6. Discount Bond

    A bond that is issued for less than its par (or face) value, or a bond currently trading for less than its par value in the ...
Trading Center