Cut your costs at the gas pump
5 Tips: From parking in the shade to using cruise control, here are some things you can do keep your gas bill down this summer.
By Gerri Willis, contributing columnist

NEW YORK ( - Taking a road-trip this summer is going to be more expensive than ever, thanks to rising gas prices. But don't let that stop you from hitting the road.

Five Tips is here to tell you how to cut those costs when you're behind the wheel.

1. How much will it hurt?

The Department of Energy estimates you'll be paying at least $.25 cents more per gallon this summer. But that is a very conservative number according to experts.

"You'll see gas at $3.00 a gallon in some places like California and Chicago," says Jim Kliesch of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Already we've seen the price of gas soar $0.33 in a month. And we haven't even hit the peak summer season, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. If you want to get a more detailed estimate of just how much that trip to Grandma's is going to cost you, check out AAA's fuel cost calculator at

2. Think shade

Park your car in the shade whenever possible. The same sun that is steaming up your steering wheel is also stealing fuel from your gas tank. It's called evaporative emissions and it's common in cars that are older than five years old, according to Kliesch.

Keeping your car in the shade also helps to keep your car at the same temperature so you don't have to crank up the air conditioning when you're ready to leave. If you have a garage you can use, that's an even better option.

3. Forget the bling

It may look cool, but spoilers can spell disaster if you're looking to conserve fuel. Spoilers may be marketed to give you that extra stability and handling, but according to Karl Brauer of, they have virtually no aerodynamic benefit. In fact, spoilers can have a very negative impact on fuel conservation.

You may also want to rethink installing that 50 inch subwoofer in your car. Anything that makes your car heavier will make your gas tab more expensive.

And finally, leave off the larger tires. The larger the tire, the more gas it takes to accelerate and stop the car.

4. Keep your cruising to the highways

Cruise control can be oh so tempting. Especially when you have a stretch of nothing but highway. And it can also be good for your wallet. If you're able to maintain a steady speed for some time, using cruise control can improve your gas mileage.

However, if you're driving in hilly terrain, you'll get less bang for your buck, according to Using cruise control causes your vehicle to speed up faster to maintain the preset speed. You'll save much more gas by using the gas pedal yourself.

5. Be smart, the next time around

If you're looking to get the most fuel efficient vehicle, you really have to look at the miles per gallon. Stay away from gas guzzlers. These are vehicles that get less than 20 miles per gallon.

The most efficient vehicles (without going hybrid) can get about 35 miles per gallon. And even getting a few more mpg's out of a car can really impact your finances. Buying a car that gets 10 more miles to the gallon could save you $550 per year, according to AOL's Save the Planet Web site. That means nearly $3,000 of gas savings over 5 years.

The cost savings of hybrid cars have been under scrutiny lately. Consumer Reports estimates that, excluding the tax break you get for buying a hybrid car, it could take you 21 and a half years in gas savings to pay back the extra money you laid out for a hybrid car.

To check the best ratings of fuel efficient cars, you can go to And for more information on getting the most out of your gas tank, check out or


Gerri Willis is a personal finance editor for CNN Business News and the host for Open House. Send your questions, your comments and your own ideas to us at 5tips@cnn.comTop of page

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