In general, your car won't feel a difference if you use a lower grade of gas, but your wallet will, she said. However, if you have a high-performance car where the owner's manual says premium gas is required, then you should use only premium, she added. Using a lower grade of gas in these kinds of cars will lead to more engine wear and tear, and that could end up costing you more in the long run than any savings you gained from using the more economical fuel, she said.
Q: One of the best ways to save on gas is to not have a car at all. But there are times you may need a car. You say - why not share a car instead of buying one?
A: We are indeed a car culture. Americans spend an average of 18.5 hours per week in their cars, but pay insurance, parking and gas for 168 hours per week of car ownership, Hobson said. That means that the majority of times for which people have paid to use their cars, those vehicles are sitting idle, she said.
That's where car sharing services such as zipcar come in, she added. The companies allow people in their service area to pay for only the times that they actually need to use the car. For example, if you have access to public transportation and really only need a car for a few hours per week, you could be paying a small hourly amount – starting at around $6.98 – that includes gas, maintenance and insurance, she said. Compare this to the estimated $5,500 that the average car owner ends up spending annually and that's a serious savings with just a little bit of planning, she said.
Also, you don't have to go to the airport to get the car. Cars are usually located conveniently around the city, so you are always near one, she added.
Be aware, though, that these services do generally charge an annual membership -- but most are priced reasonable around the $50 mark, she noted.
Don't use your car as a storage locker. By removing the weight of unnecessary items from your car, you could increase your fuel economy by up to 2 percent.
Keep your tires inflated at the suggested level. Properly inflating your tires can increase your gas mileage up to 3 percent. You can find the proper inflation level on a sticker on your door or glove box, or in the car's owner manual.
Using public transportation not only helps the environment, but it can also save you on your taxes. Many companies allow you to set aside pre-tax money towards public transportation costs. This could mean a nice tax savings for you at the end of the year. Ask your Human Resources department if your company provides this benefit.