April 17, 2006 -- Gas prices are higher than a Texas oil gusher, and the summer driving season -- when prices typically skyrocket -- isn't even here yet. Today's announcement that oil prices have reached $70 a barrel is sending shock waves through the tourism industry and has consumers wondering if that gas guzzler in the driveway is worth keeping.
What can cash-strapped consumers do to fight prices at the pump? Here are a few tips to fill up the tank without breaking the bank:
1. Stay in Tune -- It's simple: vehicle maintenance saves gas. Use the recommended motor oil, replace dirty air filters, keep tires -- including the spare -- inflated to the proper pressure, and tune up your engine.
2. Cool It, Mario Andretti -- Flooring the pedal at every green light, then slamming on the brakes at the last minute, guzzles gas at a surprising rate. More moderate driving can save over 30 percent of the gasoline you use.
3. Lighten Up -- When summer vacation rolls around, keep the luggage off the roof rack and carry as little weight as possible. Those extra pounds in the trunk or backseat make the engine work harder and consume more fuel.
4. Take a Hike -- Do you really need to drive? For shorter trips, it often makes more sense to walk or ride a bicycle. It's not only good for your wallet, it might also be good for your waistline.
5. Idle Hands -- Idling in traffic does nothing to save gas or money, not to mention your stress level. Avoid rush hour or busy commuter routes.
6. Go Shopping -- Shopping for a new vehicle? Consider the long-term savings that a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle might give you. Some cities and states also offer great incentives like rebates, access to carpool lanes and free metered parking for hybrid or alternative fuel cars, trucks and SUVs.
7. Lose the Leadfoot -- Driving the speed limit doesn't just keep the police off your tail. You can save up to 14 percent on longer trips by reducing your speed.
8. Take a Cruise -- Using cruise control can yield surprising increases in fuel economy. If your car is so equipped, try using it on the freeway to keep your speed at a consistent rate.
9. Critical Mass -- Take the bus, train, subway or other mass transit and leave the car at home.
10. Alternative States -- The alternatives to standard gasoline are growing in number and popularity. Biodiesel, the blend of gasoline and ethanol known as E85, and other alternative fuels aren't available everywhere yet, but check to see if your car can accept what's sold in your community.