As gas prices rise, more and more people are looking for ways to save a little at the pump.
As of June 19, the price of a gallon of gas has reached $3.05 on Long Island, according to AAA — well past the highwater mark for many feeling pain at the pump.
A March survey by AAA found that 25 percent of drivers nationwide said they would feel a pinch when gas was $2.75 per gallon, with another 40 percent saying they would have to reduce unnecessary driving if gas hit $3 per gallon, such as eliminating summer vacations.
“A significant amount of the population does not have the elasticity in their budget to deal with what they consider expensive gasoline, and that’s $3 a gallon,” AAA New York & New Jersey’s manager of media relations Robert Sinclair Jr. said. “I’m really worried that there’s a lot of folks struggling.”
AAA still expects 78 percent of Americans to take a summer vacation, and Sinclair recommended plotting out cheaper gas stations before taking a trip, as well as using the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
“Families across the country tend to have two vehicles: a big, heavy, thirsty pickup trick or SUV, or a smaller, lighter fuel-efficient vehicle, and we’re seeing more people using the smaller, lighter more fuel-efficient vehicle, even though it’s smaller and more cramped and definitely not as comfortable as the big vehicle,” he said.
According to Sinclair, there are some easy steps to try and make sure your vehicle is as fuel efficient as possible.
First, make sure your tires are inflated properly.
“For every pound per square inch that your tires are underinflated you lose about 1 percent of your fuel economy – and that’s per tire,” Sinclair said.
Secondly, according to Sinclair, make sure your vehicle maintenance is up to date.
“We don’t call them tune ups any more with modern engines, but there are things that must be done, timing, sparkplugs, those kinds of things, whatever the manufacturer recommends as far as a service interval is concerned, you should certainly follow it,” he said.
Lastly, if you’re carting around unnecessary weight in your car, leave it at home.
There are also ways to use gasoline more efficiently, such as keeping speed down on the highway, Sinclair said.
“The most important driving style change you have to make if you’re driving on the highway is to lower your speed,” he said. “The Department of Energy says that for every 5 miles per hour a vehicle travels over 50 miles per hour, it’s equivalent to adding 18 cents to every gallon of gasoline, since the automobile’s engine has to work harder.”
As for air conditioning, Sinclair says you’re safe using it at certain times, like when you’re on the highway due to the car’s aerodynamics, but you can opt for windows at lower speeds.
And then there are some secrets to remember when filling up as well, such as finding the right gas station.
Sinclair said drivers should avoid stations on or near the highway, since they are priced knowing drivers traveling need to fill up nearby. He also said gas tends to be pricier in affluent neighborhoods, and ironically, in poorer neigborhoods.
As for Long Island, New Yorkers pay one of the heftiest taxes on gas in the country. In addition, the island’s increased demand for gas means the region sees some of the highest prices in the state.