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Four ways to get the most from your next tank of gas

Man refilling the car with fuel on a filling station
Posted at 3:18 PM, May 21, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Although gas prices have stabilized since the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, they're still expected to be high as more people start traveling again this summer.

To help you save some money at the pump, Consumer Reports has some recommendations.

First, be mindful of how you're driving.

"The best way to improve your fuel economy is to improve how you drive," said Jeff Bartlett, Deputy Auto Editor at Consumer Reports. "It's a real superpower to drive smoothly and obey the speed limit. Those two simple tips can make any car more fuel efficient."

To put that into perspective, Consumer Reports says going from 55 mph to 75 mph is like going from a compact car to a large SUV.

If it's bearable, they also suggest putting the window down instead of using AC.

Turning on the air conditioning can cost you 1-4 miles per gallon.

If you're packing for a trip, adding roof racks and bike racks will have a big impact.

"The key factor in fuel economy is aerodynamics and certainly if you put something on the roof or bike rack on the back it's going to disrupt the aerodynamics, and there's a pretty large fuel economy penalty to be paid," said Bartlett.

The difference can be 5 -13 mpg depending on the car and type of rack.

"Now, certainly, we encourage people to get out and have a good time, but we'd recommend when you're at your location or at home during the week, if you don't need the rack, take it off. Even an empty bike rack can hurt," said Bartlett.

One more way to save could be shifting from premium to regular gas, but you have to make sure your car can handle the change.

"The key in choosing your gasoline is to follow the instructions that come with the car. Simply open the fuel filler door and it will say what is required there," said Bartlett.

Related: Local car care expert weighs in on tips to conserve fuel

If it says "premium required," you're going to have to pay extra and fill up with premium.

Cars that say "premium recommended," though, can choose from regular, mid grade or premium.