Exposing gas mileage savings myths

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Gas prices are dropping this summer and that equals savings for drivers. 41NBC’s Amanda Castro spoke to auto experts to expose some common fuel mileage savings myths and find out how you can get the most out of a tank of gas.

Many families are hitting the road this summer and soaking up their last vacations before the season ends. According to AAA, gas prices are almost a dollar lower than they were this time last year. Don’t press the pedal just yet! There are more ways you can save at the pump, but don’t be fooled by some common gas mileage myths.

One myth is running your air conditioner will waste gas.

"Crank the AC. You’re not going to kill any more fuel mileage,” Jeff Head with Fountain Car Wash said.

Head runs the lube shop at Fountain Car Wash in Macon. He says drivers can stay cool during this hot Georgia summer. But Bruce D. Cabral Jr. with Riverside Ford in Macon says it depends on the vehicle.

“Some people are going to find that they do gain fuel mileage not using their air conditioner. Others, they’re going to experience a loss in mileage,” Cabral said. “The customer is going to have to learn about their car and experiment more or less, try it."

Another common myth is leaving a truck tailgate down will help with gas mileage. Both Head and Cabral say no.

"They designed it so the air flows over the truck and not over, down, and circling around and hang out in the tailgate,’ Head said. "So it’s not really helping or hindering to leave the tailgate up or down."

"It literally creates more aerodynamic drag than with it up,” Cabral said.

How about adding additives to your gas?

"They’re not as efficient as they’re made to be to get you better fuel mileage, no,” Head said.

But Cabral says there are cleaners on the market that can help.

"If you use it regularly and you keep the build up down in your fuel injectors… we can reduce that and maintain that like new fuel mileage,” Cabral said.

Does speed affect gas mileage?

“Yes, you get better fuel mileage at 50 miles an hour than you do at 80 miles an hour,” Head said.

You can save money by slowing down. The faster you drive, the more each gallon of gas costs you.

Castro put it to the test. A gallon of gas costs $2.59 on the day she filled up. According to www.fueleconomy.gov, that price won’t change if she drives 50 miles per hour. But every five miles faster than that, it is like paying an additional 18 cents per gallon. At 75 miles per hour, she is now paying $3.70 for the same gallon of gas. If she fills up once a week at the same price and does not drive faster than 50 miles per hour, she could save almost $700 a year.

"The faster you drive, the more fuel you’re going to burn,” Cabral said.

What can drivers do to get good gas mileage? Auto experts say it comes down to two factors: keeping up with your car’s maintenance and changing the way you drive.

"If you don’t do one, the other doesn’t pay off and vice versa,” Cabral said.

Head tells 41NBC you want to stay up to date with your oil changes, keep your air filters clean, and replace fuel filters as necessary.

"Fuel filters its recommended once a year or every 25 to 30,000 miles. Air filters kind of interval as needed,” Head said.

Don’t forget to check your tire pressure.

"If we inflate the tires properly, it rolls as easy as it can therefore taking some of the load off of the engine and saving fuel,” Cabral said.

Changing how you drive can also help your fuel mileage. Auto experts warn drivers not to hit the brake or accelerator too quickly. Instead, slowly press the pedals.

"You get better fuel mileage if you accelerate smoothly to 50 miles per hour instead of trying to get there in two and a half seconds,” Head said.

Don’t let your car sit still while it’s running.

"If you’re going to let your vehicle idle, you’re wasting fuel, you’re adding wear to your vehicle,” Cabral said. “Bottom line is more than anything: money and it’s just going out the tailpipe at that point."

Cabral tells 41NBC you can’t really determine how much money you’ll save using these tips because every driver is different. He adds it may take a little extra work and change on your part, but he believes it is worth it in the long run.

"Not only are they going to save fuel mileage, they’re going to increase the life of their car,” Cabral said.

Another way to save on fuel mileage is to get rid of any excess weight in your car and use cruise control. Click here for more gas mileage tips.