Save at the Pump

Remember how easy it used to be to jump in the car and head off to the mall, the lake, or the beach? Alas, road trips have become a lot less spontaneous at $50 or more per fill-up. If you’d like to get more miles from every gallon of gas, consider these ideas:

gas.jpg1. Seek the best deals. Before you head out, check online to see current prices at local gas stations. If you have a smartphone, even better: there are lots of apps to help you fuel up for less, including AAA's free TripTik Mobile app for the iPhone. But don't drive way out of your way-5¢ saved per gallon is only 75¢ on a 15-gallon fill-up.

2. Avoid heavy traffic.
Stop-start driving really reduces your mileage. Use a road atlas to plot less-congested routes ahead of time. On the road, Google Maps (preinstalled on many smartphones) offers real-time color-coded maps of traffic snarls in Concord, Boston, Springfield, Hartford, and other major cities. Google Maps Navigation, a GPS system with voice guidance, can even suggest alternate routes to avoid a jam.

3. Don't stop for tolls. A monthly E-ZPass subscription will keep you from having to idle in long lines at more than 40 toll roads, bridges, and tunnels in the eastern U.S. With a personal E-ZPass plan, you buy an electronic tag for $25 to $30, then prepay your account. Tolls are automatically deducted, saving you gas and time (and having to fumble for the right change). To subscribe, search online for "E-ZPass" and your state.

4. But do slow down.
You've probably heard that speeding uses more gas. How much? If you drive at 70 mph instead of 60, it's like tossing 50¢ out of the window with every gallon you burn, according to

5. Stay tuned. Underinflated tires can shrink your mileage by as much as 3.3%, wasting nearly $2 of a $60 fill-up. (With more rubber on the road, softer tires need a stronger push to keep rolling.) Check your car's manual or the door jamb for the recommended pressure, and buy an inexpensive gauge so you can keep your tires properly inflated. Also, at your car's next tune-up, consider asking for "energy conserving" motor oil with extra friction-reducing additives. It's said to improve fuel economy by 1% to 2%.

6. Lighten up
. Still carrying around heavy bags of kitty litter for winter traction? Jettison them. According to, losing 100 pounds can improve your car's mileage by 2%, saving you 4¢ to 8¢ on every gallon.

7. Look for alternatives to driving. If your summer plans include air travel, taking a bus can give you access to cheaper flights. For example, Concord Coach drops Maine and New Hampshire traveler's right at Boston Logan. Zippy bus lines (BoltBus, MegaBus) traverse the Northeast Corridor, offering ultra-low prices plus such niceties as free Wi-Fi.

If these tips don't make a dent in your car's gas guzzling, stop in and see us. PCFCU members benefit from low interest rates on loans for more fuel-efficient new and used vehicles-which may be a good investment for families that intend to go places.