Auto Club: The Key to Saving Money is to Save Gas

Conserving Two Gallons Can Make a Difference

(LOS ANGELES, April 14, 2006) — E-mail inboxes have been filling with forwarded messages encouraging motorists to boycott certain brands of gasoline as a response to rising gas prices. The messages claim that consumer backlash against oil producers will force them to lower pump prices. But a reduction of miles driven has proven to be a more effective way of saving money and can help prices to drop, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Statewide, the average price of regular self-serve is $2.91 per gallon, 14 cents below the all-time record high of $3.04 set on Sept. 9, 2005. Los Angeles/Long Beach has an average price of $2.93; Orange County records an average of $2.90; the Inland Empire has an average price of $2.95 and San Diego residents are paying an average of $2.94 per gallon.

"We've seen boycotts encouraged in the past and they have not been successful in moving prices lower," said Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp. "Our prices are high for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that demand for gasoline is higher than last year and refiners haven't been able to keep up."

"Californians use two-million gallons more of fuel every day than we produce in the state. Oil companies have to buy gas from other sources just to keep even with demand," Thorp said. "If every motorist were to save two gallons every week, that would put our demand more in line with our state production."

The average vehicle achieves 22 miles per gallon. A savings of two gallons per week means 44 fewer miles driven weekly. There are about 22 million licensed drivers in California. Conservation by only five percent of them would balance the state's supply and demand.

In recent years, 2002–2005, gasoline prices peaked in March and April. New record high prices were set in each of those seasonal peaks. When record highs were achieved, consumer demand for gas dropped off and prices began to decline.

In addition to supply and demand imbalance, gas prices are rising because of uncertainty about supplies later this spring and because crude oil prices are near an all-time record high of $69.81 per barrel.

The Auto Club recommends the following steps to save on gas:

  • Ride Share. You can reduce miles and cut your fuel expenses by up to 50 percent by sharing commuting expenses with one other person.
  • Plan ahead. Make a list of everywhere you need to go and arrange your route in a circle to save miles.
  • Use an efficient vehicle. Two-car families can save money by using the one vehicle that gets the best fuel efficiency.
  • Check your tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can cut fuel economy by up to 2 percent per pound of pressure below the recommended level.
  • Slow down, accelerate and brake gently and anticipate driving conditions. By going easy on the gas pedal and brake, you can change your ride from a jerky one to a smooth one. That can add up to 15 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.
  • Clean the junk out of the trunk. Some people carry hundreds of pounds of unnecessary items in their trunk. The more weight the car carries, the harder the engine has to work and the fewer miles per gallon you will get.
  • Shop aggressively for the lowest prices. You can save by paying attention to the prices of stations along your route. But don't go too far out of your way to save a few cents on gasoline, because you'll waste more money than you save. Shopping around encourages retailers to be more competitive.

Credit cards that offer rewards points can help save money. AAA Platinum Visa gives a 5 percent rebate on gasoline purchases made at the pump.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.aaa.com.

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