Don’t Be Fuelish: Ways to Improve Mileage Often Incorrect

 

Phoenix, Feb. 21, 2013. When prices start climbing, claims about ways to save on fuel start to emerge. This week, the statewide average rose 13.5 cents over the past week and more than 52 cents over the past month to $3.625 per gallon. Nationally, prices increased 15 cents over a week to almost $3.78 per gallon.

“Despite sharp increases, Arizona drivers are paying less for fuel than the majority of the country, as only seven states are averaging fuel prices less than our own,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “Nevertheless, the unseasonably high cost of gasoline has made fuel top of mind for motorists.”

This week, AAA would like to address five common fuel claims:

Claim: Additives boost fuel efficiency.

o   AAA says: FALSE. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tested “mixture enhancers” and found that few resulted in any fuel economy benefits. Consequently, AAA auto experts do not endorse such products.

Claim: Where you fill up matters.

o   AAA says: TRUE. Sometimes the most convenient places to buy gas are the most expensive, especially stations along freeways and highways. Use gas apps, such as AAA Mobile, and websites, such as AAA’s Fuel Finder, to find the cheapest gas prices in your area. AAA also has text alerts that will notify consumers of the lowest gas prices in your neighborhood.

Claim: Over-inflate tires and replace compressed air with nitrogen.

o   AAA says: FALSE. While too-low tires will decrease gas mileage, some people think over-inflating will do the opposite. All it will help, however, is to reduce your car’s handling and make your tires wear more quickly. Keep tires inflated to the recommended pressure listed on the inside of the driver’s side door. Also, filling your tires with nitrogren will keep your tire pressure more stable, but it will cost you. Save money by monitoring tire pressure monthly.

Claim: Open windows cause drag.

o   AAA says: FALSE. According to Consumer Reports, who tested out this theory, the air conditioner taxes fuel consumption more than the aerodynamic drag caused by open windows. Consumer Reports tested using a Honda Accord’s air conditioner while driving at 65 mph and found that it reduced the vehicle’s gas mileage by more than 3 miles per gallon. The effect of opening the windows at 65 mph (with the AC off), however, was not measurable. Technically, it’s more fuel efficient to leave your windows open.

Claim: A “gas out” or boycotts will force stations to lower prices.

o   AAA says: FALSE. You’ll occasionally see plans to boycott gas stations to help reduce prices. While there indeed was a daylong boycott in 2007 that garnered national media attention, the resulting claim that prices dropped 30 cents overnight did not actually happen. Even if drivers avoid buying gas on a certain day, they’ll have to fill up in the days before or after. A station doesn’t make or break itself over a single day. 

Tucson and Scottsdale hold the low and high state fuel averages at $3.379 and $3.754 per gallon, respectively. Wyoming and California hold the lowest and highest average prices for the lower 48 states at $3.215 and $4.203 per gallon, respectively.

City

Today’s price

Change from last week

Change from last month

Last year’s price

East Valley
(Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Apache Junction, Queen Creek)

$3.672

+13.3

+55.7

$3.547

Flagstaff

$3.664

+14.5

+34.3

$3.546

Glendale

$3.676

+12.3

+56.2

$3.554

Peoria

$3.646

+12.5

+53.4

$3.538

Phoenix (city)

$3.673

+13.6

+56.3

$3.553

Prescott
(Tri-Cities)

$3.593

+13.3

+52.7

$3.515

Scottsdale
(Scottsdale, Fountain Hills)

$3.754

+14.8

+57.1

$3.637

Tucson

$3.379

+12.4

+44.3

$3.408

Yuma

$3.742

+15.5

+59.8

$3.586

Statewide

$3.625

+13.5

+52.3

$3.557

National

$3.778

+15

+46.8

$3.579

 

As an advocacy organization representing the motoring public, AAA offers a variety of free resources to help motorists keep fuel budgets in check, including: 

AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report includes data from gasoline stations in every Arizona community. Local prices in some communities might be higher or lower than the averages shown here. This service is updated daily by the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) with average national, state and local prices for gasoline, diesel and E-85. Every day, more than 100,000 stations are surveyed in cooperation with Wright Express for unmatched statistical reliability.