AAA debunks gas-saving urban legends, myths

We've all heard various ways you can save gas and improve your vehicle's performance, but they're not all necessarily true. Here, AAA Oklahoma gives you the lowdown on the latest myths, urban legends, fables, and old wives’ tales about saving fuel and money at the pump. You just might be surprised.
AAA OKLAHOMA Modified: March 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm •  Published: March 23, 2011
Gasoline prices have dropped 3 cents over the last 10 days across Oklahoma, according to AAAFuelGaugeReport.com.

The Oklahoma average for self-serve regular is $3.39 per gallon today and the national average now stands at $3.55.

There is no guarantee this downward trend will continue, prompting many drivers to change their habits and seek ways to save money at the pump.

However, cash-strapped and stressed-out motorists should be leery of some fuel conservation and money saving tips that are being offered.

AAA Oklahoma is debunking the latest myths, urban legends, fables, and old wives’ tales about saving fuel and money at the pump:

Myth No. 1: Boycotting filling stations one day a week will cause the oil companies to lower fuel prices.

False: This one makes the rounds via email chains and is a favorite of Facebook users every time pump prices soar. Unless you stop driving your car altogether, you are merely postponing the inevitable.

“The United States consumed about 137.93 billion gallons (or 3.28 billion barrels) of gasoline in 2009,” according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

That works out to a daily average of about 388 million gallons or 8.99 million barrels, the EIA notes. Unless we curb our addiction to gas, it’s a matter of “pay me now or pay me later” at the filling station.

At today's price level, we are spending about 1.4 billion dollars a day nationwide on fuel purchases.

Myth No. 2: Additives and products improve fuel efficiency

False: AAA has found that these products do not work. Avoid speeding, rapid acceleration and braking to lower gas mileage. This can translate to a savings of 15 cents to $1 per gallon, according to the Department of Energy.

Myth No. 3: Driving the most fuel efficient car in your driveway will save you an extra $4,240 in fuel costs over five years.

True: Assuming one car gets 20 MPG and the other gets 30 MPG, and you drive 15,000 miles a year. With a fuel cost of $3.39, you will save that much over the five-year period.

The average cost of owning and operating a sedan rose 4.8 percent to 56.6 cents per mile during 2009, according to the 2010 edition of AAA's annual “Your Driving Costs” study. That's $8,487 per year, based on 15,000 miles of annual driving.

The cost of owning and operating a small sedan, again based on driving 15,000 miles per year, was $6,496. Annually, it was $10,530 for a large sedan, $9,301 for a minivan, and $11, 085 for a 4WD SUV, the study showed. But that was based on an annual cost of regular unleaded at $2.603. It's much higher now.

Myth No. 4: Trading your gas-guzzling SUV or large sedan for a more fuel-efficient compact or hybrid vehicle makes more money or economic sense.

False: It is “cheaper to keep her,” as the old saying goes. Unless your car note is already paid off, you are simply accumulating more consumer debt. “About 82 percent of new car loans today have terms of 60 to 77.9 months,” according to a study by J.D. Power and Associates.

Therefore, most Americans are “upside down” or “underwater” in their car loans, meaning, as borrowers, they still owe more money on the car loan than the vehicle is really worth. The average owed at trade-in is $4,221 more than the vehicle is worth, one study shows.

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