Fueling Myths and Mistakes

By Chuck Mai Modified: February 25, 2013 at 9:00 am •  Published: February 25, 2013
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AAA Oklahoma, Feb. 22, 2013 – When pump prices are climbing, claims about ways to save on fuel emerge. This week, Oklahoma’s statewide average rose 11 cents over the past week and more than 58 cents over the past month to $3.634 per gallon today. Nationally, prices have increased 14 cents over the last week to $3.781 per gallon.

“Despite sharp increases, Oklahoma drivers are paying less for fuel than the majority of the country, only seven states have average fuel prices lower than our own,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Nevertheless, the unseasonably high cost of gasoline has made fuel top of mind for motorists.”

AAA recently addressed five common fuel claims and debunked four of them.

  • Claim:  Additives boost fuel efficiency.
    • 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 any such products.
  • Claim:  Where you fill up matters.
    • 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, to find the cheapest gas station prices in your area. For tips on conserving fuel and to access AAA’s free Fuel Price Finder, visit Fuel News & Tools in the Newsroom section found at the bottom of the AAA.com home page. 
  • Claim:  Over-inflate tires for better mileage.
    • AAA says: FALSE. While too-low tires will decrease gas mileage, some 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 or in the owner’s manual. Also, filling tires with nitrogen will help keep your tire pressures more stable.
  • Claim:  Open windows cause drag.
    • 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. 
  • Claim:  Gas boycotts will force stations to lower their prices.
    • 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. 

Among cities in Oklahoma with at least ten gas stations, Ada has the most expensive fuel average today at $3.741. Henryetta has the state’s cheapest, $3.536. Wyoming and California hold the lowest and highest average prices today for the lower 48 states at $3.23 and $4.22 per gallon, respectively.

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