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Gas prices hurting your pockets? Here are a few ways to save at the pump.

Updated March 14, 2022 - 4:44 am

With gas prices nearing the $5 per gallon mark over the weekend, the jump over the past month of more than $1 a gallon can be a hit on motorists’ wallets.

In the past month the average price for regular unleaded gas has spiked $1.05 but has shown a slight sign of slowing. Much of last week’s prices jumped at least 5 cents a gallon each day, but Saturday and Sunday saw only 2- and 1-cent increases, respectively. The average price Sunday in Las Vegas was $4.95 per gallon.

With commuting to and from work and carrying out various tasks in a day a necessity, especially in a commuter-heavy area like the Las Vegas Valley, all drivers should do whatever they can to save at the pump.

One way to do that is to switch one’s driving behavior, especially on highways and freeways, according to Patrick De Haan, lead petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.

Aggressive driving — speeding, rapid acceleration and braking — wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15 percent to 30 percent at highway speeds and 10 percent to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

“I know we all need fuel, we all want to try and live our lives, try to drive more fuel efficiently,” De Haan said last week. “The more of us that can band together and do that, the more we can reduce our consumption and the faster we can bring prices back down. I’m not asking you to park your cars. … If you can drive a few miles per hour slower on the interstate to reduce your consumption, that would be a nice step of you to make.”

The more people drive, the more they have to fill up their tanks, which helps drive the price of gas up. That’s known as the old supply-and-demand business model.

“You and I are telling how high prices to go with how often we fill up,” De Haan said. “I know a lot of people hate the fact that is the way it works, but that’s the situation.”

Aside from switching your driving habits, AAA has a bevy of tips that can help drivers save money on gas.

Here are a few of the best tips AAA has to offer:

■ Stay up to date on your vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendations. Newer cars don’t require tuneups, but following a vehicle’s service guidelines will ensure the best fuel economy, performance and longevity.

■ If your vehicle’s engine light comes one, take it to a repair shop as soon as possible. The warning symbol hints that there could be a problem that is causing excessive emissions and probably limiting fuel economy.

■ Probably the simplest way to ensure a vehicle is reaching its maximum fuel efficiency is keeping tires properly inflated. Underinflation reduces fuel economy, but more importantly, tires low on air degrade handling and braking, wear more rapidly and can overheat and blow out.

■ If you’re in the market for a new car, don’t focus on the ones with the most powerful engine. Instead, go for the one with the best fuel economy in their class. This can help you save on gas before even leaving the lot.

■ As it’s not quite summer, Las Vegas drivers can heed this: Minimize using a vehicle’s air conditioning. Open windows have less impact on fuel economy, even at highway speeds, than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.

■ Mapping out a plan before hitting the road is a good idea. Planning multiple errands in one trip and whenever possible driving during lower-traffic times of day are recommended.

■ If a household has more than one car, using the most fuel-efficient model for basic tasks can save money too.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.