Ease your pain at the pump this summer with these tips to put the brakes on gas guzzling.

Road trip! It's a time-honoured summer tradition, but constantly fluctuating gas prices have many travellers feeling the pain at the pump. But don't lose heart. If you're planning to hit the open road, taking a few small steps could add up to surprisingly big savings.


Here are some practical ways to put the brakes on gas guzzling:

Ease up on the gas pedal. While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph (96 km). In fact, according to the US Department of Energy, every five mph that you drive in excess of 60 mph is about the same as paying an additional 24 cents for every gallon of gas.

And according to some Canadian experts, if you keep your vehicle speed at, or below 100 kilometres an hour on the highway, you could lower your fuel costs by up to 20 per cent. Engaging your cruise control on the open highway will help you to maintain constant speed.

Go in high gear. Use high gear or overdrive when driving at highway speeds. Switching to high gear will reduce engine speed thereby saving gas and cutting wear to the engine.

Avoid aggressive driving. Jackrabbit starts following by abrupt, screeching stops can cut both highway and city mileage. In fact, sensible drivers can lower gas mileage by about 33 per cent at highway speeds and by 5 per cent in the city. Such reckless driving is not only unsafe, but also puts unnecessary wear and tear on your tires.

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Cynthia Ross Cravit