Video: Debunking gas-saving myths

By Anne Thompson Chief environmental correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/19/2005 7:53:10 PM ET 2005-08-19T23:53:10

“Twenty-eight bucks for 10 gallons is ridiculous,” insists Colorado resident Victoria Michotte. So, she’s driving differently. “You go down a hill and you give a little bit of gas. And then when you go back up a hill, you kind of let off a little bit.”

Is this the new “Rocky Mountain high”?

That’s just one of the new driving myths that have sprung up with the prices.

NBC took myth-buster Michelle Mount of AAA for a ride to separate fact from fiction.

“A consistent speed is going to have your car work most efficiently,” clarifies Mount. “In fact, for every 5 miles you drive above 60 miles an hour you are throwing away about 15 cents a gallon.”

Robert Castrellon uses a different strategy.  “Don’t run your car with the air conditioning on,” Castrellon says. “It costs more gas when you run your A/C.”

That, Mount says, is not always true: “You want to make sure that when you’re in stop-and-go or city traffic that you use your windows,” she suggests.  “When you’re on the highway, then throw your windows up and put the air conditioner on. Open windows at high speeds actually increase the drag on the car, making the engine use more gas."

And speaking of drag, truck driver Dennis Wormington notices more cars following dangerously close to cut down wind resistance.

“If something goes wrong up here and I have to stop quick,” Wormington warns, “it’s going to be a mess.”

What does help? Keep your car tuned, your tires properly inflated, use cruise control on the highway and, unless it’s in the owner’s manual, Mount says the myth that higher-octane gas will go farther is just a myth.

“Save a few cents,” Mount says, “and go with regular.”

That’s some professional advice, to get the most out of fill-ups that are emptying out wallets.

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