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Getting the most from each gallon

As part of our day-long special series on dealing with the high price of gasoline, NBC's Robert Hager has some expert advice on how to squeeze every last mile out of each gallon of gas.

In California, Marc Levine’s been leaving his SUV gas-guzzler parked lately and driving to work in his small Mitsubishi. “It just became more and more painful every time I had to go to the gas station to put gas in it,” he says.

With the price of gas hitting another all-time high Friday, many are pondering ways to save.

So, NBC asked advice from some people who ought to know: the editor of a major car magazine and a gasoline distributor from south Florida. Dutch Mandel of Auto Week Magazine says to be sure your tires are well inflated, and don’t drive too fast, “Everything helps — accelerate smoothly, brake smoothly.”

Driving 60 rather than 70, for instance, can save 20 cents a gallon!

What else?  “Make sure that the car is in tune. That is paramount,” said Mandel.

And remember, luggage or bike racks create wind resistance, even when they’re empty.  On a recent vacation, Mandel found that out the hard way, “I got seven miles to the gallon worse mileage with my luggage carrier.  That’s incredible!”

In South Florida, distributor Harvey Jacobson knows the supply business well and says “gas is gas,” whether it’s a big name or a “no-name” brand, “If you have a BP station on one corner and across the street is ‘Fred’s Fast Serve’ there is no oil company [called] ‘Fred’s Fast Serve,’ that’s out there selling gasoline.  Fred got his product from one of the oil companies.”

In other words, even a major-brand distributor says: Buying off-brand can often save you 5 cents a gallon.

And what about the myth that most cars drive better on high-test gasoline?  According to Jacobson, “If you’re running a high-performance car and you want to try and outrun the highway patrol on the interstate, you might want to keep premium in your tank just in case it helps you. If you’re not going to be doing that, I would suggest you use regular gasoline.”

Regular, instead of high-test, can save 18 cents a gallon now.

It all adds up, when the price at the pump is adding up too — faster than ever.