Gas prices are expected to rise (and, in fact, are already rising) in 2011, maybe even topping $5 per gallon. Unless you drive a green car Olympian, this spike will likely affect your finances. So to help you increase your gas mileage and save money, we’re debunking the following 5 gas myths.

Gas myth #1: Premium is better

According to the Federal Trade Commission, high-octane fuel won’t give your car better gas mileage, increase its performance, or make it run any cleaner. In general, regular octane works just fine for most cars. If your owner’s manual recommends pumping regular, there’s no need to upgrade to premium.

Gas myth #2: Idling saves gas

Idling may have been the favorite pastime of 19th-century dandies like Oscar Wilde, but it doesn’t help much with fuel economy. In fact, according to Edmunds’ experts, idling could decrease your mpg by as much as 19 percent. Idling for longer than 10 seconds burns more gas than restarting the engine, so if you plan on stopping for longer than 30 seconds, you should turn off your car. (And as an added bonus, you’ll cut back on emissions and help improve air quality as well.) Avoid going idle Wilde and save a few Washingtons in the process.

Gas myth #3: Dirty air filters impact fuel economy

This is true if you drive a ’76 Chevelle, but modern cars have been engineered to control the air-fuel ratio, depending on the amount of air coming in through the filter. Reducing airflow causes the engine to automatically reduce the amount of fuel being used. A dirty air filter may hinder your acceleration speed, but according to Consumer Reports, driving with a dirty air filter no longer has any impact on fuel economy.

Gas myth #4: Cruise control doesn’t improve mpg

Cruise control is still going strong and can actually increase your fuel efficiency. On flat roads and highways, cruise control maintains a steady speed, cutting out rapid acceleration and fuel loss.

Additionally, you can increase your gas mileage by up to 15 percent if you travel at 55 rather than 65 mph. Dropping from 70 to 60 mph improves fuel efficiency by an average of 17.2 percent, and dropping from 75 to 55 improves fuel efficiency by 30.6 percent!

Gas myth # 5: Fuel additives add extra oomph (and gas mileage)

Don’t buy into the advertising. The Environmental Protection Agency tested hundreds of products claiming to enhance fuel economy and have yet to discover one that really works. Your best bet? Skip the additives and keep your car well-maintained.

Hopefully, by knowing what’s myth and what’s not, you’ll be able to maximize your mpg and save some bucks at the pump this year.

Related resources

Green your commute
Drive down your CARbon footprint
Fuel economy by car
Fuel cost calculator

Travel hacks

about Anne

If variety is the spice of a copywriter’s life, then Anne’s career at Esurance was akin to sassafras. From 2010 to 2014, she added a touch of zest to topics ranging from cleaning with baking soda to becoming a first-time homeowner.