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Consumer Reports debunks gas myths

Tuesday - 6/26/2012, 7:11am  ET

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The latest WTOP Pain in the Gas Survey finds gas averaged $3.53 a gallon last week. (AP)

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Some people buy fuel from expensive gas stations thinking it's better for their cars, but that's not typically the case, according to Consumer Reports.

"Gas stations all buy their supplies from the same local suppliers," says Consumer Reports Senior Associate Autos Editor Eric Evarts.

"Some of the gas at name-brand stations may have additional cleaning additives in it, which those brands advertise, and the other guys are not allowed to. But the reality is that they tend to come from the same terminals."

Another fuel myth debunked by Consumer Reports involves premium fuel. Before paying premium prices, check whether the car manual states high test fuel is required or recommended.

If it only says premium is recommended, Evarts says a car should run fine on regular unleaded fuel.

"You won't actually see a difference," he says.

As far as extending gas mileage, Consumer Reports finds under-inflated tires have a greater impact on safety than on fuel economy.

"We tested several cars with under-inflated tires and found that the difference in fuel economy is negligible."

The under-inflated tires did, however, make a big difference in ability to stop the car quickly and take corners.

Proven winners for improving gas mileage include not making jack rabbit starts, not speeding, not carrying unnecessary weight in the trunk and keeping luggage off the roof. Even unloaded luggage racks can create drag and dampen gas mileage.

Also, cars run more efficiently when warmed up, so fuel economy experts recommend combining trips rather than leaving the house multiple times to run multiple errands.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)