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Maximize Savings by Driving Smart

Smart drivers save money while staying safe—and you may be able to save more money than you think!

Consider these unexpected ways to save by driving smart:

Drive Gently

Aggressive driving, in addition to being incredibly dangerous, can cause serious damage to your fuel economy. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that aggressive driving behaviors like rapid acceleration, weaving between cars and frequent braking can lower your miles-per-gallon by up to 33% on the highway. By driving “gently,” you put less wear and tear on your tires, engine and brakes, and you also improve your gas mileage. Staying calm and driving carefully will help save you money in the long run.

Here are a few more tips to maximize savings on gas on the road ahead:

  • Be easy to your car when driving: Use cruise control when possible. Try to avoid abrupt starts and sudden stops.
  • Use the right gas: Check your owner’s manual to find the right octane level for your car. Using a higher octane gas than recommended not only damages your engine, but also hurts your wallet.
  • Avoid driving on “E”: Driving on low gas levels causes sediment from gasoline to settle at the bottom of your tank. This makes your car run on the dirtiest gas in the tank, harms the fuel intake valve, and forces your engine to work harder.
  • Follow the speed limit: Driving at speeds over 60 miles per hour significantly decreases your gas mileage. Stay safe (and save money) by sticking to the speed limit.

Don’t Put Off Maintenance

Ignoring simple issues can lead to larger, and more expensive, problems over time. Regular tune-ups will save you money and headaches.

For those tasks you cannot easily perform yourself, routine maintenance by a trained technician is worth the expense over the risk of a costly breakdown on the road, especially in those cold winter months.

Winterizing your car — simple and requires little more than some routine upkeep and maintenance. Prepare yourself for the winter driving season by following these 5 tips:

  1. Listen up: If you’ve been hearing any unusual noises while driving be sure to check out the source of those sounds.
    • Brakes— check your brake fluid. Brake fluid attracts moisture, which could freeze in the winter and create travel issues.
  2. Tune up: Schedule a winter check-up for your vehicle with a trained technician with special attention to parts vulnerable in winter, such as the battery, engine and brakes.
    • Also consider installing snow tires for better traction.
  3. Clean up: Give your vehicle a “winter cleaning” inside and out
    • A basic car wash is a good place to start to ensure your exterior is prepared for the barrage of snow and salt, and to also make sure your lights and mirrors aren’t obstructed by any dirt.
    • Clean out your trunk to make space for essential winter season supplies like a scraper and shovel.
  4. Stock up: Add the winter necessities to the emergency roadside kit in your vehicle.
    • In addition to the everyday essentials like a flashlight, flares, first aid kit, etc., be sure to also include more winter specific items:
      • blanket
      • hats and gloves
      • snow brush
      • ice scraper
      • snow shovel
      • bag of salt or kitty litter (for added traction in case a tire gets stuck)
      • tire chains
  5. Fill up: In the winter months, an empty gas tank runs the risk of freezing, whereas a fuller tank prevents moisture from building up and even adds a beneficial weight increase to your vehicle.
    • Always keep your gas tank at least half-full.
    • Fill up on new oil.
    • Make sure your anti-freeze is full and contains the appropriate mix (about a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze).

DIY — You may not be an auto expert or repair professional, but some routine tasks, such as replacing worn windshield wipers can be performed quickly and easily at minimal cost.

  • Replace worn windshield wipers every six to 12 months, especially in winter—If you notice streaking from the wipers on the windshield when it’s raining, then it’s time for a replacement.
    • After purchasing new wiper blades, you can replace them in six simple steps:
      1. Pull the wiper away from the windshield, as if you were washing your windshield by hand.
      2. Press the small tab on the underside of the wiper to slide the wiper off the wiper arm.
      3. Remove the old blade. Pay attention to how the old blade connects to the wiper arm.
      4. Line up the new wiper with the wiper arm and lower it into the arm. Be careful not to scratch your windshield.
      5. Pull it tight until you hear a click to make sure it’s secure.
      6. Lower the wiper arm back to the windshield and repeat these steps with the other wiper.

Smart drivers are smart with their money! Another potential money-saver is the AARP Smart Driver™ course — AARP Driver Safety’s flagship offering and the nation’s first and largest refresher course designed specifically for older drivers. The AARP Smart Driver course is available in a classroom and online, in both English and Spanish. In some states, you may even be eligible for a multi-year insurance discount upon completion of the course.*

For more information, visit or call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-877-846-3299).


*The insurance premium discount is not available in all states for the online or the classroom versions of the course. Please consult your insurance agent for further details.

S.M.A.R.T Driving

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