When confronted with high gas prices, it can be tempting to seek out a fuel-efficient new car or ponder a switch to public transportation. If those thoughts make you groan, some simple changes in behavior can help you save at the pump with minimal sacrifice.

Drive gently

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Resist the urge to jam your foot down on the gas pedal after the light turns green or hit the gas while inching forward in traffic. It’s generally not going to save you any time, and it’s one of the quickest ways to burn through gasoline. Accelerate smoothly away from a stop, and in gridlocked traffic, just lift your foot off the brake and see how far the car will creep forward on its own.

Also pay attention to traffic and stoplights ahead of you so you can avoid needing to brake hard or accelerate when you don’t need to. Besides reducing your fuel use, concentrating on the conditions around you also makes you a safer driver.

Find an affordable gas station

While it doesn’t make sense to drive far out of your way to get the best gas price, it pays to know which stations are the cheapest. A valuable resource is GasBuddy.com, which lists recent prices at various stations near a given zip code. Armed with GasBuddy, which also offers a free mobile app, you’ll no longer drive past a station right after filling up and think “darn, I overpaid.”

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Buy the right gas

If your car’s manufacturer doesn’t call for premium grade gasoline, buy regular. Despite the name, premium isn’t a higher quality of fuel. Rather, some engines are designed to compress the gasoline more when running for higher performance, and such engines benefit from premium’s higher octane to avoid knocking during compression.

If your car does require premium, though, results are mixed as to whether you can save money by switching to regular. Sensors in the car make adjustments based on the grade of fuel being used, but this always reduces a car’s acceleration performance and sometimes reduces fuel economy as well.

Brady Holt, a Washington D.C. newspaper reporter, has had a lifelong interest in cars in the automotive world, and he’ll share his thoughts at every available opportunity. Brady has written for Examiner.com since 2008, publishing hundreds of car reviews, automotive news pieces and other features. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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