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Some tricks to save money on gas could lead to higher repair bills down the road

From chasing deals and coupons to holding off on oil changes, mechanics say short-term solutions to save money on gas may wind up costing you more in the long run.

MINNEAPOLIS — With high gas prices, everyone is looking for ways to save money. But some tricks that might save you a few cents now, could wind up costing you a lot more money in the long run.

Let's say you've got a coupon to save a few cents per gallon.

You might be tempted to run down your gas tank to nearly empty to max out that coupon.

That might save you some money in the short term, but automotive experts say you could be setting yourself up for a costly repair bill down the road.

"Running it low on fuel is definitely a very stressful event for a fuel pump,” Golden Valley Tire and Service Assistant Service Manager Jim Kirchner said.

Kirchner says running your tank near empty once or twice won’t make a difference. However, if you run your tank near empty all the time, your fuel pump could wear out sooner than it should.

"So many fuel pumps these days take several hours of labor to access and replace,” Kirchner explained.

He says the pump itself might only cost $100 or $200, but the labor to replace it could cost thousands.

Gas tanks also have sediment that settles on the bottom and if you run your tank near empty Kirchner says that sediment could clog up your fuel pump and also lead to a costly repair bill.

"The lower the fuel is in your tank the more of that sediment you could potentially pick up,” Kirchner said.

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Putting off your oil change could also cost you a lot of money in the long run.

“It may be tempting to try and squeeze more miles out of your oil before getting it changed but going several thousand miles overdue on oil can certainly lead to your oil breaking down on a molecular level. That breakdown would build up this rather nasty sludge that can clog things up and cause problems,” Kirchner explained.

Using the wrong type of gas can also damage your vehicle. E85 is often cheaper than regular gasoline, but Kirchner says drivers need to make sure that their vehicle can handle it.

"You would have a cap on your gas tank that says something like, 'E85 and gasoline' on it, and that’s how you can tell,” Kirchner said. “You can also look at your owner’s manual.”

Using the wrong kind of fuel can either make your vehicle run poorly or it could cause your vehicle to stop running entirely. Kirchner says that small mix up could cost you thousands.

But his best piece of advice?

Keeping your tire pressure at the proper setting. That can save you a lot of money on gas.

"It can cave you between five and 20% depending on how low the tires are," he said.

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And when it comes to those gas coupons, think about how far you have to drive to get that good deal.

If the gas station is on the other side of town, or it’s located in a different city, you might end up paying more money on gas than you’re saving.

Even if you’re saving 20 cents per gallon and you have a 15-gallon tank, you’re only saving $3, and chances are you might be spending more money driving back and forth to that gas station.

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