Tricks To Save Money On Gas
Your Gas Expenses
Each year, in the United States, approximately 134.83 billion gallons of gasoline are consumed. That’s a lot! And according to Yardeni Research, the average American household will spend around $5,000 on gasoline in 2022, up from around $2,800 in 2021.
Owning a car is expensive, but with the rising price of gas, it’s even worse. But did you know that there are simple and effective ways to reduce these expenses? Find out how to save hundreds of dollars a year on gas by following these tricks!
Pay With Cash
Did you know that some gas stations charge less when you pay with cash? Yep, it’s true. Paying with cash helps stations save on credit card fees, and it helps you save, too. The difference between cash and credit card prices for gas can range anywhere from 5 to 15 cents a gallon. Sometimes you can save even more!
FYI, debit card purchases, although they represent real cash, may incur a transaction fee, too, so be sure to check with the clerk prior to filling up. Depending on the gas station’s policy, you just might be better off paying with actual cash than with a debit card.
Opt For Regular Gas
Unless you drive a vehicle that requires you to use premium gas or diesel fuel, your best bet is to fill up with regular gas. Not only does premium gas cost about 50 cents more per gallon than regular gasoline, it doesn’t have any impact on vehicles that are unable to take advantage of it. “In most cases, using a higher-octane gasoline than your owner’s manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit. It won’t make your car perform better, go faster, get better mileage or run cleaner,” the Federal Trade Commission said in a consumer notice.
Here’s something else: Not using premium gas for cars whose manuals suggest it won’t necessarily hurt the engine. You’d more than likely just lose some of the performance of the engine.
Don’t Top It Off
While you may think you’re doing yourself a favor by trying to squeeze that last little bit of gas into your tank, you’re actually doing yourself a great disservice. In fact, you really should stop pumping gas after you hear that first click. The extra that you’re trying to squeeze in there will just likely splash out or evaporate. This is especially true if you forget to screw the gas cap on all the way. “About 17 percent of vehicles on the road have loose, damaged or missing gas caps, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year,” automotive expert Lauren Fix told Geico.
Abiding by the speed limit will not only keep you and other motorists safe, it will keep your fuel costs down as well. You’ll get better miles per gallon performance when you maintain a consistent speed while driving, which, over time, will make your vehicle more fuel efficient. So, what’s the best speed to get better mpg performance?
Well, according to the experts, the best fuel economy is achieved when you’re driving steadily between 50 and 65 miles per hour. And here’s something else to keep in mind: Don’t gun it when you’re at a traffic light and it turns green. Doing so will only burn extra gas.
Buy Gas At The Right Time
One way you can save money on gas is by filling up on the cheapest days of the week. According to GasBuddy, Monday is the best day to fill up your tank. This is when you will find the cheapest gas-per-gallon prices of the week.
But it isn’t just the day of the week that matters, the time of day is important as well. It’s best to purchase gas early in the morning or late in the day, particularly during summer months. That’s because gas is cooler at these times, and, therefore, more dense. But as the temperature rises, gas becomes less dense, so you get less of it when you pump it during the middle of a hot summer day as opposed to first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
Turn Off The AC
I know it can get really hot in the summer, but if you’re trying to save money on gas, you need to try to reduce your AC use as much as possible. Using the air conditioner on hot days can reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by 25 percent.
This is especially true when you take short trips—in other words, when you’re in traffic. If you’re on the highway, it’s actually better to use the AC. Rolling the windows down will create aerodynamic drag and cause your vehicle to use more energy.
If you drive a plug-in hybrid vehicle, you can precool it by turning on the AC while the car is plugged into the charger.
Park In The Shade
Parking in the shade when it’s hot outside can keep the inside of your car from getting too hot, thus keeping you from turning on the AC—or at least turning it up high. If you can’t find a shady spot, you can always use a windshield sunshade.
But whatever you do, don’t drive around looking for a shady spot to park. That wastes a lot of gas. According to a report from transportation analytics company Inrix, Americans spend 17 hours per year on average searching for parking spots. That being said, just grab the first parking spot you see.
Get Rid Of Excess Weight
The heavier your vehicle, the more gas it burns. With that said, it’s a good idea to remove anything from your vehicle that’s weighing it down, like storage bins, roof racks, sporting equipment, sound deadening materials, and even that spare tire in your trunk.
You won’t need it if you’ve got run flat tires, which you can continue driving on after a puncture—that is, until you find a tire shop or a safe, level place to change your tire. You can’t drive on them indefinitely, but you can get more driving time on them than you can on traditional tires.
Fill Up At A Warehouse Club
Wholesale clubs can be some of the best places to help you save money on gas. In some cases, gas at BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club can be as much as 70 cents less than state averages. According to CBS 42 in Birmingham, Alabama, oil industry consultant Andrew Lipow says this is due in part to volume.
In other words, the stores buy so much gas, they can get it for less than competitors. Then, they pass the savings on to consumers. “The sheer amount of volume that they sell allows them to be cheaper than the convenience store that you might see at the corner,” Lipow said.
Know When To Use Cruise Control
Using cruise control can help you save money on gas, but you have to know when to use it. For example, long commutes or road trips are ideal times to use cruise control. Cruise control is also great for maintaining a steady speed on flat terrains.
On the other hand, using cruise control on hilly or mountainous roads will burn way too much gas when your vehicle accelerates up the steep inclines. To save gas on these kinds of roads, you will need to slow down slightly as you go up the hills and slowly accelerate as you go down. This will keep your engine from working too hard.
Plan Your Routes
Choosing the best route can help you save on gas. The best route would be the one with the fewest stops. This means avoiding streets that have a ton of traffic lights, stop signs, construction, congestion, etc. You should also time your trip to make sure you avoid rush-hour traffic.
And even though the shortest route is the quickest route, it isn’t always the best route when it comes to fuel efficiency. In fact, some longer routes may actually be more fuel efficient, according to Kyle Tetz, a former Honda employee, van life and travel expert, and founder of the travel website The Next Trip.
Use An App
Some gas stations consistently offer lower prices on gasoline than others. And thanks to gas apps like GasBuddy and GetUpside, there’s an easy way to find out which ones.
GasBuddy is probably the most popular gas app. It’s been downloaded over 10 million times and has earned a rating of 4.7 stars in the Google Play store. There are free and paid versions, with the paid version offering an additional perk—discounts on gas.
For those of you who live near retailers like Walmart and Costco, you can fill up there, as they regularly offer cheaper gas prices to entice people to shop at their stores.
Avoid Idling In Traffic
When parked, keep your engine turned off as much as possible to avoid idling. Idling wastes lots of gas—anywhere from a quarter-gallon to a half-gallon of gas per hour, to be exact. It’s better to turn the engine off completely and restart. This only takes 10 seconds worth of gas.
And speaking of 10 seconds, if you’re picking up someone or waiting in the drive-thru line and your wait is longer than 10 seconds, you need to turn off your engine. So, how does that calculate in terms of money? According to federal government estimates, you could save up to 4 cents per minute.
Take advantage of your car’s Auto Stop-Start feature. This will shut everything down when you’re not driving.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Tires that are properly inflated help eliminate rolling resistance, thereby maximizing fuel efficiency. On the flip side, under-inflated tires will deliver poor gas mileage, meaning you’ll have to fill up more often. Estimates from the Department of Transportation show that for every 1 PSI (pounds per square inch), your tires are under-inflated, you lose 0.2 percent fuel economy.
Keeping your tires properly inflated could save you between 2 cents and 12 cents per gallon, depending on gas prices in your area. Additionally, low tire pressure affects braking distances, provides less responsive steering and handling, accelerates tire tread wear, and leads to loss of tread segments or blowouts.
Lay Off The Brakes
If there’s a sharp bend in the road, you’re turning soon, or you’re approaching a red light, it’s a good idea to coast for a little bit. Thrillist explains why:
“All your brakes do is convert your forward momentum into heat energy, and even the best energy recovery systems don’t capture 90% of that energy.” Plus, “if you don’t slow down for a turn, you have to take it faster, which is not only fun, it means you don’t have to accelerate as much.”
DID YOU KNOW?
There are apps, such as Automatic, for example, that help you get better fuel economy. It will beep if you brake too hard.
Keep Up With Engine Maintenance
Your gas mileage depends on the condition of your vehicle’s engine. Small engine troubles affect fuel economy by an average of 4 percent, and serious engine problems could affect fuel economy by as much as 40 percent!
That being said, you’ll want to make sure you do everything you can to keep your engine in tiptop shape. This includes making sure you use the correct grade of motor oil. A quick check of your owner’s manual will tell you what motor oil your manufacturer recommends.
Keeping your engine in tiptop shape also includes keeping your car’s sensors and filters dirt-free. Clogged, dirty filters and sensors keep your car from running optimally, which in turn causes you to spend more at the pump.
Use A Gas Rewards Card
A good way to save money on gas is to use a gas rewards card. The Chase Freedom Flex card, for example, lets you earn 5% cash back at the pump for your first year. The Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express offers unlimited 3% cash back on gas purchases.
These credit cards usually offer additional perks, too, such as travel miles and extra points. Just beware that some gas stations set higher gas prices for credit card purchases. All in all, just make sure you pay your credit cards off in full. If not, you’ll end up spending more money than you would have saved.
Use Loyalty Programs
Most gas stations offer loyalty cards/programs, and signing up for them is very easy. Not only that, but it won’t cost you a dime—unlike credit cards. In fact, these programs actually help you save money on purchases, including gas. For example, 7-Eleven’s gas loyalty program offers a discount of 11 cents per gallon for the first seven fill-ups.
What’s more is that some grocery store loyalty programs offer gas rewards as well, at either their own gas stations or ones they’ve partnered with. Here’s how it works: You earn points buying groceries and then redeem those points for gas. It’s that simple!
Don’t Wait Until The Tank Is Almost Empty to Fill Up
You should head to the gas station once your tank is three-quarters empty. Why? According to an article published by Moneycrashers.com, waiting until the tank is nearly empty before you fill up will more than likely force you to have to settle for getting gas at the first station you see. The problem with that is that the gas there could be higher than at other stations.
Besides, even gas stations run out of gas at times. The last thing you want is to be stranded because you made it to the gas station in time, but they were all out. It sounds crazy, but it happens. If you’ve got AAA, that’s no problem. They’ll just bring you more fuel. If you don’t have AAA, you’ll likely be forced to get help from someone, and that might require shelling out more cash as a thank-you for their kindness.
The less you drive, the less money you’ll spend at the pump. It’s really that simple. That being said, why not consider carpooling, taking public transportation, or renting a public bike or electric scooter? Depending on where you live, you may even be able to walk to work, school, the grocery store, or wherever you need to go. You can even try working from home whenever possible.
You could also consider splitting the cost of an Uber or Lyft rideshare with a friend. And if there are items that you want to purchase, consider ordering them online and having them delivered to your front door instead of buying them in person.