With gas prices rising, most people are faced with sticker shock. Some families will find themselves having to limit trips, while others just want to cut back to prevent major expenses on gas. In both cases, there are simple ways to save money on gas. If you still want the convenience of traveling where you want, when you want, we’re here to help. These tips can help you save money on gas to combat rising gas prices.
What affects the amount I spend on gas?
Gas expenses are dependent on how much you drive, how you drive, and the state of the vehicle. Here’s the basics of how to save on gas money:
Driving habits have more effect on gas usage than you might expect. Beyond the obvious, the more you drive the more gas you’ll need, and how you drive can affect gas usage. Quickly accelerating, driving at high speeds, running the air conditioner, and speeding to a halt can all increase gas usage.
Instead, consider trying to maintain your car at an even speed as much as (safely) possible. When you see a red light, coast to the light rather than hitting the gas and then the brake. On warm days, open the windows rather than use the air conditioning. Drive slower, as that usually will burn more gas.
One final tip: avoid idle time. When waiting in line or at a long light, turn off your vehicle to save gas.
Maintaining your vehicle
Large, older vehicles will use more gas. Deferred maintenance can also cost you significantly. An efficient motor, low oil, or a misaligned car can all burn extra fuel. Anything that makes the vehicle less aerodynamic – like a bumper sticking off at an angle – will also increase gas usage.
To get the best mileage out of your vehicle, have it serviced annually to maintain good condition. Be sure to change the oil, check the gas caps, change the filters, and ensure that the tires are aligned. Tires that are low on air will also require more gas usage. Be sure your tire pressure is optimal!
17 ways to spend less on gas
Beyond the basics like maintenance, here are 17 ways to spend less on gas.
Join a fuel rewards program
Fuel rewards programs can lead to saving over time. Some gas stations offer rewards for regular customers. See what is possible to start saving with very little effort. Save gas station rewards and combine them with credit card rewards (see below) to save money on gas.
Use a rewards credit card
Many credit cards offer cash back options for fuel. These can be as much as 5% or more. If it costs $60 to fill your tank, that could be $3 saving on every tank. Rewards credit cards often have specials or ways to multiply your points for even more savings.
Go for cash over card
To avoid accumulating interest, consider paying for gas with cash. Some people find an effective option to choose a set amount for gas as a weekly budget. Once that limit is reached, they have to wait until the next week to refill. While this won’t work for everyone, it can be a way to ensure you don’t go over your gas budget at the pump.
Use apps to find the cheapest gas near you
Apps like Waze, GasBuddy, and Gas Guru allow you to save money on gas by comparing current pump prices at local gas stations. At the time of this writing, the difference in gas prices between local gas stations was as much as $0.85 per gallon. On a standard 15-gallon tank, shopping around could save up to $12 or more. Cheaper gas could be a click away.
Opt for regular gas
Regular gas costs less than premium. Most vehicles that suggest premium can also run on regular gas. Keep in mind that some engines run less efficiently on regular gas. To test your car, fill the tank with regular gas and note the mileage. Compare that to the mileage on a tank of premium gas. Accounting for the difference in price, you can then determine which costs less per mile.
Consider carpooling more often to save money on gas. Ride to work with a colleague. Take turns with a neighbor taking the kids to school. Combine trips so that several family members can do their errands together, rather than taking two or more cars. This can save gas and give more opportunities to connect with family, friends, and neighbors.
Plan your routes
Creating a strategic plan when you are running errands or spending time driving can help you save money. For example, if there are several stores 20 minutes from your home, plan to visit them all on the same trip. Or, stop on your way home from work. Consider where stores and activities are located and try to combine trips when you can.
Cut back on idle time
Idle time is gas, and cash, being burned. Instead of leaving a vehicle idling while waiting to pick up someone or in traffic, turn off the vehicle. Some newer vehicles have this as an automatic feature. You’ll be surprised how much gas you can save by just turning off the vehicle every time you have to wait.
Accelerate slowly and coast more
Whenever you accelerate rapidly, it uses more gas. Likewise, if you press the accelerator until you hit the brakes to stop, you will use more gas than if you coast to a stop. Whenever you can, let the car coast. Let up on the gas when approaching a red light or stop sign. And then when accelerating, start slowly and let the gas build momentum gradually. You can also let the car coast down hills or when in slower-moving traffic.
Use your heater and AC less
Both the heater and the AC require power, which comes from gas. Set the heater to a lower temperature in winter, and the AC to a higher temperature in summer. Better yet, bundle up in winter, and open the windows in summer to save money on gas.
Whether driving slower will actually save on gas depends on the vehicle. Many vehicles reach peak efficiency going at slow highway speeds of around 50-60 miles per hour. Check the peak efficiency for the make and model of your vehicle, and try to reach that whenever safe and possible. That might mean driving slower on the highway, but not necessarily in town.
Use cruise control
When you are not in hilly areas, using cruise control can help you save gas by modulating speed and decreasing extra braking or acceleration. However, in hilly areas, cruise control can actually use more gas as it accelerates on hills to try to reach the set speed and then brakes hard on the downhills.
Check tire pressure
Tire pressure can have a significant impact on fuel usage. Check that your tire pressure is optimal for your vehicle to save money on gas.
Check your gas cap
If your gas cap is missing, or if the seal breaks, gas can evaporate. That means that regardless of other factors, you’ll be losing gas. Double-check that the seal on your gas cap is tight to avoid losing gas.
Lighten your load
Excess weight and roof racks will increase fuel usage because the car will require more gas to accelerate. In addition, roof racks add significant wind resistance, further adding to the vehicle’s fuel needs. Removing roof racks when not in use and reducing weight can help you save on gas.
Use the correct oil type
Most engines are designed to run on a specific type of oil. Using the wrong type of oil can reduce efficiency. To save money on gas, check with the manufacturer about the correct oil type for your vehicle.
Buy a more fuel-efficient car
If it is in your budget and makes financial sense, buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle can help you save on gas. The first Toyota Prius came onto the market over 20 years ago. There are a vast array of hybrid and electric cars on the market today. Consumers can choose between new and used vehicles. Many standard vehicles are now significantly more fuel-efficient. If it makes sense for your family, consider fuel efficiency as a deciding factor on any new vehicle.
Little steps add up to saving on gas
The rapid rise in gas prices doesn’t have to hurt your budget. How to save money on gas can be as simple as adjusting driving habits, planning routes, and keeping your vehicle in good repair. Not only will the tips here help you save on gas, but they can be good for the environment as well. Try incorporating a few of these tips each week to consistently save money on gas.
What is the best way to save on gas?
The best way to save on gas is to drive less. Beyond that, you’ll want to plan routes for fewer trips, carpool, and seek out stations with the lowest gas prices. A car in good repair will also use less gas.
Does driving slower save gas?
It depends. Driving slower could mean going 60 MPH in a 70 MPH one or 25 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Find the speed or speed range where your car has maximum efficiency, and aim to drive in that range as much as possible.
Are gas apps worth it?
Many gas apps are free and can help you save $10 or more when you fill up your gas tank. If the gas apps are free or low cost, they are worth it to save money on gas.