Everyone knows the price of gas just keeps going up, even when we think it’s going to come down. But that’s the way inflation works after all. So you might be wondering how to save money on gas, and if you aren’t then you still might find this article useful. Everyone could use a few more dollars in their pocket, and that’s what Cents-ible.com is all about. So take a look at these
Related article: How to Save Money
How to Save Money On Gas with Better Driving Habits
The biggest factor when it comes to how much money you are going to be spending at the pump is your personal driving habits. If you can get these in check, then you’ll be likely to make some serious improvements when it comes to how much you are pulling out of your wallet.
1. Drive Less
This is without a doubt, the most obvious thing on this list, however I would be remised if I didn’t make sure that it was here. If you want to save money on gas, then you need to consider driving less.
If post office is within walking distance, then make sure you walk. If you have to ride a bike to pick up milk, the bust out the bike. The more effort you put into not driving everywhere, the less money you are going to spend getting there.
Plus the added health benefits are nice too. Honestly, after a while I found that I preferred to walk to many of my local stores. I enjoyed the alone time, and the fresh air.
2. Drive at a Constant Speed
We are all too tempted to get everywhere just as fast as possible. And that is completely understandable in this world. Time is a valuable commodity, and no one wants to waste it. But here’s the deal, constantly hitting the gas to get around that slow person on the road is costing you a fortune. There was a test done by Edmunds.com in which they found that driving at a constant rate decreased fuel consumption by up to 35%!
Granted, that was not on an efficient vehicle, but even saving 10% of you month gas costs will add up to a huge amount over the course of a year.
3. Use Cruise Control
This is almost the same as the last tip, but it takes a lot less effort. If your vehicle is equipped with cruise control, then make sure you are using it. It will keep your car at a constant speed for you, saving you gas and effort.
4. Lay Off the Gas Pedal
I know it’s fun to smash on the pedal when the light turns green. We’ve all been there. But the fact remains that quick acceleration drastically cuts down your MPGs. Don’t waste your money on something which is only likely to get you a ticket anyway.
For optimal efficiency, you should be accelerating as slowly as safety permits. You don’t want to cause an accident after all.
Related Article: 4 Tips to Save Money
5. Keep Track of Your Braking
Just as important as keeping the gas pedal in check, are the brakes. Hitting the brakes too often or too hard makes you have to correct your speed. Which means that you are literally only slowing down to speed up again. This is extremely wasteful.
Instead try braking early and slowly. Doing this correctly often allows you to time out lights without ever having to come to a complete stop, which is great for you gas tank.
As a side note, doing this will preserve the life of your brake pads and rotors, so you’ll be spending less in the shop too.
6. Slow Down
Did you know that the national speed limit of 55 was established by Richard Nixon, and it wasn’t for safety? Speed limits were actually established for the sake of conserving gas, it was only after traffic fatalities went down that they decided to keep such laws.
The reason for this is that air acts in a very strange way. You would think that when you double your speed, you double you wind resistance, but that isn’t true. As it turns out wind resistance is exponential, so the amount of power it takes to overcome 80 miles per hour, is a lot more than what it takes to beat 65.
So slow down, yes it may take longer to get where you are going, but you’ll have extra money to spend when you get there.
7. Drive When There Is Less Traffic
This changes from place to place, but knowing the times when there is going to be less traffic can really help. When there are fewer cars on the road, you are much less likely to be stuck in traffic, which is going to eat up a lot more gas than if you could just drive where you wanted to without hindrance.
Also, a lot of traffic lights detect when a car is coming, and change to before they get there. If your city has these equipped and there isn’t anyone at the light, then there’s a good chance you won’t have to stop at all, saving you a ton of gas.
8. Warm Up Your Car for Less Time
If you live in a place that is cold then go buy a coat. The longer you warm your car up, the more gas you are wasting just to get the cab comfortable. Though warming up your engine to prevent damage is still advisable. It may not be comfortable, but if you’re looking for ways to save money on a tight budget, then get used to the cold.
9. Buy Gas Either Late or Early
If you take a look at gas prices throughout the day then you are bound to find a startling average. From midday till the end of rush hour the prices of gas are at their highest. But the good news there is that gas can be bought much cheaper if you just buy it nice and early. Or if you aren’t exactly a morning person, then you can fill it up later in the evening.
10. Turn Your Engine Off
Waiting in line at the fast food place? Turn off your engine. You don’t really think about it, but there is a lot of time we spend just sitting in our cars waiting for people. And every second that you have the engine on, it’s just burning through your money. Make a habit of turning your car off if you have to wait more than 20 seconds. You’ll be surprised just how much this can save over a year.
11. Don’t Buy Gas Near the Highway
Gas stations which can be seen from the highway will often inflate their prices by around 10 cents. They know that the average consumer isn’t going to go out of their way to find cheaper gas. So don’t act like the average person.
Drive down the street a block or two and find another gas station. You won’t be disappointed when you are at the pump.
12. Reduce Wind Resistance
I know you love that antennae ornament that you got from Jack In The Box, but go ahead and take that off. Anything which increases drag is just going to cost you money, so now is a good time to ditch it.
This goes for anything on the outside of your car too. If you have a bike rack, then take it off when you aren’t hauling a bike. There’s no sense in paying for it every day when you only use it a couple of times a month.
13. Roll the Windows Up
This goes along with reducing wind resistance, but it’s more of a thing all on its own. I know that it can get hot, but keeping your windows down in the summer significantly increases the amount of effort your car has to put out in order to move you along the road. And the faster you go, the worse this gets.
14. Turn Off the AC
Once again, creature comforts cost you money. If you are really trying to save money on gas, then this one is a pretty big deal. Air conditioners are one of the worst offenders on this list when it comes to wasting fuel efficiency. So if it’s hot, and you can bear to be without it, then turn it off.
If you live in a place where it get too hot, you may have to choose between having the windows down and running the AC (cars can get into the 140’s inside at some places around the world, so don’t mock this). Then the answer here is a little strange. If you are going less than 45 miles per hour, having the windows down is cheaper method. However, if you are traveling faster than that, it’s typically more efficient to run the AC.
So as a rule of thumb you can treat it like this. If you’re in town, windows down. If the freeway is what you see, crank up the AC.
But make sure to do this, because AC can tax your car’s fuel economy by 5 to 25%. That’s huge!
15. Pay With Cash
Gas stations, and in particular ones that aren’t part of a large chain don’t always get the best deals on their credit and debit processing fees. Because of this, they may more money per gallon of gas they sell if you pay in cash.
Most of these places will pass the savings on to you, and knock an easy 10 cents per gallon off the price. All you have to do is get used to carrying cash around.
Learn more in our article: Does Carrying Cash Save You Money?
16. Get a Rewards Card
Big oil companies offer great deals for saving too, but you need to sign up for their rewards program. Each program is different of course, some but Shell for example offers 5 cents per gallon off if you sign up with them. There’s no sense in not getting into one of these programs if you are planning to buy gas with a company that offers a loyalty program.
17. Get a Gas Credit Card
Typically gas prices are higher when you pay with credit. However large companies will often give out their own specific credit cards, and like loyalty rewards programs, these will often come with huge discounts on gas. Just make sure to pay them off at the end of each month so they don’t build up interest.
18. Buy Gift Cards for Gas Discount
You might not have thought about it, but yes there are gift cards for gas too. And there are some great ways to save money when buying gift cards. GiftCardGranny will sometimes carry cards for major suppliers. And while you’ll usually only find a deal worth 5 dollars off the value of the card, it’s still 5 bucks off the price of gas.
PlasticJungle is another great option to find some of these cards.
19. Don’t Buy Premium Gas if You Don’t Need It
There are so many misconceptions about octane out there, and it’s no wonder as to why. Gas stations make a fortune convincing people that higher octane fuel is better. But don’t be fooled.
Over at Howstuffworks there’s a great description as to what octane ratings actually mean. But I’ll give you the short version. High octane gas can be compressed more before it spontaneously combusts. In order to produce more power, high performance engines increase engine compression (think sports car engines). If the fuel explodes before the spark causes it to, then it’s called knocking, which can damage the engine.
So what does that mean for your car? Most likely that you are wasting money. If you don’t have a high performance engine, then increasing the octane rating does nothing for your car.
For the average car premium fuel does not:
- Increase fuel efficiency
- Prolong the life of your engine
- Increase power
- Make the engine run better
Higher octane ratings are only needed for cars which require them. A vehicle that is specified to run on 87-octane (low grade) fuel, gains nothing from premium gas.
The only time you should ever buy premium fuel, is if you are driving a car which clearly specifies that it needs it. Otherwise you are just wasting money.
20. Picking the Right Vehicle
Everybody knows that driving a smaller vehicle is going to help you save money on gas. But there is a heck of a lot more to it than that. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts.
For example, driving a hybrid may not always be better. Take a look at the Honda CRX. These weren’t the most popular car, but their fuel efficiency was legendary. Officially they got 41 MPGs in the city, and 50 on the highway. Not bad at all.
Alright, so years later the world wants to convince you that hybrids are the way to go, so Honda releases the spiritual successor to the CRX, the new Honda CR-Z. Want to take a stab at how many miles per gallon it gets? If you guessed more, then you’d be wrong! The CR-Z only gets 36 in town, and 39 MPGs on the highway. And as if that weren’t enough, it doesn’t even have significantly more power.
This is the reason why you need to pay attention to the actual numbers when buying a car. Just because something is a hybrid, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the most fuel efficient.
If you’re still looking for more ways to save on gas, then you may want to take a look at motorcycles, which regularly get 50 miles per gallon and above.
21. Practice Drafting
Ever watch NASCAR? If not then you aren’t alone, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But there is a lot you can learn about driving if you actually pay attention.
Drafting is a technique by which the drivers, position themselves behind another car to block the wind. They use it for a boost in speed, but you can use it for a boost in efficiency.
Say you are driving down the freeway, and you find yourself behind a large slow truck. You may be tempted to hit the gas and speed around him, but don’t. Not only will going slower increase your efficiency, but just having a large truck take the brunt of the wind can shave a couple of miles off each gallon.
Don’t get too close though, you don’t want to cause an accident if you have to stop suddenly.
Fun fact, this is the same reason why geese fly in V-formation.
22. Turn Your Headlights Off
Don’t get me wrong, if it’s night or particularly storm, you should have them on. But shutting them off when you don’t need them, will save you gas. Here’s how cars work, the motor turns an alternator to produce power, the more power you use, the more energy it takes. Which means you need more gas to keep the lights on.
This doesn’t just apply to headlights either, the stereo, charging your phone, all if it takes power. Though, I do have to mention, that this is practically negligible. The car turns the alternator either way. So while it does make a small impact, you probably wouldn’t notice it over the course of a month.
When trying to cut down costs at the pump, it’s important to note that maintenance severely effects gas expenditure. Here’s the tips which are the biggest factors in slashing your gas bill.
23. Check Your Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is one of biggest maintenance concerns when it comes to gas consumption. Having deflated tires puts more strain on the engine to go the same speeds. The Department Of Energy estimates that for every 1 PSI that your tires are low you are losing .3% of your fuel efficiency.
This one is so easy to take care of too. Just make sure to check your pressure regularly, and fill up your tires when needed.
24. Inspect Your Gas Cap
The gas cap is one of the most neglected pieces of a car. While it doesn’t really save you much money while you are driving, a bad cap will allow gas to evaporate out of your car even while it’s parked.
Take a good look to see if it’s sealing correctly. If not, then make sure to pick up a new one as soon as possible. This typically isn’t an issue on newer cars, as their fuel caps haven’t had as much time to break down. But if you want to know how to save money on gas, then making sure it’s not leaking when you aren’t driving it, is one of the best ways.
25. Change Your Filters
Changing your filters is key to improving your car’s performance. A clogged air filter can will reduce the amount of power that it puts out, meaning that you have to spend more on gas to achieve the same acceleration and speed. Change this out in accordance with your maintenance schedule.
You should also make sure to keep your oil filter regularly exchanged as well. If oil filters get too clogged, then they don’t allow oil to easily flow into the engine. This increases the total amount of friction in the engine by quite a bit. So just as with air filters, changing your oil filter effectively increases fuel mileage.
As a general rule of thumb you should replace your oil filter every three to six months.
26. Get a Tune Up
A tune up can breathe a whole lot of life into a car which is giving you problems. And a car that runs better is going to get better mileage.
With use, cars lose tension on key nuts and bolts, metal stretches, and as a result, many components need to be adjust. The process varies wildly from car to car however. With many newer vehicles able to go 100,000 miles between tune ups, and older cars having issues if they go over 10,000, it can be hard to tell when you need it. But there are guides for when to get a tune up online.
27. Get an Oil Change
Frequent oil changes will reduce the total amount of friction which your engine faces on a daily basis. In other words, it drops the total amount of gas needed for it to run, while increasing power at the same time. You should aim to change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on your driving conditions
28. Use the Right Oil
Using the wrong oil in your car will not only cause it to run less efficiently, but it can also cause serious damage, and void the warranty on newer cars. If you have any questions at all to what oil should be in your car, then check your owner’s manual.
Keep in mind that operating temperature often affects what rating of oil to use. If it’s cold where you live then you may need to switch from SAE 10w-30 to SAE 5w-30. Once again, your owner’s manual should cover this information.
29. Switch to Synthetic Oil
Making the switch to synthetic oil can be quite cost effective. Although, synthetic oils do cost more upfront, two to three times as much as regular petroleum based products. They also have a big impact in engine friction, and as a bonus they don’t break down as fast. Which means you can go longer between oil changes and it will protect your engine better in the long run.
30. Drive a Car with a Manual Transmission
Because of the way that automatic transmissions work, they are always going to be less efficient than manuals. If you are concerned with the price of gas when buying a car, then go for the manual option. They are a lot rarer these days, but manufacturers still make them.
31. Buy Slimmer Tires
An often overlooked factor when it comes to saving money on gas is tire width. And that is due in part to the fact that wider tires only usually come with performance packages. The idea is that when you have wider tires, you have more grip. So this increases handling, acceleration, and braking substantially.
The down side however, is that you have more surface contact with the road. Which means that you are going to have a lot more friction when you are just driving around. If you are buying a car, then check to see if you can get slimmer tires. Or you could even retrofit an older car, but this will require buying new rims. Still, the amount you save on gas and tires will eventually pay this off.
32. Get Your Alignment Checked
When your alignment is off, then your tires aren’t pointing straight. Which will cause them to rub on the road, and waste gas. This often has more notable issues with it, as you car will typically pull to one side, or chew through tires really fast. But even a slight amount of mis-alignment will cause a decrease in your overall miles per gallon.
If you think there is an issue with your alignment then go get it checked out. It’s relatively cheap, and has the added bonus of saving you money on tires as well.
The tips in this section will help you to save a good amount of money by planning out your driving and purchases ahead of time.
33. Plan the Best Route
The shortest distance between two points may be a line, however that isn’t always the most efficient route. When planning out your trips make sure to avoid schools, local events, and other heavy traffic areas. These will cause you to speed up and slow down frequently, especially if you are in true stop and go traffic. Sometimes it’s worth driving an extra block to not have to wade through busy streets during rush hour.
34. Fill Your Tank at State Lines
If you are traveling, then make sure to check the prices just beyond state lines. Because of the different taxes on gas, you will often find that there are huge discounts just for crossing the state line. You can actually research this ahead of time, and plan for it accordingly.
35. Get a Gas App
There are several apps which will seriously help you save money on gas. You might be able to get up to 20 cents a gallon off if you use them. Although, some apps are only available for certain phone platforms. So some of these may not be applicable for you.
These Apps are for IOS Only:
- AroundMe is an app which helps you find the best prices on just about everything near you, which includes gas.
- Fuel Finder was voted to be one of the best gas finding apps on the iPhone. It costs $2.99, but the prices are updated every 5 minutes, so you know you are getting the best deal.
- Gas Cubby is a little different than the rest of the apps on this list, as it not only helps you keep track of gas prices, but also your mileage and car maintenance. You can download it for free, then pay to remove ads if they are bothering you.
- Smart Fuel is another great app that helps you save money on gas. It doesn’t use prices reported from users though, it instead gets its information from a database. Which makes it quite reliable.
For Multiple Platforms:
GasBuddy will not only help you save, but it will help you if you don’t know where the closest gas station is too. Best of all, it’s available for practically every smartphone out there.
36. Buy Gas Storage
If you can afford it, and where you are living allows this, it’s a great idea to buy a place to store gas. Gasoline with stabilizer added can be stored for up to a year, so if you can set up a 50-500 gallon tank on your property then you’ll be able to avoid costly gas spikes. And with enough storage you could even skip buying gas in the summer months altogether.
This isn’t always an option, but if you can make it work then it’s great. Arranging a carpool with your coworkers will cut down significantly on the amount of gas that you have to buy. Well if you are the one driving, then it may actually go up, but you can charge them for the service which will cut down on costs overall.
38. Do All of Your Errands at the Same Time
Figure out everywhere you need to go for the week and plan to do as many of them as you can at the same time. You can then plot the best routes from each one to the other to optimize how much you can get done per how much money on gas you are spending. Even if it only saves you 10 bucks a month, that’s $120 a year.
39. Buy Gas On Wednesday Or Thursday
Gas prices often spike over the weekend, which means that if you plan out when you are buying you can save a few cents a gallon. Wednesday and Thursday receive the fewest customers, so gas stations typically lower their prices on these days to try and drum up sales. So if you can wait till next week to get gas, then plan to do it then.
40. Plan to Clean Out Your Car
Everything takes energy to move, and the more you have to move, the more you are spending on gas. So here’s another good reason to clean out your car(if you are one of the messy folks). On average, for every 100 pounds you put in a car you are decreasing its fuel economy by 1%.
So as it turns out, there’s a pretty good reason to not be lugging around a second apartment in your car, it’s costing you money. Now I know it may be convenient to have all that stuff laying around, and some things are definitely worth it. But you should make a point to go through the contents of your car once a month, and see if there isn’t anything that you could remove. Little things really do add up.
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In the end it’s all about planning and best practices. If you make a point to embed just one of these as a new habit every day, then you’ll be saving money on gas in no time.
If you still need to cut back on automotive costs, then check out our other article: How to Save Money on Car Insurance