Driving a car is fun and makes for a more comfortable commute; however, the expensive cost of gasoline can make you rethink just how fun it is. Several changes can be made towards driving habits that help ensure your vehicle is fuel-efficient, therefore you spend less on gas.
Unfortunately, your vehicle fuel bill isn’t entirely in your control, especially when gas prices increase. A lot of people point a finger at the economy. We’re just the players, subject to whatever fees gas companies place outside the station.
Even so, you can become a cost-conscious driver and take action to reduce fuel consumption by changing your driving and gas-buying habits.
This blog outlines several tips for saving money on gas including saving on gasoline costs, making your vehicle more fuel-efficient, and points out which tips to stay away from.
What is the Best Way to Save Money on Gas?
Gasoline is a major expense, especially for those who have a long commute; this translates into thousands of dollars in fuel alone. Luckily, there are a few ways to save money on gas with these gas-saving tips:
- Join a gas station rewards program
- Get a warehouse club membership
- Use gas price comparison tools
- Rideshare whenever it is convenient
- Maximize your regular routes
- On your next purchase, buy a more fuel-efficient car
Most large gas station chains have a reward program that offers discounted gas. One tip is that if it is a credit card tied to the chain, consider getting that card solely for gas purchases and paying off the balance in full each month to maximize rewards without increasing your debt.
Some people feel weird about confessing their loyalty to a gas station, but they shouldn’t second guess it. The most important factors to consider are gas prices and whether the locations for the chain you choose are convenient.
In most areas, warehouse clubs such as Sam’s Club and Costco, also sell gasoline. They are competitive in the area, often with a lower price of anywhere from 5 cents to 25 cents per gallon. Although the membership will cost you an annual fee, the savings in gas purchases over time will make up for it.
Some websites and apps allow you to quickly check gas prices at stations near you. Use that information to find the cheapest gas price at a station on your route and refill soon – the prices aren’t always correct down to the minute.
Be careful chasing lower gas prices. There is a small breaking point where you spend more in travel, gas, time, and mileage than you save for a few cents off per gallon. If there’s a big difference in price, or you can justify the distance (it’s just another street up), this is a great plan. Think economically.
If you share a ride, you cut per-person fuel consumption in half. If some friends or coworkers live near you and travel the same places you do, ask to share a ride. You can split gas costs which helps you save money. Don’t be bashful about asking your passengers for their share of the gas money.
Warm engines run more efficiently than cold ones. By combining short errands into one trip, you save time and money on gas.
When shopping for your next car, place a high value on fuel efficiency and compare mile per gallon data on each of the makes and models you are considering. Small sedans, hybrid, and fully electric options will make a huge impact on your fuel expense.
Use Less Gas with These Simple Tricks
Regardless of the vehicle you drive, some simple techniques will help you save on gas. Good driving habits contribute to better fuel economy which saves money. These tips include:
- Perform routine maintenance
- Keep tires inflated to the ideal pressure
- Drive at moderate speeds
- Drive friendly
- Travel light; avoid heavy cargo
- Keep your car clean
- Use the highest gear possible
- Avoid excessive idling
Vehicles need the right proportions of air and fuel to run efficiently, meaning a well-maintained vehicle will run best. This can be done by having your oil, oil filter, and air filter changed as part of your regularly scheduled maintenance.
Under-inflated tires tend to decrease mileage and make driving dangerous. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation by looking on the inside of your car door or at your car’s manual to make sure your tires are inflated to the maximum PSI (pounds per square inch) when measured cold.
Although each vehicle varies, in most cases, driving over 50 miles per hour causes mileage to decrease. You can save gas by staying at or under the speed limit and driving at a consistent rate of speed. If you are traveling a long distance on the expressway, use cruise control.
Aggressive driving habits are huge fuel wasters; gunning the engine, speeding, screeching around corners, and jamming on the gas pedal. Driving in a friendly manner, as if each car around you contains someone you love, helps you save money on fuel, and is safer for everyone on the road.
Extra weight in the car creates a drag on the engine causing the engine to consume extra fuel. Check the trunk for any unnecessary items that can be stored somewhere else.
It may sound silly, but keeping your car’s exterior clean helps the car’s aerodynamics which affects the car’s fuel efficiency by reducing drag at high speeds. In addition to keeping your car clean, keep windows and sunroofs closed while on the expressway.
Driving at high speeds in lower gears burns a lot of gas. On a manual transmission, pay attention as you accelerate and shift into high gear; do this as soon as you reasonably can.
Idling burns a surprising amount of fuel, even more so than restarting the engine. If you need to wait in your parked vehicle for longer than two minutes, switch off the engine and only restart it when you are reading to continue driving.
How to Save Gas While Idling
Even when your car is idling, there are some strategies for gas-saving:
- Shift to neutral when stopped
- Shut off the engine when stopped
- Don’t rev the engine at stoplights or before shutting off the ignition
- If you are on an upward incline, hang on with the brake
- Don’t leave the car while it’s running
- Just go ahead and park the car so you can shut it off
If the vehicle is not moving but your engine is running, you are getting zero miles per gallon. Idling is not only frustrating, it’s a fuel-economy killer. If you shift your car into neutral, your engine calms and helps save gas. This is especially important if you are running the air conditioning.
If you are stopped for more than one minute, it consumes more gas than restarting the vehicle. This is not ideal at every red light you come to, but if there is a long line at the school pick-up or fast-food drive-through, turn off the engine.
Besides drawing attention to yourself, there is nothing to be gained by revving the car engine at a stoplight. If you find yourself pumping the gas pedal to keep the engine from dying, you should worry less about fuel economy and more about visiting a mechanic as soon as possible.
If you are waiting on an upward incline, using the brake to keep the car from drifting backward, not the clutch. Not only does it waste fuel, but it also strains the engine.
Don’t leave the engine idle while making a phone call or running into the store to pick up your dry cleaning. Yes, it keeps the interior warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but gasoline is burning away. You’re also asking for a thief to drive off with it.
Living in a city makes parking nearly impossible. Instead of zooming around trying to find the perfect spot, park your car as soon as possible. Even if you walk a little further, you are getting some exercise and allowing the car’s engine to cool completely.
Driving economically requires a few changes but can yield good gas savings.
How to Conserve Gas When Running Low
We’ve all been there: waiting until our next paycheck or hoping a gas station will suddenly appear even though our fuel tank is dangerously low; luckily there are steps to take in gas-saving that help avoid this situation.
Outside of remaining calm, evaluating the situation, and getting help, there is one thing you can do to conserve gas while running low: slow down. Any speed below 50 mph will help conserve fuel. Stay in the right lane and try to keep your foot on the gas pedal only to maintain a steady pace; coast downhill.
If you do run out of gas, consider calling for roadside assistance. It is not advised to carry gas around in unauthorized containers.
These Gas-Saving Tips do NOT Work
There is so much information on the internet it can be difficult to decipher which gas-saving tips will help you and which won’t. Some gas-saving tips are nothing more than urban legend. Avoid these myths.
The following commonplace words of wisdom are not recommended by mechanics:
- Using gasoline additives
- Turning off the air conditioner
- Buying gas early in the morning
- Buying fuel-saving gadgets
- Over-inflating the tires
Different stores and auto shops have fluids that promise to increase your fuel economy. Some drivers have gone as far as to suggest that adding a small amount of acetone to a tank of gas will help it burn more efficiently. While they may increase fuel economy slightly, the fluids often cost more than the gas.
It takes extra energy to run the air conditioner so the engine works harder and burns more gas, however, if you turn off the air conditioner you will probably have to open the windows. Opening the windows eliminates any fuel economy gain by creating aerodynamic drag.
Buying gas early in the morning supports the idea that liquids become denser at cooler temperatures, meaning the cool morning air will help you get more for your money. This is completely false as the gas you buy is stored in an underground tank where the temperature variation is only a few degrees.
There are a variety of fuel-saving gadgets on the market but the only thing impressive about them is their marketing. Steer clear of these gizmos.
Over-inflating the tires is a dangerous way to drive and decreases your fuel economy. Even 10 PSI over the recommended levels creates a more narrow contact patch where the tire touches the road. This means your traction is reduced, your braking distance is increased, and your tires wear out faster.
When gas prices spike, drivers love to share tips, but these tips are not worth sharing.
If you want to spend some money to save on gas, going to an auto shop and get an inspection. If your check engine light is on, you could be driving around an inefficient car that guzzles down fuel. The mechanic can clue you in as to what’s going on.
Gas-Saving Tips: Take Control of the Wheel
Some drivers believe fuel economy ratings are a fixed number; however, a vehicle’s fuel economy can vary significantly due to how the vehicle is driven, its condition, and the environment in which it is driven. Fortunately, you may be able to improve your vehicle’s gas mileage through some easy steps.
If the simple driving changes don’t help you save on fuel, consider carpooling with a friend or coworker to help save gas. You could also use public transportation.
Drivers spend a staggering amount of money on fuel. Help your vehicle’s efficiency and pocketbook by learning which changes you can make.