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Gas is expensive (in case you haven’t noticed). And as each decade passes, the price for the refined dinosaur juice that makes our cars go keeps climbing higher and higher.
What’s a person to do?
If you’re wondering about how to save money on gas, it’s important to realize that you do have options.
Eventually, I do believe that gasoline-powered vehicles are going to be phased out and replaced with electric vehicles. The writing is on the wall. Several car manufacturers have already introduced all-electric vehicles, and other companies are developing electric vehicles of their own.
Electric vehicles do have their advantages. They are more reliable than gasoline-powered vehicles because they only have one moving part, the motor. And charging an electric vehicle is much more affordable than filling up with gas. Electricity is just a small fraction of the cost of gasoline.
But electric vehicles aren’t mainstream – yet.
For now, at least, most of us are stuck with vehicles that run on expensive gasoline. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to reduce the pain at the pump. I’m going to tell you about 25 things you can do to save money on gas.
Let’s explore some great ways you can lower the cost of driving…
1. Use the GetUpside App
The GetUpside app is a great way to save money on gas. The app has formed partnerships with thousands of gas stations to give you cashback on your gas purchases. It can also be used to find the best deals on gas in your area.
In addition to using the GetUpside app to save money on gas, it can also be used to save money on groceries and at restaurants in certain areas.
2. Use the GasBuddy App
GasBuddy is an app that you can download for your smartphone that helps you find the best prices on gas all across the nation. You can look up prices for major cities, and the app also lets you select a state and search by county.
GasBuddy also has a trip planner and gas estimator so you can estimate how much fuel you’ll use on your next road trip.
3. Don’t Buy Premium Gas If Your Car Uses Regular
This is a common mistake that many make. Many believe that premium gas is higher quality gas and, therefore, better for your car.
But this isn’t necessarily true. You only need to buy premium gas if your vehicle owner’s manual calls for it.
The reason for this is some vehicles were designed specifically for regular gas, and putting premium (more expensive) gas in them doesn’t make them run any better. The only thing it does is cost you more money.
Yes, some cars were designed for premium gas. And if your vehicle owner’s manual says you need premium gas, then you should be buying premium gas. The important thing is to always check the owner’s manual and go with the type of fuel it recommends.
4. Fill up at Your Local Wholesale Club
Wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco often sell discounted gas to their members. They usually have gas stations right at their stores. If you are already a member of one of these wholesale clubs, it might be worth it to buy gas there when you go shopping.
It probably isn’t worth buying a wholesale club membership just for the discounted gas. But if you already have a membership at one of these places, you may be able to save a little on gas by filling up your tank when you do your shopping.
Another thing to consider is how often you shop at wholesale clubs. If you only shop at one of these places on occasion, or if you have to drive out of your way to get to your local wholesale club, you may be better off buying your gas at other places.
5. Buy a More Fuel-Efficient Vehicle
I call this the nuclear option.
If you have a vehicle that doesn’t get very good gas mileage and you have to drive a lot, it may make financial sense for you to trade your vehicle for one that gets much better gas mileage.
Vehicles are becoming increasingly more fuel-efficient. It wasn’t very long ago that 30 mpg was considered excellent gas mileage. Today, many small cars easily get 40 mpg on the highway. And there are also hybrid vehicles that now get 50+ mpg for both city and highway combined.
Whether buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle makes sense for you depends on your situation. It just depends on how much you drive and how much your current vehicle is worth. It’s a personal decision you’ll have to make after carefully considering a variety of factors.
It’s also worth noting that there may be some situations where buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle may not make financial sense. For example, if you’re thinking about spending $30k to buy a new hybrid to save $1k in gas each year and your current vehicle is still in good condition, keeping and driving the vehicle you already own may be the smarter choice.
6. Cut Back on Unnecessary Driving
Although it may sound like a no-brainer, cutting back on unnecessary driving is a great way to save money on gas.
When I was a kid, my parents used to enjoy taking the family for long drives somewhere. It was like we were going on a little adventure. But with gas prices the way they currently are, those excursions are no longer practical.
One way you may be able to save money on gas is by combining errands. If you know you have to go to the grocery store, return books to the library, and visit the DMV to renew your license sometime this week, why not combine all of your errands and make one trip to take care of everything?
Another way you can cut back on unnecessary driving is to carpool as often as possible. Maybe there’s someone you can ride back and forth to work with (if you commute a long-distance). Perhaps you could drive one week and your coworker could drive the next.
7. Ditch the Work Commute
One of the main reasons why many drive as much as they do is to commute to and from work. And for some, their commutes are very long. By ditching the commute, you may be able to save a lot on gas.
But how can you continue working if you don’t drive to your workplace?
You switch to a remote job and work from home – that’s how you make it happen.
This is not an option that will work for everyone. It depends on what you do for a living. Most people who work in the medical field, for example, won’t be able to work from home.
So, how do you find a remote job?
It’s actually not as hard as you might think. The best way to do it is through Flexjobs. Flexjobs is a website that curates the best work-at-home jobs available. Many big-name companies have had jobs listed on the site including Aetna, Xerox, SAP, Hilton Hotels, and many others.
8. Take the Shortest Possible Route
Sometimes it’s fun to take the scenic route, especially when it’s a nice day outside or the gorgeous pastels of autumn are on display. But if you’re not taking the shortest route possible to your destination, you’re using more gas than is necessary.
If you are planning a long trip by car, it’s a good idea to figure out which route is the shortest and fastest so you can save as much fuel as possible. Mapquest is a great tool you can use to obtain this information.
9. Avoid Stop-and-Go Traffic (If Possible)
You’ll use more fuel in stop-and-go traffic than if you travel straight to your destination with minimal interruptions. All of that starting, stopping, idling, and then starting again burns more fuel than many realize.
Stop-and-go traffic isn’t as big of a deal though if you have a hybrid vehicle. In most hybrid vehicles, the gasoline engine turns off in this type of traffic and doesn’t restart again until you’ve reached a certain speed. This is the reason why many hybrids have similar mpg ratings for both city and highway driving.
It may not always be possible to avoid stop-and-go traffic, especially if you live in a city or it’s rush hour (or both), but if you can plan a route around all of the traffic madness, you may be able to not only save some gas but time as well.
10. Slow Down
Speeding isn’t just unsafe, it can also cause you to use more gas. If you drive fast on the highway, your gas mileage will suffer.
But don’t just take my word for it.
According to Edmunds, most cars achieve their best fuel efficiency ratings between 40 and 60 mph. The average car in the United States weighs about 4,000 lbs. That’s a lot of mass when you think about it. The faster you drive, the more gas you have to burn to move that mass through the wind resistance.
11. Use the Correct Rim and Tire Size for Your Vehicle
Many people put aftermarket rims on their vehicles to improve looks or increase the “cool factor.” Many truck and SUV owners also like to jack their rides up and put oversized rims and tires on them. But if you don’t use the right size rim and tire for your vehicle, it may cause you to use more fuel.
The engineers who designed your car, truck, or SUV selected the rim and tire sizes that they did for a reason. They selected the options that they believed would give you the best combination of ride quality and fuel efficiency. If you change the size of the rims and tires on your vehicle, it could negatively affect how your vehicle rides, handles, and how much fuel it burns.
12. Skip the E85 Ethanol
Many vehicles these days were designed to use either gasoline or a blend known as E85 ethanol (flex-fuel). As the name suggests, E85 is 85% ethanol and the remaining 15% is gasoline.
E85 was created as a way to use renewable fuels instead of drilling for nonrenewable petroleum. It was supposed to be a way to help the environment by growing our fuel instead of extracting it from the ground.
But E85 has problems.
Ethanol is a form of alcohol that is derived from corn. Although the idea for E85 originally sounded great, the production of this biofuel has been controversial because of all of the land that is needed to grow corn to make the fuel.
It is also believed that ethanol production has caused the overall cost of corn to increase, which has resulted in higher food prices. The debate continues as to whether E85 is actually beneficial for the environment or whether its pros outweigh its cons.
The problem with using E85 in your vehicle (assuming your vehicle is flex-fuel capable) is that most vehicles will not be able to travel as far on a gallon of E85 as they will with regular gasoline. According to the EPA, you’ll get about 7 mpg less with E85 than you would with regular gasoline. That’s a major difference!
13. Turn the Engine Off Instead of Idling
If your vehicle is not moving and you are running the engine, you are getting zero miles per gallon. How’s that for a terrible mpg? With engine idling, a Honda Civic will essentially get the same mpg as a large truck – zero.
If you know you aren’t going to be moving your vehicle for a couple of minutes, consider turning the engine off to save fuel. Instead of going through the drive-through at your bank, for instance, consider parking and going inside. Convenience often comes at a price.
14. Roll up Your Windows
Your vehicle is a large mass that is constantly pushing against the air around it to move forward. The less drag it has, the less fuel it needs to operate.
You can reduce the wind resistance and potentially improve your fuel economy by cleaning up the things that cause drag. Think about how smooth and sleek most airplanes are. They usually don’t have any unnecessary things hanging off of them to slow them down.
You can improve your vehicle’s aerodynamics by rolling up your windows and removing any extra things on your vehicle like bike racks, ski racks, or overhead storage pods that increase wind resistance. The easier it is for your vehicle to slice through the wind, the less energy it will need to move down the highway, thus resulting in a better fuel economy.
15. Don’t Fill Up at Gas Stations Near the Highway
Those who own gas stations near highways know that many of their customers are people who were traveling and then suddenly realized they needed fuel. They then took the next available exit and pulled into the first gas station they came to.
That’s why gas stations near the highway are usually more expensive than others. They know that customers often need what they are selling and don’t have the option of shopping around for the best price.
You can avoid the “gotcha” highway gas station prices by planning ahead. Make sure you have plenty of fuel before setting out on your trip. And while you are traveling, be sure to monitor your fuel levels closely so you don’t end up in a situation where you are about to run out of fuel and gas stations beside the highway are your only option.
16. Fill up Before Your Tank Is Empty
This one goes in hand with the previous strategy on saving money.
If you wait until you are about out of gas to fill up, you may be tempted to buy gas from whatever station is convenient. You may not have any choice. But if you fill up long before you get anywhere near running out, it gives you the opportunity to shop around for the best price.
Not all gas stations have the same prices, and some are definitely more affordable than others. If you are traveling, for instance, you could top off your tank when you need to stop and rest awhile, eat lunch or dinner, or for some other reason. As you drive through whatever town you happen to be in, be sure to check gas prices to see which station offers the best deal.
17. Make Sure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated
Tires that are not properly inflated may reduce your gas mileage more than you realize. Not only that, but tires that are either under or over-inflated will wear out quicker than tires that are maintained at their recommended PSI.
It’s important to keep in mind that tire pressure can fluctuate depending on the outside air temperature. Because of this, it’s important to check your vehicle’s tire pressure regularly.
18. Calm Down
Another way to save money on gas is to drive in a calm manner. This just means avoiding rapid acceleration and high speeds. Aggressive driving is a major factor in reduced fuel efficiency – and it’s also a very easy thing to change to help save money on gas.
You might be surprised by how much gas you can save by losing the lead foot.
According to a test conducted by Edmunds, driving calmly can result in as much as a 38% increase in fuel efficiency. That’s not an insignificant amount.
19. Join a Fuel Rewards Program
Many gas stations now offer fuel rewards programs that give you a discount on your purchases. The reason they offer these programs is to try to turn you into a repeat customer. They aren’t doing it to be generous – they want your business!
Most large gas station chains now offer these programs. You can check their websites to see if they offer a rewards program and to see what you have to do to sign up and to check out the rewards they offer.
After you sign up for one of these programs, you will receive a card to swipe every time you buy gas. You usually have to swipe the card first and then pump your gas to qualify for the rewards. Some rewards programs offer discounts on gas, while others may offer discounts on food and other merchandise purchased inside.
20. Buy Gas with a Rewards Credit Card
Another way to save money when you buy gas is to pay for the gas using a credit card with a rewards program. This way, you can get a little cash back with each purchase you make. Some rewards programs also offer points you can use towards the purchase of products.
You do have to be careful when using a credit card to pay for gas. It’s vitally important that you can pay your credit card balance in full each month for this to work. If you charge gas to a credit card and then carry a monthly balance, you’ll have to pay interest on that balance. And that negates the benefits of using rewards credit cards in the first place.
21. Pay for Your Gas with Gift Cards
Taking online surveys is a great way to earn gift cards you can use for various purchases. These online surveys are often fun to take, and you can complete them in your spare time.
Survey Junkie and Swagbucks are two survey sites that let you cash out the rewards you earn for gift cards. You can then use those rewards cards to purchase gas.
Buying discounted gift cards is another way to save money on gas. Raise and Gift Card Granny are two sites that sell gift cards for less than their full value.
22. Lighten Up
As previously mentioned, the average vehicle weight in the United States is 4,000 pounds. If you can reduce the weight of your car, you’ll use less fuel.
This strategy is mainly for those who carry a lot of extra (and often unnecessary) things with them everywhere they go. Many tend to throw things in the trunks of their cars and then forget about them. If you do this, you’re just lugging around extra weight that could be decreasing your gas mileage.
23. Use Cruise Control
Cruise control can help you save money on gas by setting and maintaining a constant highway speed. If you speed up and slow down a lot, this will cause you to use more gas. By maintaining a steady speed, however, you don’t have to accelerate as much, thus saving gas.
As an added benefit, using cruise control can help you stay legal by preventing you from driving faster than the posted speed limit. Saving money on transportation isn’t just limited to gas. Tickets can be expensive!
24. Use the Correct Motor Oil for Your Vehicle
Different vehicles were designed to use different grades of motor oil. And if you use the wrong grade when you change your oil, it can negatively affect your fuel efficiency. Not only that, but there’s also the possibility that it may damage your engine.
If you are unsure of which grade of motor oil to use in your vehicle, check the owner’s manual. The owner’s manual will also tell you how often the manufacturer recommends you change your vehicle’s oil.
25. Track Your Efforts
After you’ve implemented some strategies to save money on gas, track your efforts to see how you’re doing. This can actually be fun, and it’s very easy to do, too!
Every time you fill up your tank, reset your odometer. Then when it’s time to fill up again, see how far you can go on a tank of gas. You can keep a notebook in your glove box to record your gas mileage to see how you’re progressing over time.
How to Save Money on Gas – Final Thoughts
Driving is something that most of us have to do. It isn’t always optional. But that doesn’t mean we have to be a slave to the increasing costs of fuel.
Yes, it’s definitely possible to save money on gas. By implementing some simple strategies, you may be able to reduce the amount of fuel you use and extend the distance you can travel between fill-ups.
You may be able to see some results by implementing one or two of the strategies in this article. But to maximize your savings, consider implementing as many fuel-saving strategies as possible. The more things you do to save money on gas, the less pain you’ll feel at the pump.