How to Save Money on Gas
18 Ways to Save Money on Gas
A few simple changes to your driving and gas-purchasing habits can improve your mileage per gallon and reduce the amount you have to spend on gas each week.
Before you drive: Gas savings begin before you even start your car. Here are some tips to improve your gas mileage without even leaving your driveway:
1. Check your tire pressure: Underinflated tires increase friction and reduce mileage. They’re also dangerous to drive on. Know the recommended pressure for your tires, and check regularly to make sure you’re maintaining that pressure.
2. Reduce drag: Roof racks and other fixtures on the hood of your car increase wind resistance, which lowers mileage per gallon.
3. Reduce weight: The heavier your car, the less fuel efficient it is. Don’t drive around with unnecessary weight in your car. Empty the trunk and take out any heavy items that you don’t need.
4. Check your gas cap: Car fuel systems are supposed to be air tight. If you’ve lost or broken your gas cap, fuel can evaporate right out of your tank, which can end up costing you a lot of money over time. Direct sunlight makes this process happen faster, so park in the shade to be extra safe.
5. Go green: Nearly half of a two-car family’s carbon footprint comes from their vehicles (see infographic). You can cut down on your emissions and see savings by taking public transportation, carpooling, or riding your bike to work. Even changing your commute habits once or twice a week will make a difference.
|Infographics: Frugal Commuter © CreditDonkey|
Your driving style can significantly impact your car’s mileage per gallon, which will affect how much you spend on gas. Here are some tips to get the most out of each gallon:
6. Back off the brakes: Your car uses the most gas when it accelerates, and every time you brake you have to speed up again. Braking also cut short the momentum your car used gas to create. Whenever possible, aim for a smooth, consistent ride; once your car reaches a driving speed, it will use very little gas to maintain it.
7. Anticipate stops: Since braking wastes momentum, slow down gradually before a stop sign or red light.
8. Drive slower: Research shows that wind resistance negatively affects gas mileage as speed increases. Unless you’re driving a high performance sports car, engine efficiency decreases as well. Regularly driving at speeds above 70 mph will cost you extra money in gas each week.
9. Be smart about the AC: Both putting on the air conditioner and rolling down your windows will reduce mileage. Use the AC on the highway when high speeds will cause an increase in wind resistance caused by open windows. And roll down your windows when driving at lower speeds.
10. Turn right: It may not seem like it makes much difference, but turning right is much more efficient than turning left. This is because turning left usually requires a longer wait since you’re crossing two lanes of traffic, while turning right may not require any complete standstill. If you don’t believe us, check out this article about the reduction UPS has seen in gas usage since it reworked its delivery routes to include as many right turns (instead of lefts) as possible.
11. Turn your car off: You use some gas every time you turn on your car, but the amount used for each ignition turn is less than the amount you’d burn by idling for 20 seconds or more. Turning your car off at traffic lights might be a bit excessive but can be worth it when you know you’ll be stopped for more than one minute.
At the Gas Pump
When you have to stop to fill up your tank, here are some ways to get the most out of your gas money:
12. Choose the right gas station: Filling up at off-brand gas stations will probably save you a few cents per gallon, and there isn’t any real difference in the quality of the gas. It’s also a good idea to avoid gas stations right near highways or ones in very rural areas with no competition. These stations tend to charge more per gallon.
13. Fill up efficiently: Don’t stop for gas when you don’t need it. Unnecessary topping off of your tank hurts your gas mileage in two ways – it makes your car heavier, which reduces gas efficiency, and it uses up gas on the extra trip. When you do go to the station, always fill up, to reduce your overall number of trips.
14. Buy low octane gas: Most cars don’t need high octane gas – regular, or 87 octane, is probably fine. Check your owner’s manual to be sure, but always buy the lowest octane recommended by the car’s manufacturer.
15. Sign up for gas rewards: A number of credit cards offer rewards and cash back on gas purchases. Even if it’s only a few percentage points on each transaction, when gas is a big part of your weekly budget, the savings will add up over the course of a year.
On a Road Trip
16. Use cruise control wisely: If your car has cruise control, use it on the highway to maintain a constant speed and improve mileage. Cruise control can’t anticipate hills or stops, though, so for non-highway driving, you’ll drive more efficiently without it.
17. Choose a different route: Try to choose a route that includes as few traffic lights, stop signs, and congested areas as possible. The goal is to reduce the amount of time you spend at a standstill in transit, so a route that includes back roads and less traveled streets will get you the best mileage.
18. Shop around electronically: Mobile apps, like GasBuddy, can help you find the cheapest station wherever you are.
The best way to save money on gas is to not drive at all. For most people, that’s not an option. Fortunately, when you make a concerted effort to drive more fuel efficiently and act smarter about your gas purchases, you will see a difference in your wallet.
(Graphic Research by Kelly; Graphic Design by Estefan)
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Leah Norris is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped families make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)
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