Tips on How to Save Money on Gas
Any time you pull into a gas station, it can be a daunting experience. As you fill your tank up, the cash indicator rapidly ticks up with every gallon until you reach a full tank and an undesirable total. However, you can implement a few strategies to save money on gas at the pump, while driving, and through proper car maintenance.
Saving at the Pump
Saving money on gas at the pump is easy. Here are few ways to do it:
Use Apps to Find the Cheapest Gas
Take advantage of your smartphone and use apps to help you save at the pump. Gas price apps, such as GasBuddy, show you the price of gasoline at stations in your local area to help you find the cheapest gas. These apps are especially helpful when you’re on a road trip. Many gas stations located right off the highway or in the middle of a major city have higher gas prices, so using an app can help you find cheaper gas along your route.
Buy the Right Fuel
Unless your car’s manufacturer specifically requires premium gasoline or diesel, higher-octane fuel isn’t necessary or beneficial for most vehicles. This type of gas can cost around 20 to 40 cents per gallon more than regular unleaded gasoline, so save some money at the pump and fill your tank with normal gas.
Choose a Good Rewards Program
To make you a loyal customer, several gas station chains and grocery stores across the U.S. offer discounts on fuel. Each gas station or store has its own rules on how much you can save using its rewards program. Some programs may reward caps per quarter or year, while other stores — e.g., Costco and Sam’s Club — require a membership to save money on gas. Compare rewards programs to see which one best suits your needs.
Use a Rewards Credit Card
Whenever you’re at the pump, use a credit card that pays you cash back or one that lets you earn rewards points for buying gasoline. Before getting a rewards credit card, read through the credit card agreement to get an overview of the interest rates, annual fees, and other conditions of use. Consider paying your gas charges in full each month, so you’re not paying interest on them.
Saving While Driving
Here are a few tips on how to save gas while driving:
Watch Your Speed
Speeding decreases fuel economy due to tire rolling resistance and air resistance. If you drive over the speed limit, slow down or even use cruise control to help maintain your speed and consume less fuel. Also, driving at safe, reasonable speeds can help avoid accidents, which is one way you can help reduce your car insurance rate.
Plan Your Routes
Reduce the number of times you have to visit the gas pump by planning shopping trips and other outings more efficiently. For example, if you’re heading home from work, stop by the grocery store and do your shopping after work instead of waiting until the weekend. Also, some apps, such as Google Maps, show you fuel-efficient routes to get from point A to point B.
Reduce Your Idle Time
Idle time is when you start your car and let it run for a long time, usually waiting for other people to get in the vehicle, messing with your phone’s navigation system, or some other reason. Unless you're waiting in traffic, it’s important to not let your car idle. Idling wastes fuel and produces air pollution, so make sure you're ready to go before starting your engine.
Saving with Maintenance
Consider some of these general car maintenance tips for saving gas:
Keep Your Tires Aired Up
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, underinflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every pound per square inch (psi) that your tire deflates. Additionally, underinflated tires can cause loss of grip and make your driving more unstable, putting you at risk of being in a car accident. Properly inflate your tires to help improve your vehicle’s fuel economy and safety.
Don’t Skip Oil Changes
Regularly replacing your vehicle’s oil helps reduce friction in the engine, which can help give your car better gas mileage. Using the right type of oil for your vehicle is also important. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using the manufacturer’s recommended motor oil for your vehicle can improve your gas mileage by 1 to 2%.
Check Your Gas Cap
Make sure to screw your gas cap correctly to get the most out of your gas tank. An improper seal or missing cap can let gas evaporate from your tank. If your rubber seal is worn or damaged, replace it so you don’t keep wasting money and polluting the air.
Lighten Your Car
Your car will get better gas mileage when you have less cargo weighing down your vehicle. Scour your car and trunk to see if there’s anything heavy that you don’t need in there — e.g., sports equipment. Additionally, if you have an unused bicycle or ski rack attached to your vehicle, take those off since they add more weight and create wind resistance.
Whether you’re driving, performing routine maintenance, or filling your tank at the pump, there are plenty of ways to save money on gas. Consider incorporating these tips into your daily life and see how much you can save. Another way you can save money is by getting auto insurance from Mercury, providing reliable coverage at an affordable rate.