How to Save Money on Gas
Unless your car runs on electricity or literal horsepower, its fuel economy plays a key role in determining how much it costs you to get around. Although your vehicle’s factory specifications are an important element of determining how fuel efficient it is, there are many decisions and driving habits that influence how thirsty your car will be. From changing where you buy your gas to becoming a more considerate driver, you can save money on gas by following our tips.
Changing Your Driving Habits
The way you drive your car directly affects how efficiently it can run. Some tricks for increasing your gas mileage, such as accelerating more slowly, are fairly obvious, but you may be surprised at the impact that some of these tips can have on your mileage.
- Hitting the Gas Pedal Raises Fuel Consumption – It’s simple physics: When you drive faster, you increase the amount of drag that your engine will have to push through. For every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph, you’ll end up using more gas to drive the same distance; effectively, each 5 mph increase in your speed is like paying an extra $0.24 per gallon of gas.
- Hard Braking and Acceleration Will Drain Your Car Faster – Braking hard and stomping on the gas pedal whenever you have a stretch of open road is a great way to waste gas. Slow acceleration and gentle braking can help you use up to 20 percent less fuel. Resist the urge to tailgate the vehicle in front of you; avoiding a collision when you’re too close to another vehicle requires frequent speed adjustments, which ultimately leads to wasting gas.
- No Need for Excessive A/C Use – Your car’s air conditioner uses your engine to run; cooling your car forces your engine to work harder and burn through more gas. The strain of running your A/C at full blast on a hot day can cause you to use up to 20% more gas.
- Keep the Windows Closed – Feeling the wind in your hair may be invigorating, but keeping your windows rolled down destroys your car’s aerodynamic profile. With the windows down, the interior of your car acts like a drag chute at freeway speeds. Keep your windows up to reduce wind resistance and make your car run more efficiently.
- Cruise Control Rules it All – If your car has a cruise control system, you can save money on gas by using it frequently. Cruise control keeps your car at a steady speed, reducing the unnecessary acceleration and uneven speeds that are the result of manual speed control.
- Idling the Gas Away – Even if your car isn’t moving, your engine still consumes gas whenever you idle. These idle moments are a complete waste of gas; if you know you’re going to be stuck in the same spot for a while, such as while you wait for a drawbridge to lower, turn off your engine to save gas.
Proper Vehicle Management Saves Money, Even Gas
Keeping your vehicle in optimum condition can help you reduce your fuel use. Small inefficiencies can add up to significant amounts of wasted gas, so do your best to keep your car maintained to increase your fuel economy.
- Premium is a No-No, Unless Your Manufacturer Says So – Gas companies like to tout the benefits of their premium-grade gasolines, but these more expensive blends offer few tangible advantages for most vehicles. Unless your engine specifically requires premium gasoline, save at the pump by sticking with standard gasoline.
- Inflation, Inflation, Inflation – Keeping your tires properly inflated can help reduce wasted fuel. When your tires aren’t inflated properly, they develop rolling resistance that forces your engine to work harder to give you the same performance. Maintaining your tires to the manufacturer’s specifications can keep your fuel economy high.
- Rooftop Cargo is Bad for Mileage – Any time you add extra weight to your vehicle, you force your engine to work harder and use more gas to give you the same performance. Rooftop cargo carriers give you a double hit to your fuel economy; not only do they add weight to your vehicle, they also damage your car’s aerodynamic profile. Cargo carriers can reduce your fuel economy by as much as 25 percent.
- Oil Dictates How Much Gas You Use – Your engine is designed to work with specific types of oil. Using the correct grade of oil allows your engine to function as designed and work at optimum efficiency; the wrong type of oil can impede movement within your engine and lead to wasted gas.
Finding Cheaper Gas and More Ways to Save Money on Gas
Using less gas is definitely one way to reduce your gas bill, but you can also save by simply paying less for gasoline. From discount cards to warehouse gas stations, there are many ways to pay less for every gallon of gas.
- Finding Stations with Lower Prices – Buying gas at the first station you find may not always be the best decision when you’re trying to save money on gas. Some stations typically charge higher prices, especially those located at freeway exits. Gas stations in suburban areas that typically see less traffic often have cheaper gas. Using an app, such as GasBuddy, can help you find the cheapest stations.
- The Type of Station Plays a Role Too – Looking for the right type of station can help too; grocery and membership warehouse stores often offer cheaper gas. These businesses are less concerned about turning a profit on each gallon of gas; their low prices are used to lure shoppers into the store.
- Discounts, Discounts Everywhere – Discounts and coupons can help take the sting out of high prices at the pump. You can find coupons for gas in a number of locations, including online, weekly ads in the mail and on your latest gas station receipt. If the station has a car wash, you might be able to get a discount after using the car wash. Some credit cards offer rebates on gas purchases as well.
- Other Ways to go to Work – Using your car less will certainly help you spend less money at the pump. Finding new ways to get around town and to work can help you reduce your car usage. Setting up a carpool at work can help you save money on gas and give you the chance to socialize. If your city has a good public transportation system, taking the bus or the train occasionally might be an option. If your office or your home isn’t close to a public transportation stop, walking or riding a bike can help you get to the stop without a car.
Gas is a necessity for most drivers, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your car moving. Optimizing your driving behavior, staying on top of your car maintenance, and keeping your eyes open for money-saving opportunities when buying gas can help you keep your money out of your gas tank.