Practical Ways To Save Money On Gas

Gas prices are on the rise and people all over this country are searching for ways to fuel up their cars for less. It wasn’t that long ago that gas prices over a dollar per gallon were completely unheard of. Maintaining a car is now more expensive than ever.

You may not be able to stop gas prices from rising, but there are some ways that you can save a significant amount of money on fuel. Keep reading to find out how you can fill up your car for less.

Use Your Phone To Help Find The Cheapest Gas

GettyImages-837057366 Steven Smith, a GasBuddy user, displays the GasBuddy App on his mobile phone
Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

There are plenty of gas apps out there that make it easy to find the cheapest gas stations near you. Apps such as GasBuddy and Waze keep track of gas prices so you don’t have to.

You can even use these apps to set up alerts so you can fill up whenever gas prices are down (not just when your tank is almost empty). Downloading a gas app is the first step towards becoming a thrifty driver.

Don’t Wait Until The Weekend To Fill Up

GettyImages-97962752 A gasoline station attendant pumps diesel into a car at a filling station on March 23, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
Photo Illustration by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

GasBuddy collects a lot of data on gas prices, and according to a price analysis they did in 2018, gas prices are the lowest on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays.

Monday is a particularly good day to fill up your car with fuel. It was also the least expensive day of the week in GasBuddy’s 2017 study. Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, explained, “though there is variation in daily gas prices across different states, the consensus is that the earlier motorists fill-up during the week, the better. Following Monday, Sunday is the cheapest day to fill-up. Conversely, Thursday follows Friday as the most expensive day to fill-up.”

Don’t Have Your Pedal To The Metal

GettyImages-52511038 Lisa Troyke uses her credit card to pay for her SUV gas purchase at a Speedway gas station
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Sudden shifts in speed require more gas than gradual shifts in speed. The faster you accelerate, the more gas you’re going to use up.

Going from zero to one hundred real quick may seem like fun, but it’s actually very wasteful when it comes to fuel. Be especially mindful of this when you’re getting up to speed on the freeway. Use the whole length of that ramp to match the flow of traffic.

Try Not To Use Your Heater Or Air Conditioning

GettyImages-943812902 A sign displaying the price of gasoline per gallon is seen at a BP gas station
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

We know it gets hot in the summer, but instead of blasting your air conditioning, why not roll down your windows? When you’re not moving at high speeds, it does save fuel to turn off the A/C and let the outside air in. When you’re moving very quickly, open windows can actually create drag on your vehicle, which ends up using more fuel than the air conditioner.

The heater in your car also takes a toll on your fuel economy. Keep it on low if you need to use it at all.

Your Car Might Not Need Premium

GettyImages-1140674359 gas station A recreational vehicle stops for gas and is fully prepared for a road trip with an RV, Jeep, Kayak and bicycles
Photo by Paul Harris/Getty Images
Photo by Paul Harris/Getty Images

Many run of the mill cars don’t actually need higher-octane gas. Spending more on premium gas won’t do your car any good unless your particular vehicle requires premium gas. Premium gas costs around 20 or 40 cents more per gallon than regular gas.

Keep this in mind when you’re buying or leasing a car too. If you want to save money on gas, don’t drive a car that requires more expensive fuel. Basic cars are best.

Some Stations Offer Rewards

GettyImages-174263786 In this photo illustration, a man uses a fuel dispenser to fill his car up with petrol at a petrol station
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Many gas stations team up with grocery stores and other retailers to offer rewards programs. These programs turn you into a loyal customer and they can also help you save a bunch of money on gas.

GasBuddy has its own rewards program that you can join for free. With “Pay with GasBuddy” you can save between 5 and 10 cents per gallon each time you fill up your car. There is also a paid version of the program that can save you even more cash.

Use A Rewards Credit Card

GettyImages-73517851 David Baldocchi uses his credit card to pay for gas at a Union 76 gas station March 7, 2007 in San Francisco,
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Loyalty programs aren’t the only way to save money at the pump. You can also sign up for a credit card that allows you to earn rewards points when you pay for gas.

Just make sure you read the fine print very carefully. Also, make sure you actually do the math to verify that you aren’t paying more for the credit card than you’re saving on gas. If you pay off all of your charges on time, you could save a lot of money on gas.

If You Don’t Have A Card, Cash Is Your Best Option

GettyImages-803378948 An Egyptian petrol station worker counts cash collected from customers, in the capital Cairo on June 29, 2017. Egypt ann
Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

I know we just told you to look into a rewards credit card, but sometimes, paying with cash really is the way to go. Some gas stations will actually let you pay less per gallon of gas if you pay with cash instead of a credit card.

That’s because they’re trying to avoid processing fees. Each time you use a credit card, some of the money from your purchase goes towards the credit processing company.

Gift Cards Can Be A Lifesaver

GettyImages-485934243 Gabrielle Smith pumps gas at the Victory gas station on April 21, 2014 in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Have you ever received a gift card you know you’re never going to use? Well, you’re not alone. When out of touch relatives give generous gift cards to people who’d rather just have cash, those gift card recipients go on sites like Raise or Gift Card Granny to swap their cards for cash.

That means that you can buy a gift card for less than it’s actually worth, and if you find gas station gift cards on those sites, you can save a bunch of money on gas.

Find A Carpool Group To Join

GettyImages-81030595 People wait in line to be picked up by a motorist willing to carpool May 8, 2008 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Carpooling is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most fun ways to save money on gas. Who wants to spend time in a car alone when you can spend time in a car with your friends? If you live near your co-workers, or if you and your friends have similar work schedules, create a system that lets everyone drive less each week.

You’ll save on gas, and you’ll help save the environment. It’s a win-win situation.

Plan Ahead For Any Problems On The Road

GettyImages-1149449353  Detail of a man holding up an Honor 20 Pro smartphone with the Uber transport app visible on screen,
Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images via Getty Images
Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images via Getty Images

Each time you take a wrong turn, you’re using up gas that doesn’t need to be used up. If you plan your route ahead of time, there’s a much lower chance of you taking one (or two) wrong turns. Planning ahead can also help you find the quickest route, which will save you gas and time.

Also, try to divide your weekly tasks up into geographical areas so you’re not driving back to the same spot three or four times a week. If you work near a grocery store, do your shopping before you head home. Don’t drive back out to where you just came from.

Try Not To Sit Around

GettyImages-164234741 Jennifer Slater's GMC SUV has technology to aid drivers on certain car functions. The icon on the upper right is indicating low tire pressure.
Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

If you’re waiting to pick up a friend, or you’re inputting directions into your GPS, don’t do it while your car is running. You should be ready to hit the road as soon as you put your keys in the ignition.

Idling wastes gas and causes air pollution. Reduce the amount of time that you spend idling, and make sure to turn off your car or your engine if you’re stopped for an extended period of time.

Cruise Around When You Can

GettyImages-976185040 Woman driving an air-conditioned car, Island of Ibiza, Balearic islands, Spain.
Photo by Mediacolors/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images
Photo by Mediacolors/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

Most of the time, using cruise control will save fuel because staying at a steady speed and not accelerating saves fuel. The only time cruise control will actually use excess fuel is when you’re driving in hilly areas.

If you’re driving on a long, flat highway, definitely turn on your car’s cruise control function. Cruise control will save you money on gas, and it will ensure that you don’t go over the speed limit, thereby saving you from having to pay speeding tickets.

Don’t Drive So Fast

GettyImages-465175874 man filling gas
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If the threat of a ticket isn’t enough to make you want to slow down, it may interest you to know that speeding actually reduces your fuel economy. The faster you drive, the more wind resistance you face.

Air will fight against your car, which means that your car needs to use more fuel to move forward. Always obey speed limit signs while driving. Follow this tip and you’ll be a safer and richer driver.

Your Tire Pressure Could Be Costing You

GettyImages-1055235330 Checking tire pressure on a car fitted with winter tyres.
Photo by Dmitry FeoktistovTASS via Getty Images
Photo by Dmitry FeoktistovTASS via Getty Images

Did you know that having underinflated tires can lower your gas mileage? Underinflated tires can actually cost you around 2 cents per gallon, according to the calculations of the U.S. Department of Energy.

There are many ways to make sure that your tires are properly filled. Consult your car’s owners manual or ask a professional for help. Every time you get your car serviced, somebody experienced should make sure that your tires are filled properly.

Your Gas Cap Might Not Be Sealed Properly

GettyImages-73467112 A petrol pump attendant filling up a Chrysler car at an Amoco station, 1958.
Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A broken gas cap may be costing you more money than you think. If your cap’s seal is broken, gas can evaporate right out of your tank. All of that gas gets into the environment and pollutes the air, not to mention that every gas particle in the air is a gas particle not in your car.

Check to make sure that your gas cap closes properly, and replace the rubber seal if it gets damaged.

Take Some Junk Out Of Your Trunk

GettyImages-928028678 Sign at 76 gas station in Lafayette, California, showing high gas prices,
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Image
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Image

It takes more fuel to move a heavy car. Make your car as light as it possibly can be to save money on gas. Take anything you don’t need in your car out of your car. That’s right, your smelly gym bag too. Take it in the house and wash it for goodness sake. Your nose and your wallet will thank you.

Cars shouldn’t be storage lockers. Those seats are for drivers and passengers only.

Remove Your Bike Racks To Lessen The Load

GettyImages-543750252 Cyclists transport their bicycles on bike racks mounted to the rear of their cars enroute to trailheads and cycling meetup points
Photo by April Greer For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Photo by April Greer For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Speaking of making your car lighter, don’t leave your bike rack on your car all year round. If you’re not constantly using the rack, take it off of your car until you need to use it again. The same goes for ski racks and any other kinds of racks you might have attached to your vehicle.

Not only do racks add extra weight to your car, but they also increase wind resistance. More wind resistance means more fuel required.

Make Sure You’re Using The Right Oil

GettyImages-615558474 BP petrol station Forecourt circa 1972.
Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

It’s very important to be educated about what type of oil is best for your car because the wrong type of oil can cost you 3 to 5 cents per gallon of gas. Read up on your car’s specific requirements and use the brand of oil that the manufacturer recommends.

Synthetic motor oil actually does a better job than conventional motor oil when it comes to saving you money on gas. While you’re getting your oil changed, make sure to check your air filters. A clogged air filter can also affect your gas mileage.

Make Your Next Car A Fuel Efficient Car

GettyImages-74229904 Amy Foley of Washington, DC, swipes her credit card as she prepares to fill her car with gas at an Exxon station
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re really dedicated to spending less money on gas, make sure the car you’re driving is a fuel-efficient. Always check the MPG or miles per gallon rating on a vehicle before you commit to purchasing it.

Hybrid cars and electric cars are the best when it comes to saving money on gas, but traditional motor vehicles also have varying degrees of fuel efficiency. Do your research, consult some experts, and choose a car that suits your lifestyle.