You see it every time you pass a gas station, gas prices go so fast but seem to fall slowly. It makes you wonder how you can save on gas.
Even if you drive the same miles in the same vehicle getting the same gas mileage your monthly gas expense can still fluctuate due to the ever-changing price of fuel. That doesn't mean you're totally at the mercy of the pump.
A variety of ways can be used to reduce your gas bill. However, do not do something that will cost later or is more than you can afford now. Reducing your gas bill “at all costs” is not the way to go.
Let's look at how you can save on gas.
14 Ways to Save on Gas
#1 – Combine your trips as often as possible into as few trips as practical. Then plan the route based on your stops versus location from your destination. Try to reduce backtracking during your route, if possible set it so you make a loop catching each place in turn and ending up back at your destination. It is not intelligent to make your first stop the grocery store if you have six other stops in 90-degree heat. Take into account the stops themselves to ensure you do not leave food to roast during the remainder of your trip. It would be best to place shopping for food at the bottom of the list.
#2 – Do not purchase higher octane gasoline than your car requires. Check the owner’s manual. Use the minimum recommended octane for your vehicle. Purchasing higher octane may increase your mileage, but the cost per mile versus the cost per gallon will not equate out to savings in the long run.
#3 – Maintain your car properly, changing air filters, fuel filters, and keeping tires inflated. Clogged air filters reduce the volume of air getting to the cylinders, clogged fuel filters reduce the quantity of fuel reaching the cylinders, both increasing consumption. Anything that makes your car work reduces your mileage.
#4 – Remove items in the car that are not needed, sandbags to get through the snow in the dead of summer is dead weight increasing consumption. Boxes of books or items to take to storage if you are not going there this trip. Tires, toolboxes, floor jacks, anything not needed for the trip, besides basic hand tools, should be left home.
#5 – Do not put over-sized tires on your car. More contact between your tires with the road increases friction as well these tires weigh more and will reduce mileage.
#6 – Use your air conditioner over rolling down the windows at higher speeds. It has been proven that at higher speeds the drag placed on the vehicle’s body with windows open reduces mileage more than the air conditioner operating. However, don’t forego air conditioning on hot days just to save a penny in gas. The fuel savings are fractions of pennies in a tank of gas.
#7 – DO NOT remove your pickup’s tailgate, lower it, or replace it with a cargo net. Wind tunnel tests have confirmed that pickups get better gas mileage with a tailgate in place and CLOSED! This is because air gets trapped in the bed and acts as an air pocket. Air moving across the air pocket has no drag thereby not increasing fuel consumption. A lowered or removed tailgate forces the wind coming over the top of the cab to drop to the bottom of the pickup bed and drag across the bed reducing your gas mileage. Many mistakenly believe the tailgate acts as a sail across the back, but it has been proven false.
#8 – Do not jack-rabbit at stoplights, a slow-steady press on your accelerator to start your car moving and reach posted speed is best. Cars are different. Different cars have different speeds where they provide the optimal gas economy. For example, a midsize car might get the best gas mileage at 65MPH while. Newer model cars may have an “Eco” or “Economy” indicator on the dash to let you know when you're getting the best mileage. Take some time and write your mileage down at fill-up.
#9 – Determine your mileage by dividing the number of miles driven by the number of gallons it took to FILL the tank back to full (it doesn’t work very well if only a few dollars are put in at a time.) Document your driving habits with that tank. Over time, you will see the ranges your car performs the best at economically. NEVER go over the posted speed (or safe speed based on weather conditions) however.
#10 – Purchase a gauge that plugs into the OBD-II port that displays real-time gas mileage. This gives instant feedback on how your driving conditions at that moment are affecting your mileage. One such device is ScanGauge which will allow for instant display while driving (most 1996 and newer cars, verify compatibility before you order). Do not attempt to use other features unless you are familiar with the usage and how to properly implement it.
#11 – Do not rush out and trade off your gas hog SUV for an economical model. It is true you will save in gas, but high gas consumption SUVs are not selling well, and the savings from mileage will be lost in higher car payments (especially if the SUV was not paid for at the trade) resulting in higher monthly expenses in car payments. Do not put your finances upside down by trading if it is not in your budget to do so.
#12 – Use alternate means where possible to get around. If stores are in close proximity and your health and time permits, walk to those places. If you park in a large mall-type establishment with multiple businesses you will visit, do not drive your car among the different establishments, rather park in a central location and walk between the places only returning to your car to leave.
#13 – Use rewards cards. Many gas stations have rewards cards that save you cents per gallon without making any additional purchases. Two of our local stores offer 3-cents per gallon just by swiping at the pump. Sometimes you'll find additional savings if you make purchases. Be wise though, don't buy unnecessary, overpriced convenience store items just to reduce the price at the pump. In the long run, you won't be saving anything.
#14 – Use shopping rewards. Many grocery stores now offer gas and with that, rewards points. These points translate into cents off per gallon. The other day I got gas for $2.19 versus the posted price of $2.69. Again, don't go buying unnecessary things but if you do your normal grocery shopping at that store (and their prices aren't inflated terribly) then utilize their rewards points and cash in on some cents per gallon discounts.