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It’s summer road trip time, and you’re going to have to gas up. We found 31 ways to save on gas.
Gas prices are up a whopping 31% from last summer, averaging $2.97 a gallon.
We don’t want the soaring cost to eat into your summer vacation budget though. You need that money for drinks served in coconut shells! You can take some of the sting out of the prices at the pump though with these tips to save on gas.
1. Drive Less
In the sake of full disclosure, I don’t drive; I don’t have a car or even a driver’s license. So I’m well qualified to show you that it’s possible for most people to drive less than they do now.
I’m not going to suggest getting rid of your car; I realize not everyone lives in a place that has good infrastructure for biking or even walking or that has good public transit options. And some people genuinely enjoy driving. My boyfriend does, an eight-hour drive is a weekend road trip to him.
But many people drive more than is necessary and that costs money, not only for gas but for maintenance and repairs for your car too.
Most people probably put the most miles on their cars through their work commute. Is it feasible to walk, bike, or take public transit to work, at least some of the time? You might not want to do it on days with poor weather, but a spring bike ride or a fall walk might be possible.
If traffic is bad where you live, walking or biking might even be faster. Cyclists and pedestrians don’t have to wait in traffic jams. If you’re too far from your place of work to walk or bike, can you telecommute sometimes? Even one day a week would be a saving.
The number of people telecommuting between 2007-2017 increased by 115%, so it’s no longer a foreign concept to employers.
Is it possible to start a carpool with some of your co-workers? Much like telecommuting, carpooling is on the rise. It’s not always the most convenient option, but it can be a great way to save on gas.
At the very least, be more strategic when planning your errands. Don’t drive across town on Tuesday to pick up your dry cleaning and then drive to the same area on Thursday to meet with your accountant. Group your errands, so you aren’t wasting gas and time.
You can get nearly anything delivered these days, groceries from Fresh Direct and Walmart, take out food from UberEats, and pretty much anything else from Amazon. If you do end up signing-up for UberEats, use promo code 7yrog9 to get a discount on your first meal.
If you order enough to qualify for free delivery, having a lot of your purchases delivered can save you on gas costs and time.
Designating one day a week as a “no spend day” is advice given to those trying to save money and it’s a good one. Try to think back to the last time you went an entire day without spending any money.
Use the same concept and implement one “no driving day” per week. Stay home and do stuff around the house or yard or walk around your neighborhood and check out some local businesses you usually drive past.
When you’re ready to make a move, use Walk Score to see how bike and walking friendly potential locations are.
You can enter an address on the site and see what amenities are in walking or biking distance, things like grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, restaurants, and bars.
The higher the walk score out of 100, the easier it is to live at that address without a car.
2. Get a Buddy
GasBuddy is a site that lets you find the best gas prices near you. Just enter your city your zip code, and you’ll see a list of gas stations and their prices. I tried it with my zip code and got a range of $2.31 to $2.53.
Just be sure that you aren’t driving so far out of your way to a station with cheaper gas than those nearer to you that you’re negating any savings.
You don’t have to join the site to see prices, but if you do, you can save even more. When you join and link your debit card to your account, you will save $0.10 per gallon on your first fill up and $0.05 per gallon after that.
You can search by types of gas too, regular, midgrade, premium, and diesel. The site also has a trip cost calculator. You can enter your starting point and destination and see an estimate for how much gas for the trip will cost.
3. Time Your Fill-Ups
Gas prices often creep up towards the weekend, starting on Thursday afternoons. If you can’t make it through the weekend without filling up, fill up before prices spike.
4. Use the Right Credit Card
The right credit card can save you each time you fill up. Don’t automatically reach for a gas station branded card though. A good cash back rewards card often provides better savings.
Bank of America’s Cash Rewards Visa gives you 3% cash back on gas up to $2,500 per year.
5. Or Cash
Some gas stations will give you a discount if you pay in cash. All merchant’s pay a fee for each transaction swiped on a debit or credit card and will offer the discount to avoid the fee.
6. Follow the Directions
If you’re driving somewhere unfamiliar, use an app to help you get there without getting lost. Driving around aimlessly or having to turn around because you missed your exit wastes gas and time and doesn’t do much for your mood either.
I like Waze because it gives you so much information including things like when there is a car stopped on the shoulder so you can be aware and avoid a possible accident.
7. Lose the Dead Weight
The heavier your car, the more gas it uses. If you have a bike rack on your car and you live in Minnesota, take it off in the winter when you’re probably not doing much biking.
Remove rooftop racks that aren’t in regular use too. Not only do they add weight to the car, they create wind drag which causes the car to use more gas.
Take out all the unnecessary stuff you’ve got crammed in the trunk and the back seat. A twenty-pound bag of kitty litter is a good thing to keep back there in the winter, but you don’t need to haul it around the rest of the year.
Unless you’re heading out on a long trip, drive until your gas tank is close to empty. A full gas tank adds weight to the car.
8. Check the Seal
A loose seal or missing gas cap allows gas to evaporate which not only costs you money but pollutes the air too. If the rubber seal to your gas cap doesn’t fit tightly, replace it with a new one.
9. Buy Gift Cards
You can buy discounted gas gift cards on sites like Raise and Cardpool. Recently Raised was selling Speedway gift cards that will save 1.2%. It’s not a lot, but it’s still a savings and can add up if you’re fueling up for a long road trip.
10. Keep Going
Gas stations right off freeway exits are sometimes as much as $0.10 per gallon higher than those a little further from the exit. If you’re going on a road trip, top up your tank at your local gas station rather than stopping on the way to your destination.
Do the same before you head home, get gas near your hotel before getting back on the highway.
11. Don’t Go Premium
Premium isn’t always better. If your car’s manufacturer recommends regular octane, using premium isn’t going to give you any benefit, but it will cost 15-20 cents more per gallon.
12. Turn the Engine Off
For every two minutes, you let your car idle; it’s the gas equivalent of driving one mile! If you’re waiting to pick your kids up from school or sitting at a railroad crossing, turn your car off.
13. Don’t Warm Up
We know it’s unpleasant to get into a freezing cold car, so you can warm it up a little, a minute is good enough, but don’t let the car warm up for longer than that. You’re wasting the same amount of gas as when you let the car idle.
14. Slow Down
According to AAA, for every five miles you drive slower than 60 miles per hour, you will save $0.24 per gallon.
15. Get Regular Maintenance
Taking care of your car can help you save on gas. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. When they aren’t it affects the alignment of your car which makes your engine work harder. A tire shop can check your tire pressure, or you can buy a tire gauge and do it yourself.
When your air filters are dirty, it makes your engine less efficient. Change them regularly.
16. Keep the Windows Up
At least when you’re driving on the freeway. Using the air conditioner uses fuel, but the wind resistance your car incurs when you drive at higher speeds with the windows down uses more fuel than the air conditioning does.
17. Use Cruise Control
When you drive on cruise control, it keeps your car moving at a steady speed which uses less fuel than driving at variable speeds. Use cruise control when you’re driving for long, uninterrupted stretches, like when you’re on the freeway.
18. Park in the Shade
If you can find a shady spot to park it can help you save on gas. The cooler your car is, the less gas that will evaporate from the tank. Not to mention, you’ll avoid sitting on a piping hot seat and trying to hold a searing steering wheel.
19. Avoid Rush Hour
This won’t be possible for everyone, but if your office is somewhat flexible on start and finishing times, shift your work hours to a little earlier or a little later in the day so you can avoid wasting gas (and your patience) by sitting in rush hour traffic.
20. Don’t Use Four Wheel Drive
You don’t need to use four wheel drive when you’re driving around town or on the freeway unless there is a weather-related reason to do so. Engaging four-wheel drive uses more gas, turn it off unless the conditions call for it.
21. Or Snow Tires
Remove your snow tires once the season is over. Big tires with deep tread use more gas.
22. Taxes Matter
Each state taxes gasoline individually so prices can vary widely from state to state. If you’re on a border, it may be cheaper to fill up in the neighboring state rather than your home state. When you’re road tripping and passing through various states, use GasBuddy to see which state has the best prices and plan your gas stops accordingly.
23. Just Park
Unless you have mobility issues, you don’t need the parking space closest to the entrance of wherever you’re going. Unless you can drive to a shady spot over one in the open sun, just park in the closest space and stop wasting gas driving around parking lots!
24. Don’t Fall For It
There are various devices marketed as ways to save on gas by increasing your car’s fuel efficiency. Most of them are complete nonsense and the few that did make a difference had so little impact as to make them not worth the cost.
25. Change Your Oil
Clean oil reduces wear on your car’s engine by lessening friction caused by moving parts so changing your oil regularly allows your engine to work more efficiently giving your car better gas mileage.
26. Don’t Fill Up
Well, don’t fill your gas tank all the way to the brim. When you overfill the tank, gas can slosh out, so that’s money spilled on the ground.
27. Don’t Ride the Brakes
Don’t continually hit the brakes, which mostly translates to “don’t tailgate.” Every time you break, it uses additional gas.
28. Shop Smart
When it comes time to replace your current car, look for a small, fuel-efficient model. Hybrid cars might be out of reach for some of us, but if you can afford it, they’re something to consider.
29. Gas and Groceries
Many grocery store chains offer fuel rewards programs including Kroger, Winn-Dixie, Ingles, and Fred Meyer. You can save on gas prices when you join the program and save on trips because you can buy your gas and groceries at the same time.
30. Don’t Hit the Drive Through
You can do lots of things at a drive-through window including buy food, make banking transactions, pick up prescriptions, and if you live in New Orleans like I do, buy daiquiris (you’re not breaking any open container laws so long as you’ve not punctured the cup’s lid by putting a straw in it, really, that’s the law!).
But not only are you spending time running the engine while you’re transacting your business, but you’re also often waiting in line for some time as well. Park the car and go into the building to take care of business.
31. Beat Your Personal Best
If you’re a runner or weightlifter, you know what a personal best is, it’s your current best time for your run or heaviest weight you can lift. And a great motivator is to work towards beating your personal best and setting a new one.
Do the same with your gas usage. Track how much fuel you use or how many miles you drive each week and see if you can reduce your numbers the following week. Making a little game of it can make it more fun, we all like a challenge!
Hit the Road
The great summer vacation road trip is part of Americana.
How many of us remember being loaded into the car and setting off, playing license plate bingo, fighting with our siblings in the back seat, and stopping at overlooks along the way to enjoy the view before tumbling out at our summer vacation destination?
It might be faster to fly (or it might not be if you time it door to door and not just the amount of time spent in the air) but air travel has become so unpleasant.
The TSA theater, arbitrary rules, humiliating scans, searches, and pat downs, to say nothing of being nickel and dimed for everything from checking a bag to being able to sit with those you’re traveling with, and the discomfort of being crammed into an ever-shrinking space for hours.
It’s no wonder many of us prefer to drive to wherever it is we’re vacationing. Don’t let high gas prices put a damper on your plans or on your budget.
With these 31 ways to save on gas, you’ll have plenty of money left over for souvenirs. Happy driving!