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How to Save Money on Gas

Nov 4, 2019

How to Save Money on Gas Driving is extremely convenient, but filling your car up with gasoline once a week isn’t – especially if that gas is expensive. Gas prices fluctuate constantly and fuel efficiency varies by make and model, but there are some things that you can do to when driving to minimize how much you spend each time you fill up your car. Below, we’ve listed some tips and tricks that can help your hard-earned money go the extra mile.

Drive smarter.

You may really want to speed up to get through that yellow light or to get around that slow car in front of you, but according to the EPA, aggressive driving – rapid acceleration, speeding, and braking – can lower your gas mileage by about 10-40 percent in stop-and-go traffic and 15-30 percent at highway speeds.

If your car has cruise control, you can use it to steadily maintain the legal speed limit on the highway, as long as the weather permits and there’s a safe distance between you and the cars around you. Driving at a steady speed for as long as you can will help increase your miles per gallon and encourage safer driving habits – it’s a win-win!

Another way you can drive smarter is to plan your route ahead of time when running errands. If you’re not backtracking as much, you can maximize efficiency in regards to both fuel and time. Additionally, plan to avoid running your errands during rush hour so that you don’t get stuck in stop-and-go traffic, which could lower your gas mileage.

Lastly, consider sharing rides. If you carpool with the same person on a regular basis, you can offer to split the cost of gas to keep expenses lower for both of you. Not only is this good for your wallet, but it’s good for the environment as well since you’re not emitting as much gas as you would driving separately.

Limit idle time with the engine running.

Now that we’re moving into the colder months, you should start considering how to prepare your car for winter. Additionally, your fuel economy may go down since your car uses more gas when blasting high heat in the car. If you’re driving alone, close the vents that you’re not using or point them directly at you so that you aren’t heating an empty seat; you won’t need to use a higher heat setting to warm up, which will also help save some gas.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, try not to spend too much time hunting for the perfect parking spot. Yes, a spot in the first row is ideal, but you’ll wind up wasting gas while slowly scanning the crowded parking lot stopping frequently for pedestrians. It’s best to just commit to parking in the first open spot you see and walking the short distance.

Plan which gas station you will use ahead of time.

You should begin planning your next trip to the gas station even if your tank is full, because your next fill-up can sneak up on you. Planning ahead will prevent you from wasting gas while driving around looking for the nearest station or from completely running out of gas before you reach the station, leaving you stranded on the side of the road. As you drive around, you should make mental notes of which stations in your area have the lowest gas prices so that you can avoid overpaying in a pinch.

If you know that you’ll be driving a long distance, make sure to fill up near home before you reach the highway as prices at gas stations near highways tend to be higher to target drivers in need. You can get cheaper gas from big retailers like Costco, Wawa, and Walmart, or you can use apps like GasBuddy and Waze that allow you to search for the cheapest gas prices by location.

Another way to save some money when filling up is to avoid using a credit card at the pump by paying inside. Most gas stations will let you pay the cash price – which is typically lower – if you use a debit card inside. You’ll avoid card processing fees and you’ll pay less in general.

The price of gas changes every day, so it’s important to consider what day of the week is the best to stop for gas. GasBuddy analyzed gas price data from January to March 2018 and found that in 21 states, the lowest average gas prices were on Monday, whereas Friday had the most expensive average in 19 states.

Join a fuel rewards program.

If you’re loyal to one or two gas stations, you may want to consider opting into any fuel rewards programs they offer, as they are designed to help you save money. If you use a credit card to pay for your gas, you may also want to consider looking into a card that offers cash back on gas purchases. Some credit cards will offer upwards of 5 percent cash back at certain times of the year while others offer 3 percent cash back year-round. The ExxonMobile Smart Card will actually save you $0.06 per gallon, every day, at every Exxon and Mobil station. The card also tracks how much you spend on fuel each month so you can get a clearer picture of your spending habits and adjust accordingly.

Switch to a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

If you want to cut your spending on fuel down and you happen to be in the market for a new car, consider switching to a hybrid or fully electric vehicle. This way, you can recharge by simply plugging in your car and almost eliminate the need to pay for fuel altogether. While the car itself may be a bit more expensive upfront, you’ll save a significant amount of money on fuel in the long run. If you’re not ready to make the switch just yet, be sure to at least bump fuel economy to the top of your list of priorities when searching for your future car.

How often you fill your car up and how much you pay depends on so many different factors and varies from person to person, but these tips from PFCU can help you keep these costs as low as you can.

Erin Ellis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
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