Gasoline prices are ridiculously high right now and everyone is feeling the strain financially. There are a few things you can do to save money at the pumps and make the most out of your dollar.
1. Check your vehicle’s tire pressure. It is extremely important that your tires are inflated to the correct pressure. Your owner’s manual will tell you how much air you should have in each tire. This will help keep your car running smoothly and it will keep you safer since over and under inflated tire can cause blow outs. The AAA’s website states that this is one of the most important factors for fuel economy. It only takes a few minutes to do and can save you some money in the long run.
2. Be mindful of the way you drive. Don’t drive over the speed limit. Faster speeds consume more gasoline than slower. The difference between driving 55mph and 65mph is about 2 miles a gallon. Accelerate gradually from stop lights instead of flooring it. Sudden stops and starts create more work for the engine thus using more gasoline. A gradual acceleration is better for an automatic transmission regardless. Try to keep a steady speed when driving as well, since accelerating up and down also uses more gasoline. Cruise control is a great tool to use for that very problem. Never leave your car running when you’re not in it (ex: running into the post office). If you’re going to be out of your card for longer than a minute, shut it off. And keep your left foot on the floor away from the brake while driving. Resting your foot even slightly on the brake can cost you a few extra bucks at the pump.
3. Plan out all of your driving trips. Take a few minutes to decide what you need to do each day and where to need to travel too. Some days it may only be a few stops and the planning will be easier. Other days may be a little more hectic and require that much more planning. With your list, ask yourself if you can combine any of your errands. Cutting out some locations will obviously save you some money in gasoline. Once you have your minimized list of places to go, figure out the most direct route to each location. Travel in a big circle that starts and ends at your house. This will cut out on some unnecessary miles. If you have to make long trips to the market, create a list of items and purchase everything you would need for several days.
4. Keep your vehicle finely tuned. Have your car checked by a reputable mechanic to be sure it’s running at top performance. Have the oil changed regularly. Replace air filters and keep the engine tuned. Cars with clean air and oil filters run better and get better gas mileage. Maintain the fuel, ignition and emission systems as well as these can cause engine problems that can ultimately result in poor gas mileage. Taking these steps not only saves you money at the pump but also adds life to your vehicle.
5. Clean and wax you car. You may not realize it but this can also provide your car with better gas mileage. Dirt and grime on the outside of your car can increase something called “drag.” You should also watch for other things that can obstruct air flow. Rooftop carriers, for example, can also increase drag and decrease gas mileage.
6. Clean out your trunk. Storing items in your trunk makes your car heavier. This means that your engine has to work that much harder. If you don’t absolutely have to have it in your car, remove it!
7. Consider using plastic instead of cash for gas. If you get a discount for using a credit card or gas card, use it! The important thing here is to pay the balance off when it’s due. This way you don’t accumulate a great deal of debt. The savings will be lost if you end up having to pay interest on the credit card balance. Also, if you have a “club card” or “store card” make use of them if it is going to save you a few cents a gallon. Trust me, it adds up.
8. Use your air conditioning wisely. Leave those windows up while traveling at high speeds. You’ll reduce drag by using the air conditioner instead of rolling down the windows in this situation. Also, keep the air conditioning on low since this is better for your gas mileage. In situations where your speed is lower and you’re stopping and going a lot, open the windows and get some fresh air.
9. Fill up in the morning instead of the afternoon or evening. Service stations have gasoline storage tanks underground. The ground temperature is cooler in the morning and gasoline is denser at lower ground temperatures. As the temperature rises the gasoline expands. By buying gas in the afternoon or evening you aren’t actually getting your full gallon of gasoline.
10. When you’re filling up, don’t be in such a rush. The gasoline nozzle trigger has three modes: low, middle and high. In slow mode you’re pumping at a very low speed. In high mode you’re going to be pumping at a much faster rate. All pumps have a vapor return. By pumping in high mode, as most people do, some of the liquid gas that is being deposited into your tank becomes vapor, and those vapors are sucked back into the underground storage tank. By pumping in low mode you’re minimizing the vapors created while pumping. It may take you a little bit more time at the pump but you’ll be saving some money in the long run.
11. Buy the lowest grade fuel you can. Read my previously published article Are You Wasting Money on Premium Gasoline to learn more. Read your owner’s manual as well to learn more about what fuel grade is recommended for your vehicle.
12. Shop around for the best price. You don’t have to always use the same gas station. There are websites out there to help you in finding the best gas price and many times local news stations will post local gas station locations that offer the lowest prices. Consider local, off-brand, non-chain gas stations as they can sometimes be a great deal cheaper per gallon than your local Shell or Exxon.
13. Find alternatives to driving. You don’t have to drive everywhere you go. When possible, walk or ride a bike. Not only will it save on gasoline but it is also a healthier lifestyle choice. Use mass transit when you can and let your kids ride the bus instead of driving them to and from school. Carpool when you can by riding with family, friends, and coworkers.
14. Don’t fill up if there is a gasoline truck pumping new gas into the underground storage tanks. The gasoline is being stirred up as its being delivered. You could pick up some of the dirt that settles at the bottom of the tank.
15. Don’t top off the tank when gassing up your car. That additional gas is just going to seep out or slosh around. It’s a waste of your money to pay for that little bit of gas that you won’t even use. Stop pumping when the nozzle automatically shuts off. Don’t try to get to that next dollar amount. It’s a waste of time and money.
16. Tighten your gas cap and replace damaged caps. Your gas will evaporate from your tank if the cap doesn’t have a proper fit or isn’t properly tightened. According to the Car Care Council nearly 1.5 million gallons of gas evaporate each year due to loose, missing, or damaged gas caps.
17. Park in the shade and make use of your garage. The hot summer sun can really drain fuel from your gas tank. There is going to be more evaporation taking place if you’re parking in an un-shaded area. So park your car in the shade of a building or tree and use your garage to keep your car just a bit cooler. Plus, you won’t have to use your air conditioner as much with a cooler car, adding to your gas savings.
18. When it’s cold out, avoid those long warm-ups. It might not be the most comfortable experience, but your car doesn’t need more than a minute to get ready to go. If you’re spending any more time than that warming up you’re unnecessarily burning your expensive gas.
Hopefully you’ve learned something new and useful from this article. It’s always nice to have a little extra money and if you make use of any of these tips your likely to save in the long run.