In an era where environmental consciousness meets the practical need for budgeting, saving on gas has emerged as a pivotal aspect of daily life for drivers worldwide. As fuel prices continue to fluctuate, the quest for more fuel-efficient driving and cost-saving measures has never been more relevant. This guide is designed to arm you with a comprehensive toolkit of strategies, from optimizing your driving habits to leveraging technology, to help you navigate the complexities of saving on gas with confidence and ease.

Key Takeaways

  • Drive Efficiently: Smoother acceleration and braking can significantly improve fuel efficiency.
  • Regular Maintenance: Keeping your vehicle well-maintained is essential for optimal fuel economy.
  • Leverage Technology: Use apps to find the cheapest gas and plan the most efficient routes.
  • Adopt Fuel-Saving Habits: Simple changes in driving habits can lead to substantial savings.
  • Explore Alternatives: Consider carpooling, public transport, or even working from home to save on gas.

Smart Shopping for Gas

Leverage apps like GasBuddy and Waze to find the cheapest gas prices in your vicinity. These tools compare prices in real-time, helping you make informed decisions without driving around aimlessly

Skip the premium gas 

Unless your car is specifically graded for a higher-octane grade, don’t think that you’re getting more for your money. For most of us, cheap fuel works just fine and buying premium grades isn’t necessary or even beneficial. On the flip side, though, don’t try to bow out and buy cheap gas for a vehicle that is rated for a higher-octane fuel. Stick to the recommended fuel grade for your vehicle. 

Time your fill-ups right

When are gas prices the cheapest? Turns out, there’s actually an answer (and it may not be what you expect). According to some studies by GasBuddy, Monday is the cheapest day of the week to buy gas, with some drivers saying they save $100 or more just by filling up on Mondays. 

Need to fill up more than once a week? No worries, just make sure you fill up in the morning. It might sound silly, but this tip takes advantage of basic physics. Gas stations’ storage tanks are located underground. In the morning, the ground is cooler, making the gas contained within it denser. 

Thus, you get more gas per gallon in the morning than in the afternoon once the earth has had a chance to heat up. While it’s only going to save you a couple bucks at a time, that can add up quickly if you refuel 2-3 times a week.

Get tax deductions on the miles you drive for work

This is a long-game strategy, but you can save hundreds, or even thousands, each year on self-employed taxes when you deduct your work mileage from your taxes

If you drive for work, whether it’s for a client meeting or a DoorDash delivery, you can  be eligible for tax deductions based on your tracked mileage. In the past, you might have been watching your odometer and manually tracking mileage in the Notes app on your phone, but mileage tracking apps like Everlance will automatically track your work mileage for you. 

The best mileage tracking app helps you keep records of how far you drove and your overall mileage, making it easier to get reimbursed from your employer (if your employer offers reimbursement), save on taxes if you’re self-employed, or just track your fuel economy.

It won’t make the gas prices at the pump any cheaper, but it can save you money in the long run.

Get discounts on gas

It seems impossible, but there are ways to get discounts on gas prices. Some gas stations give a discount (anywhere between 5-25 cents per gallon) if you pay with cash instead of a card at the pump. If there’s a station near you that offers this discount, the savings can easily add up fast, especially if you’re filling up multiple times each week. 

If paying cash isn’t an option, try buying gas with a cash back credit card. Some cards offer between 2% - 5% unlimited cash back on gas purchases, which can save you hundreds of dollars a year, especially now that gas prices are so high. Of course, this is only a good option if you can consistently pay your balance off in full each month. 

Join a fuel rewards program

With fuel prices rising weekly, there’s never been a better time to be earning points or gas discounts through a fuel rewards program. Many major gas brands, like BP, Exxon and Shell, all have rewards programs. Some regional grocery stores or big-box discount stores, like Costco and Sam’s Club, also have fuel rewards programs. 

If you can’t consistently fill up at one gas station, there’s no harm in signing up for multiple rewards programs to make sure you’re getting the best rewards, no matter where you fill up.

Stay up-to-date with car maintenance to save money on gas

There are many expenses associated with owning a car, but one of the most frequently recurring (and potentially frustrating) is fuel costs. Thankfully, keeping your car in tip-top shape is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your gas costs. 

Keep your gas cap fully sealed

An unsealed or faulty gas cap can allow fuel vapor to escape, letting money slip through your grasp. If you think your gas cap might be leaking, or it no longer tightens fully, bring your car in and have it replaced (usually around $75-$80). Make sure to tighten it to the manufacturer’s specifications each time you refuel.

Check Tire Pressure Regularly

I know..this one kind of sounds crazy, but keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure can significantly improve your gas mileage (as much as 3%!) For best results, make sure to check your tire pressure every few weeks Running on low pressure increases the resistance where the tire meets the road, meaning more energy is required to push your car along the road. You can check at a local gas station’s air pump or buy your own tire pressure reader

Give your fuel injectors an ultrasonic bath

While this one is quite pricey, it can make a difference if you’re routinely getting lower gas mileage than you’d expect for your vehicle. The mechanic will immerse the injectors in a fluid-filled chamber and then subject the ultra-high-frequency vibrations that remove all the gunk from them. This process leads to more efficient burning of fuel, which in turn leads to better gas mileage.

Don’t neglect your air filter

This tip is by far one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your gas mileage. Like a vacuum cleaner, your engine’s air filter gets clogged with dirt or debris, affecting its suction power. Maintaining a clean air filter helps your engine circulate air uninhibited, thereby using less energy. Even better? A top of the line K&N air filter is only going to run you about $55, and those can be washed and reused!

Be choosy about your wheels

While flashy wheels can make a car look infinitely sleeker, be careful not to choose something too heavy or too large that hurts your car’s fuel economy. Choose wheels that fit your car and choose lighter materials where possible.

Watch the weight 

It’s tempting to treat our vehicles as our own personal storage units, but paring down the amount of stuff you carry directly impacts how far you can go on a full tank. Empty out your trunk of anything that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Keep in mind that driving with passengers adds to the weight of your car as well, thus requiring more fuel to go the same distance.

Pare down your car’s accessories 

While roof racks and other accessories can certainly make your car look cooler, they not only add weight, they also add air resistance that can translate to fewer miles to the gallon. Keep the accessories to a minimum and make your vehicle as aerodynamic as possible.

Use the motor oil recommended by your manufacturer

Like with fuel itself, paying a premium for the top-of-the-line product doesn’t always deliver the most benefit. While some motor oils do deliver on their claims of better gas mileage and improved performance, it is important to note that these claims are not specific to your vehicle. It’s best to choose the motor oil recommended by your manufacturer, as your vehicle has been designed and tested to perform the best with that oil under a variety of conditions.

Consider buying a hybrid or electric vehicle

Of course, this is an expensive cost that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly, but if you drive frequently for your work—or if driving is your work—a hybrid vehicle can save you exponentially when it comes to fueling up and maximizing your earning potential. Fuel-efficient cars can be a good investment if you: 

  • want to reduce your carbon footprint
  • need to reduce your overall vehicle costs
  • drive frequently (or drive very long distances) for work
  • want to be less affected by rising fuel costs 
Photo by Jenny Ueberberg on Unsplash

Save on gas costs by driving more carefully

It’s not just your mom’s peace of mind that is saved by driving more carefully—you can actually make a noticeable difference on your mileage per gallon and gas costs as well.

Avoid idling

While some amount of idling is unavoidable, such as in a traffic jam, you should avoid idling for prolonged periods when you could turn off the car. With most modern cars, you are better off turning off the car and then turning it back on when you are ready than waiting in idle.

Drive in the highest possible gear without stressing your engine

If you’re driving a manual, this is easy and makes a lot of sense. The higher the gear, the more fuel efficient it is to drive in, so if you can drive in a higher gear you could save money at the pump. Of course, it can be helpful to downshift if you need to accelerate more quickly, but for cruising speeds a higher gear can offer an easy solution. If you’re driving an automatic, just go easy on that throttle and make sure overdrive is on.

Avoid the pedal to the metal

While we love getting to top speed as quickly as possible too, accelerating and braking too quickly burns more fuel. When accelerating, don’t put the pedal to the metal. Ease onto the gas and accelerate gradually. The same goes for braking—try to avoid slamming on your brakes at the last second trying to drive like a stunt driver. Brake slowly and give yourself plenty of space to slow down and maneuver carefully between other cars.  

It may not seem like it makes much difference, but aggressive driving can reduce your highway fuel economy by 15-30% and your city mileage by 10-40%. On the flip side, reducing your speed on the highway (i.e., actually driving the speed limit) can increase your fuel economy by as much as 15-20%. 

Turn off the A/C 

Avoid using air conditioning and heat when you can. Turning on the AC regularly in your car consumes more gas. Keep in mind, though, that some studies have found driving at higher speeds with the windows down actually creates more drag on your car, thus lowering your average mileage per gallon. 

When in doubt? If you can avoid the A/C altogether, do that. If you’re driving at slower speeds through the city, roll down your windows. If you’re going long distances at freeway speeds, go ahead and reach for the A/C if you need it.

Although any one of these strategies might not move the needle much, using a combination of them can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars in the end. With these strategies, you can not only improve your gas mileage but also save money at the pump and offset rising gas costs by maximizing your tax deductions.

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