The average gas price in the United State is at $2.73 a gallon for regular unleaded and $3.02 for diesel. Depending on where you live and the type of gas you use, you could be paying much more. With oil production low, prices are expected to rise even more this summer.
If you drive a large vehicle or truck, it could be costing you $40, $50 or even $100 to fill up your tank. That’s a lot of money, especially if you drive a lot. You could be spending a couple hundred dollars a week on gas.
With summer on the way and road trips on the mind, you’ll want to know how to stay within your vacation budget so you’re not breaking the bank when it comes to fuel expenditures. While you may enjoy getting gas at your local gas station, it may not be the cheapest place. You can save a lot by going a few miles down the road.
The good news is that there are a ton of ways to save money at your next visit to the pump. If you’ve been feeling like you’re spending too much to fill up your car, here are some ways to ease the pain and stress on your wallet.
Tune Up the Engine
Before you drive to the gas station, there are some things you can do to ensure your vehicle in good working order and able to run as efficiently as possible. Giving your car a tune-up or fixing it up after a failed emissions test will help boost its mileage.
Check Your Tires
Your car’s tires will get the best gas mileage when they’re properly inflated. If they’re flat, you won’t be able to travel as fast and this can drag you down. If they’re overinflated, they can get out of balance and even pop. Check the recommended psi for your tires and inflate them only to that amount.
Clean the Air Filter
The air filter is often overlooked, but it has an important job. It helps keep the engine free of dirt, bugs and other debris. When it’s not cleaned regularly, your engine has to work harder, and this reduces fuel efficiency. Air filters get extremely dirty and clogged over time, so be sure to replace it or clean it often. By doing so, you could improve fuel efficiency by as much as 10%.
Use a Windshield Shade
Windshield shades keep your car cool inside, which reduces the need for air conditioning. When you don’t have to use your car’s air conditioner, you save on gas.
This tip is pretty obvious, but it’s easier said than done. Between work, errands, kids’ activities and appointments, today’s families are constantly on the go. Staying home and not driving is not always an option.
There are ways to stay out of the car, though. Combine errands so you’re not going back and forth so often. Have the kids ride the bus to school. Take the bus to work. Better yet, ride your bike.
Know When to Buy
It really does make a difference when you buy your gas. It’s best to do it when gas is cooler and denser. Therefore, try to plan your fill-ups for first thing in the morning or late at night. Also, opt for the beginning of the week. Gas prices tend to rise starting on Wednesdays and as late in the week as Saturday.
Get Things Delivered
Amazon is so popular as an online retailer because people love to shop online. if you don’t need something right away and can wait a few days, ordering your goods online can really help you save money on gas, specially if you live in a rural area. Instead of driving an hour round-trip to shop, you can get the items you need delivered right to your door – no driving or wasted gas required.
Work From Home
Working from home is not only comfortable and convenient (pajamas, anyone?), but it also allows you to avoid those nasty morning and evening commutes in rush hour traffic. Plus, many workers are more productive when they work from home.
If you’re interested, discuss it with your boss. Even working from home just one day a week can bring about benefits for your wallet and mental health.
Check Out Your Destination First
If you’re driving to a place that you’ve never been to before or haven’t been to in many years, do your due diligence first. Call ahead and make sure the store, restaurant or other place of business is, well, still in business. if they are, do they have the product you want? If you’re planning on going to a restaurant, how long is the wait? Can you make a reservation?
Many people plan a trip to a store hours away, only to arrive disappointed. The place is out of business. It’s closed that day. They don’t have the item you need. It’s a two hour wait to eat dinner. All of these situations are inconvenient because they waste time, money and gas. Do some research first before getting into the car.
Plan Your Route
If you’re not sure where you’re going, use GPS. Guessing on a location can leave you driving around in circles. You could end up clear across the other side of town, which can cause you to waste gas.
When planning your route, try to avoid stop signs and stop lights. Every time you have to stop, this wastes gas. Opt for highways and longer stretches of road if possible.
Don’t Overfill Your Tank
Most of us hate going to the gas station more often than necessary, so we try to squeeze every last drop of gas out until our vehicles are stuffed. This causes gas to move around and even spill out. Don’t let this happen. When you hear the first click, that means your car has had enough.
Use Lower Octane if Possible
Some sports cars and luxury vehicles require 91 octane gas, the highest octane available here in the United States. But if your vehicle doesn’t require it, then opt for the lowest octane possible – typically 87. Using a higher octane won’t make your vehicle run any better, so don’t waste the money.
Don’t Fill Up Too Soon
Some drivers fill up when they reach half a tank. Some may wait until they’re down to a quarter of a tank. Others are running on fumes as they rush to the nearest gas station.
Your best bet is to wait until you are close to empty. Why? By that time, you are carrying a lighter load (due to less gas) and your gas will last longer by that point. Just don’t break down on the highway because you’re totally out of gas. Be smart and plan ahead.
Use the Right Payment Type
Many gas stations offer discounts by using a debit card or paying for your gas with cash. In some cases, the discount may be 10 or even 20 cents a gallon. When you go to fill up your car, you could easily save $5 or $10 per visit, depending on how many gallons your vehicle can hold.
However, there are cases in which a credit card may be the better bet. For example, some cards offer 5% cash back on gas purchases. If you spend $50, that’s $2.50 back. Some gas stations even have their own credit cards or rewards cards that you can use to save even more.
Use an App
It can be hard to manually drive from one gas station to another in your neighborhood and scout out the various prices of gases. That’s why there are apps that take care of that for you. Apps such as Gas Guru, Gas Buddy and Fuel Finder can help you find the cheapest gas in your area. Keep in mind that you’re likely to find the best-priced gas at areas off the beaten path, but this may not be worth it just to save a few cents.
Consider a Rental Car
If you’re going on vacation, a small sedan will be more gas-efficient than your SUV gas guzzler. Road trips can be expensive enough, so if you’re traveling a long distance, it may make sense to rent a smaller car for the trip – unless you’re bringing a lot of stuff with you.
Don’t Focus on Brand Names
Gas does not have a brand name. It’s all the same. It comes from the same pipes and trucks. The only difference is in the octanes. Other than that, you’re paying different prices for the same thing. Go for whatever’s cheapest.
Save Gas and Money
It’s always good to save money, and every little bit – even a few cents a gallon – helps. Whether you drive a motorcycle, Prius or a semi truck, there are many things you can do to keep your spending in check so you’re not overpaying at the pump.
Even when it’s not summer or even if you’re not driving a gas guzzler, savings should always be on your mind. Many people have found ways to save $5 or even $10 per full-up, and this amount certainly adds up.