Filling up the gas tank is a thoroughly miserable experience. My wife and I recently bought a minivan and watched the gas pump tally roll past $70 for the first time (ouch).
We’ve gathered the best tips on how to spend less on gas from various experts. You can save hundreds of dollars on gasoline by using even a few of these twenty-three suggestions.
1. Share Rides
If you live near your co-workers, and have similar schedules, take turns driving so you can all drive less each week.
2. Check Tire Pressure
Having tires underinflated can lower your gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 psi, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To find the proper tire pressure check the owner’s manual for your car or the sticker in the driver’s side door jamb.
3. Check Your Gas Cap
A bad seal or missing cap can allow up to three gallons of gas to evaporate each month. Besides costing you money this pollutes the air. When the rubber seal around your cap seems worn or damaged, buying a new cap may save you sixty dollars or more annually.
4. Buy a Discounted Gift Card
Often times you can find discounted gift cards to your local gas station on sites like Raise.com & Cardpool.com. This can be easy way to save 5% or more on your gasoline budget.
5. Use Price Guides Online
There are websites which tell you the price of gasoline at the stations in your area. An example is http://www.GasBuddy.com. Look for the cheapest gas stations along any of the routes you normally drive for work or shopping.
6. Plan Routes
The less you drive the less you spend on gasoline, so try to route your shopping trips and other outings in efficient ways. Cutting a few miles several times weekly can add up to 500 miles saved annually, which at 20 miles per gallon means buying 25 gallons less gas.
7. Reduce Your Idle Time
Don’t start the car and then leave it running for a long time to “warm up.” Idling too much just wastes gas. “Car Talk” hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi say, “The best way to warm up a car is by driving it at moderate speeds.” The exception to this is cold winter mornings, when a minute or two of idling might be a good idea.
8. Lighten Your Car
Gas mileage can increase by as much as 1% for every 100 pounds you take out of your car, so look over what you’ve got there and remove anything you don’t need (no, this does not mean your mother-in-law).
9. Accelerate Slowly
Generally, the faster you accelerate the more gas you use for a given distance. Be gentle on that pedal when getting up to highway speed.
10. Coast More
You’ll get better mileage by coasting more, so plan ahead for stops and turns when driving. Take your foot off the gas a bit sooner when it is safe to do so.
11. Remove Racks
If you don’t use that bicycle rack remove it, and when the season ends take off that ski rack. Racks are extra weight and create more wind resistance — both of these reduce gas mileage.
12. Use Cruise Control – Sometimes
When it’s hilly you might get better mileage without cruise control, because the system will tend to downshift too much and waste gas. Otherwise, use it. A test done by Edmonds.com showed that cruise control saved an average of 7% on fuel usage.
13. Reduce the Use of Your Heater
The effect of heaters is debated, but the consensus seems to be they reduce gas mileage a little. You can wait a bit to turn it on and dress warm if you want to reduce your usage.
14 Reduce Air Conditioning
When set on “Max” your car’s air conditioner can reduce your miles-per-gallon by 5 to 25% according to FuelEconomy.gov. Wait a few minutes before turning it on, use windows at low speeds when possible, and try a less powerful setting first, to see if it’s sufficient. Then turn off the A/C a few minutes before arriving at your destination.
15. Use the Best Credit Card
For regular fill-ups choose a card that pays you cash back to purchase gasoline. You effectively cut the cost by 1% to 3% depending on which card you use.
16. Close the Windows
Closing car windows will improve gas mileage, especially when you’re going more than thirty miles per hour. But should you open the windows instead of using air conditioning? According to the television program MythBusters, the answer is yes. However, they did their tests at 45 miles-per-hour. The effects of wind resistance increase dramatically at higher speeds, so you might be better off with the air conditioner on and windows closed if you’re going 75 MPH.
17. Skip the Premium Gasoline
Higher-octane gas isn’t necessary or beneficial in most cars, so you are just spending more money when you buy premium.
18. Replace the Air Filter
A dirty air filter can reduce your mileage by up to 10%, so have it checked during every oil change.
19. Get Free Gas
The deal is that you agree to put advertisements on your car and you are given free gas. Here’s a website that helps you sign up for these deals: http://www.freegashelp.com. Of course there are some catches. You might have to drive at least 1,000 miles per month, for example.
20. Buy a More Efficient Car
Making your next vehicle one that has a higher mpg rating is another obvious way to spend less on gasoline. Just be sure that you don’t pay so much for the car that you negate any subsequent savings.
21. Slow Down
The guys at Edmonds.com tested this theory too, and found that when they drove a car at 65 mph for 50 miles versus driving at 75 mph for the same distance, the average fuel savings was up to 14%, and averaged 12%.
22. Avoid Stations at Freeway Exits
Many of the gas stations that are found just off an exit charge as much as 10 cents more per gallon than nearby stations a bit further away from the freeway. So if you plan to head down the road to eat anyhow, look for a better price further away from the exit.
23. Use Synthetic Oil
Synthetic lubricants cost more initially — two or three times as much — but they reduce friction better and so improve your gas mileage. They also allow you to safely wait longer between oil changes than with petroleum-based engine oil, so you save money there as well, according to Craig Cole, of AutoGuide.com.
If you can put five or ten of these suggestions to work, you can spend a lot less on gas.
Your Turn: Have you used these methods or found other ways to spend less on gasoline? Please share with us in the comments below.