Many consumers are looking for ways to save money right now, as inflation is high and budgets are tightening as we head into the holiday season. If you’re like me and live in a place where driving is a necessity, saving at the gas pump can put a lot of extra money in your pocket, especially if you plan on travelling this holiday season. The following tips can help you save on gas expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Remove extra weight from your vehicle
Keeping the weight of your vehicle as low as possible is one way to save on fuel expenses, so clear out your trunk as soon as you can. An additional 100 pounds of added weight can decrease fuel efficiency by 1%. Additionally, if you drive a smaller vehicle, having extra weight in your car will impact you more than if you drove a larger car.
This goes for carrying cargo on your roof as well. Having a cargo box on your car’s roof causes aerodynamic drag, which can lower fuel economy by 2%–8% in city driving, 6%–17% on the highway, and 10%–25% at Interstate speeds (65 mph–75 mph). If you have to carry luggage or equipment with you, opt for a rear-mount cargo box or tray.
Slow down (and use cruise control)
Are you an aggressive driver? If you find yourself rapidly braking and accelerating, or often speeding, you could be lowering your gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds, 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic, or by 5% around town. To maximize fuel efficiency, accelerate gradually and avoid any unnecessary braking. Keep your distance from other cars and coast to stops instead of mashing the brakes. An easy way to maintain a consistent speed is by using your car’s cruise control.
Furthermore, driving the speed limit can increase your gas mileage. Generally, for every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph, you'll pay an additional $0.18 per gallon for gas. Therefore, it’s recommended to stay as close to the speed limit as possible if you’re looking to save the most money. Plus, it’s safer anyway.
Don't let your car idle
While it may seem more fuel efficient than having to restart your engine, leaving your car idling is actually wasting more fuel than you think. In fact, depending on your vehicle, if you leave your car idling for an hour you could be using a quarter to a half gallon of fuel.
To cut back on fuel usage, some newer cars have features that turn off the engine when the brakes are used. If your car has this feature, make sure it’s enabled to help you maximize fuel efficiency. If not, be sure to turn off your car the next time you leave your vehicle, instead of leaving it idling. Even if it's just to run inside and grab something you forgot. It could save $0.01–$0.02 per minute.
Make sure you have the right tire pressure
Keeping your car in great condition can help you save money on gas over time. For one, it’s important to make sure your vehicle has proper tire pressure. By keeping your tires at the proper PSI, you could improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3%. Don’t wait until your tire pressure light comes on, however, as gas mileage decreases by 0.3% for every 1 PSI drop in pressure of all four tires.
Use the proper motor oil for your vehicle
Another way to maximize fuel efficiency is to use the proper grade of motor oil for your vehicle. In fact, it can raise your gas mileage by 1-2%. If you're engine is out of tune or fails an emission test, you can improve mileage by 4% by having these problems fixed.
Try a fuel-savings app : GasBuddy and Upside
If you’re looking for another way to save at the pump, try downloading a fuel-savings app, like GasBuddy or Upside. According to their website, Upside has helped users earn $300 million dollars across 50,000 locations nationwide, including gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. Using Upside is simple, you’ll browse offers on the app and claim one before you fill up. You don’t need to use a special card either, you can use your normal credit or debit card and then check-in or upload your receipt.
GasBuddy is another app that helps save you money on gas prices. When you enter your location in the app, it will list all surrounding gas stations within a certain mile radius, along with their prices, so you can pick the cheapest place to fill up.
Additionally, if you sign up for Pay with GasBuddy, you’ll receive a gas card that’s linked to your checking account. After you sign up, you’ll then have access to exclusive deals and discounts from gas stations that support Pay with GasBuddy. You can save up to 25 cents per gallon using this feature, and if you upgrade to the Premium version, up to 40 cents per gallon.
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Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing personal finance advice with others. Previously, she was a freelancer focusing on the credit card side of finance, but has branched out since then to cover other aspects of personal finance. Erin is well-versed in traditional media with reporting, interviewing and research, as well as using graphic design and video and audio storytelling to share with her readers.