Is there anything more painful these days than watching your gas gauge head toward empty, knowing it’ll soon be time to fill your tank again? For the first time ever, the nationwide average for a gallon of gas reached $5 in June. While this unfortunate record has edged down, it is still incredibly high and causing pain for many American families.
With prices at the pump surging and no end in sight, there are 11 ways to slash the cost of buying gas:
1.) Reduce your vehicle’s weight. Are you carting around a bunch of unnecessary objects? It’s time to clear out the clutter. When you drive around with a lot of items in your car, it becomes heavier and requires more fuel to propel it forward. If you frequently transport stuff on your roof, you should consider alternate solutions because this can drastically increase drag and decrease fuel efficiency. Get the junk out of your trunk.
2.) Properly inflate your tires. Under inflated tires reduce a car’s fuel economy. Keeping your tires properly inflated to their recommend PSI can save you up to 11 cents per gallon. As an added savings bonus, your tires will also last longer, as proper tire inflation can extend a tire’s life by up to 4,700 miles. Use the correct tire pressure which is located inside your drivers door, and check the pressures in the morning when the tires are cool.
3.) Sign up for gas station loyalty programs. If you’ve avoided these in the past because the pennies didn’t seem to matter, you can save 3-5 cents per gallon. The savings really add up. Some gas stations, like Exxon Mobil and Costco, have a great rewards program where you can save up to 10 cents per gallon for every 5-10 fill-ups. That adds up to significant savings over time, especially if you drive a good amount each week.
4.) Check your tire alignment. Properly aligned wheels work together, so the engine does not work overtime and burn more gas to move the car. Rotation of tires will give you better tire life too
5.) Get regular maintenance. You can avoid fuel-economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, sagging belts, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems just by getting regular maintenance on your car. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40%.
6.) Slow down. Jack rabbit starts and aggressive driving will use up more fuel than driving at a more calm pace. You could always post to a traffic light and that will help save on fuel as well.
7.) Schedule your gas run. Wednesday is typically the best day to fill up for less. Prices tend to rise on Thursdays in anticipation of weekend travel. It also pays to fill up early. Station owners tend to hike prices after 9 a.m. or so, once they’ve had time to check the competition.
8.) Don’t top it off. That extra squeeze may round out your purchase price, but it’s also likely to splash out or evaporate, along with your hard-earned cash. Remember to screw the gas cap back on until it clicks, so none of your fuel escapes as fumes. Last year 147,000,000 gallons of gas evaporated because of loose missing or broken gas caps.
9.) Pay with cash. Most people use credit cards at the pump, but carrying cash can save you as much as 10 to 15 cents a gallon. Some stations charge less when you pay cash because they save on credit card fees.
10.) Follow the 10-second rule. Whether you’re picking up the kids or waiting at the drive-through, turn off the engine if your wait is longer than 10 seconds. Idling drains your tank by a quarter- to a half-gallon of fuel per hour, whereas restarting only sips 10 seconds worth of gas, according to the Department of Energy. sitting in the drive-through lane will give you 0 miles to the gallon.
11.) Look for the best prices. Stop wasting fuel driving around in search of the lowest price. Download the GasBuddy app or check AAA to find the best prices.
The Bottom Line
In addition to curbing your need for speed, bundling your outings to be more efficient can go a long way toward reducing your gas expenditures. What is your strategy for keeping your gas budget as low as you can?
There is so much more to discuss on this, put your comments below and let’s start the conversation.
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Lauren Fix, The Car Coach, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward.
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Lauren is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA) and is an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified technician. She inherited her love of all things automotive from her father, who owned a brake remanufacturing business and worked for many U.S. manufacturers. Lauren has been fixing, restoring and racing cars since the age of ten. She has been advising drivers almost all her life.
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