It’s a fact that everyone who’s driven over the last 100 years knows: If you’re going to drive a car, you’re going to have to pay for gas!
Until they perfect the electric vehicle, gas will just simply be one of those unavoidable expenses that comes along with being able to travel. Next to the cost of the vehicle itself, gas will be the second most expensive part of owning and operating that vehicle with each mile you travel.
Despite the fact that we can do virtually nothing to fight whatever the market price happens to fluctuate to for a gallon of gas each day, there are a few things we can all do to stretch our gas dollars a little further.
1. Get a car with better gas mileage.
The days of the super inefficient cars from the 70’s and 80’s are long gone. Now, its pretty easy to find a vehicle that easily gets you +30 miles to the gallon. However, they’re not all gone. The large, gas-guzzlers like trucks and SUV’s still exist. Try to avoid these as much as possible.
Even though a more fuel efficient may cost you a little more in the beginning, over time this tip will pay off in dividends at the gas pump.
2. Get the junk out of your trunk.
How much stuff do you lug around unnecessarily in your trunk? You may not realize this, but the EPA says that for every 100 pounds you eliminate from the vehicle, the fuel economy increases by 1-2 percent. The lesson learned: If it’s not absolutely necessary, take that junk out of your trunk, and store it in your garage (where it belongs).
3. Pump your own gas.
Full service stations are nice, but they will charge you a premium for a tenant to come out and pump the gas for you. Save yourself a few bucks by hitting up self-serve, and pump your gas yourself.
4. Pay with cash.
Some places offer discounts as much as 10 cents lower per gallon if you are willing to pay with cash. At a savings like that, you’re much better off than using your credit card (unless you have a magic credit card that pays you 10% cash back).
5. Get a car wash.
Another offer I see all the time is a lower price per gallon if you also plan to purchase a car wash. Depending on the cost of the wash and how often you get them, this could be a win-win for both your needs.
6. Get the store club card.
Supermarkets and mega-clubs (you know the places) love to make people sign-up for their special shopping clubs. Even though they are free, I know – they are annoying. But most of them will also give you 3 cents (or more) off per gallon of gas. In that case, choose your favorite one and get the card.
7. Avoid gas stations near the expressway.
Gas stations near an expressway know they are prime real estate. People who didn’t plan for long trips will pull off and look for a place to fill up. Therefore, they can command higher rates. With that being said, don’t fall for this trick. Keep your car full and stick to the locations that charge a reasonable price.
8. Buy your gas early or late in the day.
Believe it or not, some experts claim that gas density is higher in the morning and late at night when the temperature is generally cooler. Therefore, when you’re filling up your tank, you’ll actually be getting more bang for your buck.
9. Get a good rewards card.
Having a credit card with high rewards specifically for buying gas can pay off quick! At least 3 months out of the year I get 5% rewards with the Chase Freedom and Discover Card.
10. Skip premium gas.
Despite what you may have heard, using premium gas doesn’t make your car run any better if the cheap ’87 stuff will work just fine. Unless your car specifically requires premium gasoline, pass on it.
11. Accelerate more smoothly.
Car engines are designed to gradually ease into acceleration; not burst into sudden speeds. Spare your gas consumption and smoothly accelerate as your driving.
12. Take the expressway.
Expressway driving is much different than city driving. One the expressway, you drive for long periods of time at one constant speed whereas in the city you’ll make many starts and stops. When given the option, go for the expressway to save on fuel consumption.
13. Stick to the speed limit.
Similar to the expressway argument, not speeding will work better for fuel efficiency because you won’t be making any unnecessary accelerations. Plus, you’re less likely to get speeding tickets if you’re not speeding!
14. Minimize how often you use air conditioning.
Using the air conditioning at a minimum is another system-level trick to improve your car’s operational efficiency.
15. Pump your tires.
When your tires are not properly inflated, they will move more sluggishly, and this will cause the engine to work harder – thereby consuming more fuel. Do your wallet a favor and keep your tires inflated to improve driving mileage.
16. Eliminate the wind resistance.
Fresh air is nice! But rolling the windows down can cause unnecessary drag on your vehicle, and this reduce your fuel efficiency.
17. Turn off the engine if you’re not using it.
If you’re parked or not moving, switch the car off. There’s no need to keep it running if you’re not going anywhere.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr