Road Trip Anyone? 12 Simple Tips to Save Money on Gasoline
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Ready to hit the road? 🚗
First, some bad news: AAA expects the national average for gas to hit $3 a gallon soon!
Good news? Luckily, we’ve got some simple tips that’ll save you money on gas so you can squeeze more miles (and fun) out of every gallon this summer.
Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck at the pump:
1. Buy discounted gas gift cards. 💳
Before heading to the pump, consider snagging a discounted gas gift card online at sites like Raise.com, eBay, Groupon, or even Best Buy! Also, some gas stations may offer a lower price if you pay with cash instead of a credit card – and this discount usually applies to gift cards, too (may vary)! The difference between the cash and credit price usually ranges from around 10¢ – 15¢ per gallon.
2. Check your local grocery store first. 🛒
Watch for fuel promotions or even gift card deals at your local grocery store. Select grocers will sometimes team up with affiliated fuel stations to offer a gas discount whenever you shop at their store. Plus, some stores even offer double fuel rewards whenever you purchase gift cards!
Here are just a few stores that offer fuel perks with your store loyalty card:
- Albertsons: Earn one fuel point for every $1 spent on groceries or pharmacy items and two fuel points for every $1 spent on gift cards. Get 10¢ off per gallon when you earn 100 points.
- Fred Meyer: Earn one fuel point for every $1 you spend and two fuel points for every $1 spent on gift cards; fill prescriptions and earn 50 points. Earn 10¢ off per gallon when you spend $100.
- Giant Eagle: Earn 10¢ off per gallon at GetGo with your $50 Giant Eagle purchase.
- Hy-Vee: Earn special offers, digital deals, surprise savings and the chance for random rewards such as a kitchen makeover, vacation packages, or even a car loaded to your card.
- Kroger: Earn one fuel point for every $1 you spend and two fuel points for every $1 spent on gift cards; fill prescriptions and earn 50 points. Earn 10¢ off per gallon when you spend $100.
- Murphy USA: Save 3¢ per gallon whenever you fill up at Murphy USA stations using a Walmart gift card (not valid at Murphy Express). Offer not valid in Alabama.
- Price Chopper: Earn 10¢ off per gallon when you spend $100.
- Safeway: Earn 10¢ off per gallon when you spend $100.
- Stop & Shop: Earn one point for every $1 you spend with your Stop & Shop Card. Save 10¢ per gallon for every 100 points you receive.
- Winn-Dixie: Earn points and use them for savings on both groceries and fuel at Shell and other select fuel stations. Get 5¢ off per gallon at every fill, every day at Shell.
Don’t see your store listed above? Be sure to ask or check their website as many stores with fuel stations offer rewards programs or even credit cards with exclusive savings.
3. Save big by filling up at Costco. ⛽
Are you a Costco member? Get the most out of your membership by filling up while you’re there as you’ll save money and get quality gas. Costco sells only TOP TIER detergent gasoline – the fuel recommended by dealerships and manufacturers – so it cleans your engine with every fill up.
Plus, the average gas price at Costco is over 20¢ per gallon lower than its competitors! In fact, in this Oil Price Information Service survey in March 2018, Costco beat out major gas chains (as well as warehouse rivals such as Sam’s Club and BJ’s) to rank as the #2 cheapest place to buy gas in the US.
4. Don’t pay for premium gas unless… 🛑
Does filling up your car with premium gas give you the nice, warm fuzzies – like you’re filling your car with liquid gold? Well, some cars require premium gas, but others simply carry a recommendation that owners use it – which means you may be dumping money down the drain every time you fill up.
Consumer Reports tested the fuel economy and acceleration of cars on different grades of gasoline used in two different sedans and found that both cars achieved the same fuel economy and felt/sounded the same when tested with regular fuel as they did with premium.
That means it’s probably okay to use regular gas even if the manufacturer recommends using premium gas, but be sure to check the inside of your fuel-filler door or the owner’s manual before making the switch.
5. Find the cheapest gas near you. 📲
Download free gas apps that find the cheapest gas near you (driving around town to find the cheapest gas kinda defeats the whole purpose). A few reputable apps we like are GasBuddy, AAA, Fuel Finder, and Gas Guru.
Want to track and compare your gas mileage? Fuelly (iOS or Android) is a handy mobile app and website that helps you calculate your vehicle’s fuel economy. Tracking your usage over time can help you monitor changes to your driving habits and keep tabs on the health of your vehicle.
6. Know the best times to fill up. ⏱
Fill up your tank when it is coolest outside (early in the morning or late at night) and avoid the heat of the day as much as possible. Why? The fuel is denser at those times, so you’ll get more gas for the same amount of money.
It’s also best to avoid filling up an empty tank during a holiday or on the weekend when people are doing more driving (that’s when gas stations are likely to raise their prices).
Hip Tip: Have a hard time remembering which side of the car your gas tank is on? If you’re driving a newer car, look for the arrow by the gas gauge on your dashboard. This is a directional indicator that identifies which side of the car the gas tank is located. If the arrow points to the left, the gas cap is located on the left side, so the car should be parked to the right of the gas pump.
7. Leave extra items at home. 🏀
Been toting around items for Goodwill in the back of your trunk for a few months – or carry sports equipment in your car? 🙋🏼♀️ Even an additional 100 pounds in your car can reduce gas mileage by up to two percent.
Note that the reduction is relative to the vehicle’s weight, so smaller vehicles are more affected by increased weight than larger ones. Still, for every 100 pounds in extra weight, you can plan on spending up to 6¢ more per gallon. Yikes! Ditch the stuff you don’t need – especially the heavy items!
8. Waiting? Turn off the car. 🔑
The California Energy Commission (CEC) advises that vehicles should be turned off if your expected wait time will be longer than 10 seconds since an idling vehicle can burn as much as one gallon of gas each hour. Turning the car off can save about 5¢ per minute. Every little bit adds up!
9. Don’t always take the car. 🚶🏼♂️
Before jumping in the car to drop your kids off at a friend’s house, consider walking or hopping on a bike instead to help save gas. You’ll burn calories, enjoy the great outdoors, and reduce emissions, too!
10. Don’t drive like a race car driver. 🏁
You may aspire to be Danica Patrick or Dale Earnhardt Jr., but unless you’re racing in the Indy 500, avoid that kind of driving to save money on gas.
My husband always says to drive a car like you’re riding a bike – not like you’re driving a race car. You don’t ride your bike and slam on the brake pedal right when you get to each stop sign, right? You slow down nice and steady a little ways before the stop sign to ensure a smooth stop. Then you start again at a slow, steady pace. The same should be true for driving!
Speeding, braking, and rapid acceleration waste gas – and gas mileage decreases at above 60 miles per hour. Based on an average price of $3.12 per gallon for regular gasoline, driving sensibly can lead to an equivalent gas savings of between 16¢ and $1.03 per gallon.
11. Keep your tires inflated & wheels aligned. 🚘
A little vehicle maintenance can go a long way in improving your car’s gas mileage! Because tires may naturally lose air over time, it’s important to check tire the pressure on ALL tires, including your spare, at least once a month. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average—up to three percent in some cases—by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you have a tire gauge in your glove box and know how to use it. And, if you don’t have a tire gauge and need air fast, you can actually fill up your tires using a bike pump if you have one!
Also, be sure to check that your wheels are properly aligned and tires are balanced! Wheels out of alignment can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 10% (around 31¢ per gallon), and tires that are out of balance can cause uneven tire wear, which can result in lower gas mileage.
The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall.
12. Check your air filter & spark plugs. ✅
In addition to checking your tire pressure and alignment/balance (tip #2), make sure your car has clean air filters so the airflow stays at the proper level to mix with the gasoline. It has been estimated that replacing your dirty air filter will increase miles per gallon on the car up to 10% and also generates a fuel savings of close 15¢ per gallon at the fuel pump!
Also, be sure to replace your spark plugs when needed, especially if your car’s gas mileage suddenly drops. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence indicates that bad spark plugs can decrease fuel economy by up to 30% and can cost drivers up to about 94¢ per gallon.
How do YOU save on gas? Please share in the comments!
P.S. – Be sure to watch this oldie but goodie video for a few more tips from Collin on how to save on gas – you’ll even get a sneak peek of her favorite mode of transportation! Enjoy! 😉
Written by Mary for Hip2Save. Mary is a proud mom to 3 kids in Austin, TX, who thrives off Jesus, running long distance, bargain shopping, warm Texas weather, a yummy latte…and a little Candy Crush from time to time. She also loves quality time with family & friends and sharing great deals with others.