The recent drone attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, which supplies about six percent of the global crude oil market, have already increased gas prices in this country by a few cents, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). As a result of the attack, AAA says we could expect to see prices jump about a quarter within the next few weeks.
Even if Saudi Arabia’s facilities can recover quickly, it never hurts to save a few cents when driving, because Billshark knows those pennies add up quickly. So here are ten tips on how to money on gas.
1. Combine trips
Combining trips and planning your route are two easy ways to save on gas. UPS plans their drivers’ routes to focus on right turns only wherever possible. That saves the cost of idling at intersections waiting to make left turns. And if you’re not moving in traffic, shut off the engine. AAA says that a car engine consumes up to a half-gallon of gas per hour to idle, but a warm engine takes only about 10 seconds’ worth of fuel to restart.
2. Keep a set speed
If you maintain an even speed on the highway, you’ll use less gas than if you constantly accelerate, decelerate, and brake hard. Set your cruise control to help you drive steadily. If you have a stick shift, be sure to use overdrive when on the highway.
3. Take it slow
“When going from 55 to 65 mph, we lost between four and eight mpg,” Jon Linkov, deputy automotive editor at Consumer Reports (CR), told NBC News, reporting on mileage tests CR performed. “If you’re driving 55 and you go 20 miles an hour faster, you can lose as much as 15 miles per gallon.”
4. Buy now, save later
Several credit cards offer cash back for using their card to refuel. If you don’t have a card that does, look around for offers like those from Bank of America, Amex, and Costco’s Anywhere Visa. Also, many name-brand chains like Exxon Mobile, Shell, and BP offer loyalty programs that give discounts to their regular customers. And speaking of loyalty, most major grocery chains offer customer loyalty cards that let you put your reward points on grocery purchases toward gas purchases at their pumps.
5. Lighten up
It’s easy to turn our cars into additional storage spaces for things we don’t need to carry around. Do you routinely use your car to stash your kids’ sports equipment, or your own, even when you won’t need it? A neat car is a lighter car, and won’t use as much fuel.
Anything that impacts the aerodynamics of the car—that is, the efficient flow of air over the vehicle—will cost you gas mileage. If you can avoid carrying things on your cargo roof rack, do so. And if the roof rack is removable, take it off if you don’t need it to transport things regularly.
This is also true for the age-old question of whether to drive with the windows down or use the air conditioning. CR’s tests have shown that using the A/C can reduce fuel efficiency from one to four mpg. We’re heading into fall now, so temperatures will be moderating, allowing you to leave the A/C off.
7. Shop around
Gas prices near interstates are always higher than you’ll find at stations farther from these major roads. Download one of the many popular smartphone apps like Gas Guru or GasBuddy to help you find the lowest prices around town or on the road. (GasBuddy also offers a reward card to save you five cents per gallon when you fill up.)
But don’t drive miles out of your way to save a few cents per gallon on gas. Unless you have to be in that area for some reason, the time lost, the wear-and-tear on your car, and the gas consumed to get there may cancel out any savings.
And don’t use premium gas unless your car’s maintenance manual calls for it. Likewise, forget the myth about filling up early in the morning. Because gas is stored in underground tanks, it’s always cool, regardless of outside temperatures.
8. Maintenance is your friend
That means performing regular vehicle maintenance, including replacing fluids, filters, and spark plugs. And check tire inflation at least once a month, because underinflated tires consume more gas.
9. Consider cash
Because merchants have to pay banks each time a customer uses a credit or debit card, some gas stations offer a discount to their cash customers. (And, as we warned you recently, inserting or swiping your card at gas stations is inviting identity theft when thieves have implanted hard-to-detect skimmers at the pump.)
10. Buy smart in the future
The easiest way to save on gas consumption is to buy a vehicle that uses less gas. The next time you shop for a car, think about mileage when you buy. The U.S. Department of Energy offers comparison mileage ratings on various makes and models at https://www.fueleconomy.gov.
For another smart way to save money, let Billshark review your bills for free. You pay us only if we can find you savings.