How to save money at the gas pump

person filling up gas tank

Most who rely on a vehicle to get from point A to point B are well aware of the costs involved to maintain this function. Aside from monthly car and insurance payments, when it comes to budgeting for your automobile, it’s also crucial to consider the rising prices of gasoline.

According to AAA, the average price of fuel is $2.59/gallon, however, these prices fluctuate on a routine basis. Cost is impacted by several factors, including the price of crude oil, weather as well as supply and demand. 

While you can’t control the national gas prices, there are steps you can take to cut down on your gasoline expenses and find the best prices in your area.

Tips for spending less on gas

Here are just a few tips that can help you spend less money the next time you fill up your tank. 

Directional apps/tools: Applications like Gas Buddy and Waze can help you find the cheapest fuel prices at gas stations within your vicinity. Gas Buddy will even provide you with routine alerts about the fluctuating gas prices in your local area so you know what to expect at your trusted station.

Road trips: If you’re planning a road trip, manage all the details with the AAA TripTik Travel Planner, including the most affordable places to stop for gas along the way. It also helps to know which states have the cheapest gas prices, so you can plan your trip accordingly.

Pay with rewards gas cards: Getting the right card with the right perks allows you to earn a percentage of cash back on your purchases. If you spend a lot of money on gasoline, consider a co-branded fuel card like the Costco Anywhere Visa, which allows you to earn even more money back when you use your card at the pump.

Where to buy gas

Rather than waiting until you’re running low on fuel, it helps to know which gas stations in your area offer the best prices. According to a 2018 study conducted by Market Force, consumers are spending more money at warehousehouse clubs and grocery chains than traditional gas stations due to the affordable fuel rates.

Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club will save you money on gasoline. However, you do need to have a membership card, which costs about $60-70 a year. Most warehouse clubs offer a few cents less per gallon than regular stations. If you fill up frequently, the dollars you save each month can add up.

Costco even offers the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, a co-branded credit card that allows you to earn points or cash back when you pump your tank anywhere in the country. The Sam’s Club Mastercard also boasts a great rewards program where you can earn up to 5% cash back when purchasing gasoline.

Driving tips for fuel efficiency

Aside from scoping out the cheapest local gas stations, there are some other simple things you can do to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy.

  • Top off your fuel: Regularly topping off your fuel rather than waiting for the tank to empty is a good practice that can help you make the most of your gas mileage. That being said, you might not notice a visible difference.
  • Reduce the air: If you’re one of those drivers that likes to blast your AC throughout the summer, you might want to reconsider. Cool air is a necessity on hot days, but be careful with the settings as your vehicle’s AC system consumes fuel. 
  • Don’t be an aggressive driver: Each time you press the gas or brake pedal to the floor, this consumes gasoline. Driving at high speeds can also kill your fuel economy. According to Fueleconomy.gov, each five miles per hour you drive over 50 mph is about the same as paying an additional 18 cents per gallon.
  • Know the right fuel for your vehicle: Your vehicle owner manual should specify the best fuel type for car. Putting premium gas in a regular tank will cost you more money per gallon and reduce the lifespan of your engine. 

Auto maintenance tips for fuel efficient

Routine auto maintenance is a necessity for extending the lifespan of your vehicle, but it also helps to increase fuel efficiency.

  • Keep Tires Inflated: Driving with low tire pressure reduces the friction between your vehicle and the road. Not only does this increase the risk of a blowout or accident, but it also causes more drag on the wheel. In turn, your vehicle uses more gas to handle the road. Use a pressure gauge to check your tires on a routine basis and fill them up with air at a local gas station as needed. 
  • Schedule an Engine Tune-Up: During an annual engine tuneup, auto technicians will evaluate and clean the main components in your engine, such as spark plugs and oxygen sensor. Worn spark plugs, injectors and faulty sensors decreases engine performance, thus hurting your gas mileage. 
  • Change the Air Filters: Air mixes with gasoline to create the spark that starts up your engine. If your air filter is dirty or clogged, this will impact the flow of air to the engine and consume more fuel. Owners manuals should specify the recommended schedule for replacing the air filters.

Why invest in fuel-efficient vehicles & hybrids

If you spend a good portion of your day on the road, you can stretch your dollars further by investing in a fuel-efficient vehicle or hybrid. For instance, you can save $650 by buying a car that gets 20 mpg versus a car with 30 mpg. After a few years of ownership, this can add up to a few thousand dollars in savings.

Hybrid vehicles are also a high contender if you work in the city due to stop-start driving. With a traditional vehicle, you consume more gas each time you brake and accelerate. However, hybrids are equipped with two power sources; fuel and electricity. At lower speeds, hybrid vehicles will use the electric motor for peak efficiency.

Bottom line

Saving money on gasoline is as simple as altering a few habits and learning a few basic things about how your car runs. Having an understanding of which factors affect your spending will help you make the right choices both on and off the road. For ultimate savings, don’t forget to sign up for one of the best credit cards that offer rewards for making purchases at the pump.