How to Save Money on Gas and Get More Bang for Your Buck

How to Save Money on Gas and Get More Bang for Your Buck
Gas prices have just about reached an all-time high, putting a crimp in your budget. (Alexkich/Shutterstock)
Mike Valles
Gas prices have just about reached an all-time high. Since this is sure to put a crimp in your budget and may affect your summer travel, you are probably trying to find creative ways to save money on gas. Here are some practical tips to help you save money at the pump and burn less gas each week. Even if we never see a federal gas tax holiday, you'll appreciate these savings.

Find the Cheapest Gas in Your Area

Even if you prefer to buy your gas at a particular gas station, it may not be the cheapest around. Keep an eye on gas prices as you drive around and be willing to give gas stations with cheaper gas your business. You can use GasBuddy or the GasBuddy app to locate the gas stations in your area with the lowest prices. GasBuddy also has a card that can help you save as much as 25 cents per gallon.

Buy Gas on Monday

GasBuddy has conducted studies to determine which day of the week is best to buy gas. The study revealed that Monday is the best day to fill up your tank. Gas is often the cheapest—after Monday—on Sunday and Friday. Thursdays may be the worst day to buy gas, coastwise.

Get a Gas Rewards Credit Card

Many credit card companies offer rewards credit cards for gas purchases. Gas companies also offer them. Look around to find the best deals. Some offer as much as five cents a gallon in cash rewards—which can end up being a nice savings each month. Pay off your gas rewards card in full each month so that you do not need to pay interest. If you don't—you may not see much savings at all.

Roll Your Windows Down

Rolling your windows down increases your car's drag—which means it will consume fuel faster, says BusinessInsider. However, the alternative—rolling up your windows and running the air conditioner—is actually worse. Tests show that using your air conditioner will consume gas faster than having your windows down.

Pay With Cash

Many gas stations charge differently when you buy with cash, rather than using credit or debit cards, says CNET. How much you save per gallon may vary depending on your location. It can make a difference of up to 20 cents per gallon at some gas stations in Los Angeles.

Drive the Speed Limit

You can save more gas by driving the speed limit. Your car is made to get the maximum miles per gallon at speeds between 45 and 50 mph. Avoiding fast acceleration at stop signs and stop lights will also help you save gas.

Don't Let the Engine Idle

Turning off the engine rather than letting it idle for long periods will also reduce gas usage.
On cold days, you may want to let your car warm up for a few minutes to get the chill out. Save gas by keeping your coat on when you get in and start driving right away. Newer engines do not need a warm-up time.

Use Cruise Control

When traveling distances, MoneyCrashers advises turning on your cruise control. Keeping your car moving at a constant speed will save more gas than varying your speed with your foot on the pedal.

Avoid Premium Gas

USAToday says that most cars do not require premium gas and will run fine with regular gas. Using premium gas is not going to change how much gas your car uses—but it will cost you more at the pump.

Drive Less Often

Avoid making several separate trips—which will use more gas. Instead, combine multiple stops into one trip. When regular trips are necessary—such as going to work—try carpooling or riding a bike to work. Taking public transportation is another way to save on gas costs.

Stay Out of Rush Hour Traffic

While it may not always be possible to stay out of rush hour traffic, doing so will enable you to burn less gas and get home faster. If you are not already doing so, consider working from home—at least a couple of days per week.

Keep Up With Car Maintenance

Your gas mileage is affected by the condition of your car's engine. Keep your oil and your air filter changed regularly to ensure better performance and gas consumption. FuelEconomy reports that failing an emissions test can decrease  your car's gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. A serious problem such as a faulty oxygen sensor could reduce your miles per gallon by as much as 40 percent.
Inflating your tires to the recommended pressure will also help you get better gas mileage—and it will help your tires last longer, too. Keeping tires inflated properly can add up to 3 percent more miles per gallon.

Get a Different Car

Finally, if the above options will not help you save enough on gas, you may need to get another vehicle. Some vehicles simply consume a lot of gas. Options include downsizing, electric vehicles, or hybrid cars.
Mike Valles has been a freelance writer for many years and focuses on personal finance articles. He writes articles and blog posts for companies and lenders of all sizes and seeks to provide quality information that is up-to-date and easy to understand.
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