The national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $4.59, an all-time high in the U.S., and up 2 cents from the $4.57 cited below.
US and EU sanctions against Russia have rocked the petroleum market, and Americans have seen this reflected in higher gas prices at the pump. AAA reports that the national price average of $4.57 a gallon for regular fuel—an all-time high—is 4 cents more than yesterday, 16 cents more than a week ago, 48 cents more than a month ago, and $1.52 more than a year ago.
You’re paying high gas prices no matter where you live in the United States. Unless, of course, you drive a fully electric vehicle. If you drive a gas vehicle frequently, you may be feeling added financial stress when you fill up your tank. You may be able to save some money by changing your habits. Keep reading for some helpful tips that could save you some money at the gas pump.
1. Stay at half
Keep at least a half-tank of fuel during cold winter months, and when there is a risk of shortages, say, due to a lack of gasoline delivery drivers to meet travel demands, or when a major storm or hurricane is imminent. This tip also goes for holiday road trips, when roads can be congested and slow-moving. Having plenty of gas onboard can ease stress and give you more flexibility with when and where you fill up.
2. Check online
Apps and websites such as Upside can show local gas prices, making it easy to find good prices in your area or if you need to travel. Generally, gas stations well off major highways and away from city centers tend to have better prices, as do warehouse stores and some major travel centers.
3. Minimize travel
If you can delay errands or other activities, you will preserve the gas that you purchased and reduce overall consumption for the region, helping in some small way to reduce the gas scarcity.
4. Obey speed limits
When you drive, follow the speed limits and drive smoothly. Your driving habits can play a significant role in fuel economy.
A recent Consumer Reports test shows this: They measured gas mileage while driving at a steady 55, 65, and 75 mph in a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4. They found that reducing speed from 65 mph to 55 mph improved fuel economy by 6 mpg in the Altima and 8 mpg in the RAV4. The penalty of cruising at 75 mph, rather than 65 mph, was almost 7 mpg in the Altima and 6 mpg in the RAV4. Higher speeds exact a toll in fuel consumption. Another way to look at it: Speeding up from 55 to 75 mph is like moving from a compact car to a large SUV. Beyond fuel concerns, speeding is, of course, a safety risk.
5. Drive evenly
Avoid hard acceleration and braking whenever possible. In a recent study, frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced an older Toyota Camry’s mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Once up to speed, maintain a steady pace. The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you use. Unnecessary braking wastes the fuel you used to get up to speed. Drive smoothly and anticipate the movement of traffic. Smooth acceleration, cornering, and braking also extend the life of the engine, transmission, brakes, and tires.
6. Pay attention to aerodynamics
Remove roof racks when they are not being used. At highway speeds, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. Don’t add to that by carrying unneeded things on the roof. Fuel-economy tests were conducted at highway speed on a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4 with a roof rack, a tail-hitch rack, and a rooftop box. Carrying two mountain bikes on the roof had the biggest impact. The Altima lost 13 mpg, going from 46 mpg to 33 mpg. The RAV4 lost 7 mpg, dropping to 32 mpg from 39 mpg.
There’s even a loss when driving with an empty roof rack: The Altima dropped 5 mpg, and the Toyota lost 2 mpg. The Nissan lost 12 mpg with the bikes on the hitch-mounted rack, while the RAV4 was down only 5 mpg. The bikes stuck out beyond the sides of the sedan, which created extra drag. They were mostly hidden behind the wider, boxier RAV4’s bodywork.
The rooftop box resulted in a 9 mpg decrease for the Altima and a 5 mpg drop for the RAV4.
Overall, the aerodynamic drag doesn’t hurt the more boxy RAV4 as much as the sleeker Altima.
7. Buy good-quality gas
Experts typically recommend using Top Tier gas—that is, gas that is held to a higher standard through the voluntary participation of numerous gas station brands, including Chevron, Costco, Exxon, Mobil, and Shell. Beware that many familiar brands do not have Top Tier gas. The goal is to feed your car good-quality gas whenever possible, but it is fair to be flexible during a shortage or when traveling. The detergents in Top Tier gas can eventually clean any engine deposits that may accumulate when good-quality gas is more readily available.
8. Skip the premium
Save money and skip premium gas unless it is “required.” This is indicated on the fuel filler door. Many cars list “recommended,” which means it is optional. If there is only midgrade or premium fuel available, this will work fine in a car that is rated for regular gasoline.
9. Check tire pressure
Check your tire pressure. Tires lose about 1 psi a month. Having tires with lower pressure than what is recommended on your doorjamb sticker can affect performance, tire longevity, and fuel economy.
10. Skip the AC
Using air conditioning does consume gas. In mild weather, if you can get by without it, even if you open the windows, it will give incremental savings. But once it gets hot, having AC on to cool the cabin and lower humidity is a wise investment in your comfort and ability to stay alert while driving.
11. Join gas loyalty programs
If you’re loyal to a particular gas station chain, make sure you join their loyalty program. Most of these free programs allow drivers to save at least a few cents off the cost of gas just by being a member. Some programs will offer more significant savings if you spend more money and buy gas regularly. This is a simple way to pay a bit less at the pump.
12. Group errands together
It can be beneficial to plan out your outings when gas prices are higher. Of course, if possible, keep extra driving to a minimum to use less gas. If you have to drive, grouping nearby errands could help you minimize your car and gas usage. Plus, it can be more efficient and save you time in your busy schedule.
13. Use a gas rewards credit card
If you’re not yet using a gas rewards credit card to pay for your gasoline, you may want to start soon. These cards reward cardholders who use their card when filling up at the pump. While you won’t save money right away, you can earn cash back by using your card. Over time, your earnings could add up.
Gas prices continue to rise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to pay less at the pump. You can make changes to save money, waste less gas, and earn rewards on your spending.
Gas isn’t the only expense that has increased over the last few months. Many people are looking for ways to trim costs as much as possible. If you’re looking for additional ways to save money, you’re not alone. Take a look at our tips for saving on high food prices as well.
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