Personal Finance

How To Save Money On Gas During A Recession

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 10 minute read

Modern cars run more efficiently. As a result of this, drivers in the United States continue to shell out a shocking amount of money on petrol.

The most recent year for which official government numbers are available, 2017, shows that Americans spent $348 billion on gasoline, according to the U.S.

Energy Information Administration. A national per-capita spend of $1,072 is derived from this figure.

Rural areas, where commuting times are longer and public transit is scarce or non-existent, spent as much as $1,500 per person annually on fuel.

You don’t have complete control over your yearly gasoline costs. When gas prices rise, it costs more to get gas. However, as a frugal driver, you have tremendous influence over your gas expenditures.

How to Reduce Automobile Gas Costs

Driving and gas-buying behaviors and vehicle-related activities are the two primary areas of measures you may do to lower your fuel usage and total driving expenditures.

Changing Your Driving and Gas-Buying Routines

Simple adjustments to your driving style can have a substantial influence on your monthly fuel costs. You may save money on petrol by implementing these strategies.

1. Utilize a gas-finding application that enables you to save money.

When driving along the border, gas costs might vary significantly. Everyone who drives, especially those who often traverse state lines, needs a real-time fuel-finder application.

GasBuddy is the greatest gas-finding application out there. Users of the Standard plan may save up to $0.20 per gallon by using this app, which provides near-real-time pricing data for tens of thousands of gas stations across the United States.

The yearly GasBuddy Premium membership costs $99 and offers savings of up to $0.40 per gallon for those who use their vehicles a lot. To learn more about GasBuddy, please read our review.

2. Always use a credit card for gas purchases

Apply for and use a gas credit card a rewards credit card that earns cash or points on every gas pump transaction if you don’t already have one.

For those who have good or exceptional credit, the following are always-popular choices:

  • The American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card provides 3% cash back on all qualified gas station transactions in the United States.
  • On qualified gas station purchases, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card receives a 3% effective rate of return.
  • You may earn a 3% effective return on qualified gas purchases with the Citi Premier® Card.

Apply for Citi’s Costco Anywhere Visa card if you’re a member of a warehouse club like Costco. This rewards card is only available to Costco members. 

All but the highest-mileage drivers qualify for 4% cash back paid as Costco store credit on their first $7,000 in annual fuel purchases.

Likewise, if you have a favorite chain of gas stations, join their rewards program and apply for a store credit card for immediate discounts at the pump or benefits you may use later. 

Because these schemes give immediate reductions, they offer a superior rate of return on petroleum credit card rewards.

3. Reduce your driving by modifying your commute

Driving yourself to work is more expensive and environmentally damaging than any other mode of transportation. In a packed commercial downtown, where parking is rare and expensive, this is especially true.

To save money on commuting, look into alternatives. It all comes down to where you live, how much time and energy you have in the morning, and how physically active you are.

  • Organizing a carpool with coworkers who live close by, and switching driving duties every day or week.
  • Your net cost per journey will be less when you use public transportation like a municipal or regional bus or train with a monthly pass
  • Going to work on my bike

4. Whenever possible, work from home

A recent pandemic has shown that many white-collar tasks can be performed remotely, with no effect on output.

More than 95% of companies found that their employees were at least as productive as they were before the epidemic in a September 2020 study by Mercer reported by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Let your company know how much more productive you can be if you can accomplish your job from home but haven’t done so yet.

If you work remotely even part-time, you may save a lot of money on your household’s transportation expenditures, and if you work remotely full-time, you may be able to relocate to a less congested area with more open space.

5. Determine the most productive path to your destination

Acceleration consumes more gasoline than coasting or cruising does for a car. That implies that the most fuel-efficient route to your destination is not always the shortest. 

A route that needs the least acceleration and deceleration is the one with the fewest stoplights, the least traffic, or the best overall traffic flow.

With Waze or other apps that show stoplights and other traffic management measures such as Apple Maps and Google Maps, you can plan your route.

6. Beginning and ending gradually

Most efficient routes have some endings and beginnings. Execute these motions as softly as possible in order to minimize their influence on your fuel efficiency and expense.

To come to a complete halt, steadily accelerate and coast to an ending. Every time the light changes, do not attempt to test your car’s zero-to-60 mph acceleration.

According to FuelEconomy.gov, using these fundamental defensive driving techniques may save fuel consumption by 40% in stop-and-go traffic and by 30% on the interstate.

7. Observe the posted speed limit.

According to FuelEconomy.gov, vehicles optimize fuel use at different speeds, but fuel efficiency begins to deteriorate dramatically over 50 mph.

Assume a per-gallon price of $2.38 and a fee of $0.17 to $0.33 for each 5 mph rise beyond that threshold assuming $2.38 per gallon.

It’s obvious that 50 mph isn’t safe or feasible for highway use. Your only real option is to maintain an average speed of 25 miles per hour or less while driving in the slowest possible lane.

In a 75- or 80-mph zone, this usually entails adhering to the published speed limit.

Avoid exceeding the speed limit at all costs. Use the cruise control to assist you to maintain a safe and legal driving pace at all times as well.

Slowing down and accelerating more gradually than a human driver would is an advantage of using cruise control, which may help you save money on gas.

8. Reduce Idle Time

The fuel efficiency of an idle vehicle is zero. When your car is parked or you’re just waiting, try to avoid using the gas engine as much as you can.

That said, idling an automobile is inevitable under certain circumstances, such as warming it up and deicing it on a cold morning. However, you don’t need to wait 30 minutes before getting in your automobile.

According to Cars.com, fuel-injected vehicles manufactured after the mid-1990s don’t require any pre-warming at all.

Only let your car run for as long as it needs to in the morning to get a comfortable temperature inside. Keep your coat on in the car and drive away as soon as you start the engine.

9. Park at a greater distance from your destination.

According to 2017 data from Inrix, drivers in the United States spend an average of 17 hours per year searching for parking and waste an estimated $345 in gasoline doing so, but there are some concerns about those findings.

Consider parking further away from your final destination if you want to cut down on the amount of gasoline used in parking.

That isn’t always practicable in business, retail, and entertainment districts with fewer parking places than automobiles, but it is a good rule to follow.

Drive around the block a few more times, but instead, choose a less congested place a few blocks away and stroll there.

10. Errand runs should be longer and more infrequent.

Make every effort to consolidate your daily errands wherever feasible to reduce your overall distance.

Make a weekend afternoon or weekday if your work schedule permits for all of your weekly errands so that you don’t run out of time in the middle of the day.

11. Keep Your Windows Closed

Keep your car windows up to enhance aerodynamics and save money on gas, even if you don’t see a difference daily or even monthly.

Think of the gas station employee sweeping coins under your nose as you want for the wind in your hair feeling you long for so much. It works!

12. Don’t Fill Up Your Gas Tank When It’s Nearly Empty

In order to avoid paying more per gallon at the first station you come across, don’t wait until you’re almost out of petrol before filling up.

For example, I want to fill up at the first low-cost station I come across after my tank is three-quarters empty.

For me, the closest Costco gas station offers consistently lower costs per gallon than other options by as much as $0.10 to $0.15. I utilize GasBuddy when I’m traveling in a new direction.

13. Avoid gas stations notorious for higher prices.

You’ll recognize them. Signs proclaiming greater costs per gallon than those a mile or so down the road are up and along the road like clockwork.

These premium stations are aware that they may charge extra because of their handy position in a high-income area or because they’re the only station for minutes in either direction. At all costs, steer clear of these high-priced service providers.

14. Reduce Air Conditioner Use or Use the Eco-Setting

According to FuelEconomy.gov, using your car’s air conditioner can lower fuel economy by up to 25%. Shorter journeys and hybrid-electric cars have the greatest impact on range anxiety in hotter weather.

On warm days, switch off the air conditioner and utilize the coldest fan setting instead. If it’s too hot to drive without air conditioning, use the lowest comfortable level or the eco A/C setting on your car, whatever one you have.

15. Reduce Vehicle Weight

Otherwise, it would already be gone if you didn’t give it much thought every day. Even if you aren’t hauling cinder blocks back there, the extra weight in your trunk may have a significant influence on your vehicle’s fuel economy.

This is especially true for cars with front-wheel drive, which were not intended to carry big weights on the rear axle efficiently.

Organize your car’s trunk and remove everything you don’t use frequently. Toss out whatever you don’t need and keep just what you really need in your garage or utility room..

16. Invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle

Look at hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid-electric, or all-electric vehicles when you’re ready to buy a new or used vehicle.

Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Sonata, and Volvo XC90 are just some of the popular hybrid vehicle and SUV models on the market.

Toyota Prius, Honda Clarity, and Chevrolet Bolt are all examples of hybrid or electric-only cars, as are wholly electric brands like Tesla.

Federal tax credits of up to $7,500 are available for select plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, cutting your net cost substantially. It’s easy to find out which cars qualify for the credit and how much you’ll get.

17. Maintain proper tire pressure.

FuelEconomy.gov estimates that keeping tires inflated to the pressure suggested by the vehicle’s manufacturer can increase gas efficiency by as much as 3 percent on average.

Pressure drops by 0.2 percent for every pound per square inch below the permissible limit. In your vehicle’s owner’s handbook, you should be able to locate the manufacturer’s suggested pressure.

18. Use the Right Blend of Motor Oil and Fuel Grade

Fuel economy may be improved by simply using the motor oil suggested by your vehicle’s manufacturer found in your owner’s handbook.

The next time you have your oil changed, consider switching to a new, more fuel-efficient type of motor oil.

If you’re currently using 10W-40 oil in your vehicle, switching to 0W-20 oil can improve fuel economy by up to 3%.

Don’t use premium petrol if your vehicle’s manufacturer doesn’t suggest it, either. Regular unleaded is the best choice for your vehicle if it was designed to handle regular unleaded.

19. Check the Gas Cap Gasket

If you’re driving an older car, you may not notice a warning light when your gas cap seal degrades and enables oxygen to escape into the gas tank, resulting in a higher gas consumption rate. When your gas mileage begins to decline, you may be able to identify the problem.

Fortunately, gas caps are rather inexpensive, with most major merchants and even Amazon selling them for less than $20 each.

As a result, a number of automobiles’ gas cap sensors do not recognize new gas caps that are not produced by the original manufacturer or an approved source.

Buying a new gasoline cap at the dealership is the only way to avoid driving about with a constantly flashing light on your dash. According to Repair Pal, that’ll run you roughly $90.

20. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle.

The fuel efficiency of a vehicle may be improved and hazardous emissions can be reduced with regular vehicle maintenance.

Your vehicle’s oxygen sensor is particularly critical to its overall performance. According to FuelEconomy.gov, a malfunctioning sensor can impair fuel efficiency by up to 40%.

When it comes to saving money on petrol, changing your air filter and spark plugs on a regular basis may help your engine run more smoothly.

According to Fixd, replacing an air filter is a simple DIY auto repair task that should cost no more than $40 on your own.

However, replacing spark plugs may still be done at home, as stated by Family Handyman. For a professional replacement, the Kelley Blue Book estimates a cost of at least $100.

Keep your engine tuned as part of manufacturer-recommended periodic maintenance and you’ll see a 4 percent improvement in your fuel economy.

Bottom Line

Fuel-saving measures that aren’t drastic in their impact on daily living may be implemented by almost everybody.

If you want to save money on gas, your best bet is to ditch your single-occupancy car in favor of a bus or train or carpool.

When your car’s gas cost has been decreased, there are even more options to save money on driving or even earn money from your vehicle.

Save money on insurance by changing the amount of deductible and mileage you report. Take advantage of bulk tire and gasoline discounts by joining a warehouse club like Sam’s Club or Costco. 

Alternatively, you may transform your automobile into an income generator by working as a delivery driver for DoorDash or Instacart. While there aren’t an infinite number of options, there are still enough to choose from.

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