Fuel prices are beyond your control, but you still have places to go. When gas prices tick up, here’s some good news: Clever drivers can squeeze a few more miles out of that tank of gas. Read on to learn how to save money on gas.
How to save money at the pump
Fill up on Monday. A GasBuddy survey found that gas prices tend to be lowest on Monday, with Friday being another wallet-friendly day. (But avoid fueling up on pricey Thursday.)
Compare local gas prices. Check out real-time gas prices before you head to the pump. Members can use AAA Mobile app to get real-time gas prices. Simply open the app, click on “More” at the bottom of the screen, and choose “Gas Stations.” A local map will pop up showing nearby gas stations, and then click on a station to see current prices for all grades of gas.
Join a fuel reward program. Look for a reward program at your favorite gas station. AAA Members can use the Fuel Reward program for a discount of five cents per gallon at participating Shell stations (for up to 20 gallons).
Pay with a gas rewards credit card. But choose wisely. Some gas station credit cards, for example, hit you with sky-high interest rates. A general-purpose credit card that provides gas discounts might be the best option.
Better yet, pay with cash. Yep, those old-school dollar bills. When you pay with a credit card, the gas station gets charged a bank fee. So some stations offer a discount—perhaps 5-10 cents per gallon—if you pay with those good ol’ greenbacks.
How to save gas while driving
Cure your lead foot. When a traffic light turns green, putting your pedal to the metal might get you up to speed quickly, but it wastes gas. From a stop, it’s best to take about five seconds to get your vehicle up to 15 miles per hour. And as you drive, keep it smooth and steady, avoiding sudden changes in speed.
Switch to econ mode. True to its name, eco or econ mode (short for “economy mode”) helps conserve fuel. When turned on, it reprograms your car’s systems so you might not be able to accelerate as quickly—but that’s kind of the point. Econ mode might also dial back your air conditioner.
Use cruise control—sometimes. On a flat freeway, cruise control can help you maintain a steady speed, which saves gas. But once you enter hilly terrain, you’ll use less gas by controlling the car’s speed yourself.
Don’t coast in neutral to save gas. Some claim that coasting downhill in neutral is a cool gas-saving trick, but your engine is still idling, so you’re likely using as much gas as you would idling in park. More importantly, driving in neutral is a dangerous game. If you need to accelerate quickly—say, to avoid a hazard on the road—you won’t be able to, so coasting in gear is the smarter move. Luckily, most modern cars actually have “deceleration fuel cut-off,” which automatically reduces fuel consumption when you’re coasting.
Stick to one lane. Do you tend to dart from lane to lane? Here’s a surprise: Research shows it won’t get you to your doctor appointment faster. Surging into an open lane does, however, burn extra gas. So try to choose a lane and stay put.
Consider carpooling. If you live near a coworker or have similar work schedules as a housemate, take turns driving to slash commuting costs.
How to boost your car’s efficiency
Maintain your ride. A sluggish engine can decrease your fuel efficiency by 40 percent, and underinflated tires also makes your car guzzle more gas. So get regular maintenance checks to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.
Choose the right motor oil. Motor oils have various certifications, so check your owner’s manual to see which type your vehicle likes. Using the proper oil will help your car run more efficiently.