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How to save money on gas

Get the most gas mileage out of every tank, saving you money in the long run.

These 9 tips help you get the most mileage out of every tank, focusing on small changes that have the biggest effect on your fuel efficiency. By implementing these changes in your driving and gas spending habits, you can shave a few cents off or as much as $1 for every gallon of gas that you buy.

Accelerate carefully

A car uses the most fuel under heavy acceleration. It is better to gather momentum slowly and maintain it. Avoid having a heavy right foot and remember hard braking shaves off speed, which is a waste of energy. Look far ahead and anticipate having to slow down.

Accelerating and braking smoothly can increase your fuel efficiency by up to 40%, according to the US Department of Energy.

Plus, smooth braking and acceleration shows off your safe driving if you’ve joined of a telematics program with your car insurance company. These programs track your driving and rate skills like your braking, cornering and time of day that you drive with the possibility of lowering car insurance rates if you’re a safe driver.

Use air conditioning sparingly

Did you know using climate control can cause you to burn up to 25% more fuel? For the best possible fuel economy, use a higher fan speed rather than lower temperature settings and turn the recirculation on when using the AC — that’s the button that shows a car with an arrow inside it.

Also, if you’re going slow, try rolling down your windows instead. When you’re on the highway, air resistance makes air conditioning more economical.

Don’t idle

When your car is parked with the engine running, you’re wasting gas. Yes, an engine uses a slightly increased amount of fuel to restart, but sitting for 15 minutes without moving will use significantly more. Turning off the engine also cuts your emissions, benefiting the environment and those around you. Save up to 3 cents per minute

Warming up your car? It will warm up faster when it’s running, so letting it sit for an extra 10 minutes is about as useful as an extra 30 seconds.

Get credit card rewards on gas

Aside from working on your fuel economy, you can also use a credit card with high gas rewards like 3–5% cash back. These cards reward you when you use them to buy fuel, and some cards also reward other spending categories.

The best strategy is to choose a card with the highest rewards in areas that you spend the most. If your spending balances across multiple categories, you might choose a card that customizes or rotates the rewards category.

Check your tires

Maintaining your tires at the correct air pressure can improve your mileage by a few cents per gallon. The savings increase if you drive with tire pressure that’s much lower than your manufacturer recommends. Plus, properly inflated tires will last longer and perform better.

30 to 35 psi is the recommended tire pressure for most cars. You can check your owner’s manual or the inside of your driver-side door for the recommended pressure. If you’re going on a long trip or carrying a lot of stuff, you may need to increase your tire pressure.

Maintain a consistent speed

The more braking and accelerating you do, the more gas you use. Aim to maintain your speeds and coast as much as possible, especially if you’re approaching a slope or stop. In a traffic jam or stop-and-go traffic, avoid speeding up and stopping and instead gently tap the gas and coast to a stop.

Because cruise control can minutely adjust the throttle with more care than a human driver, it can help you save on gas, especially if your car has an eco mode. It’ll also prevent you from speeding.

Guide to buying cars with the best MPG

Get into high gear

If you drive a manual car, use higher gears wherever possible. Higher gears stress the engine less and allow it to work at lower revs.

In an automatic car, easing up on the throttle will trigger your car to change up to a higher gear.

Buy gas during non-peak times

Gas tends to be cheaper earlier in the week and earlier in the day. Many gas stations also increase prices before big road trip holidays, like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. That’s because of supply and demand, so it pays to plan ahead for your road trips.

You also pay less for gas in the winter, due to the composition of gas when it’s colder.

Keep an eye out for gas prices

You can often find a good deal on gas by looking near state lines and away from busy highways or exits. Keep an eye out for gas prices around you to find the ones with the regularly lowest rates. Try a gas finder app that lets you compare gas prices to find the optimal time and place to fuel up.

Gas prices rise and fall based on stock prices and the global economy. For example, gas stocks fell during the pandemic, which causes prices at the pump to drop as well.

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Bottom line

High gas prices can make even regular driving a budgetary concern, but paying attention to how you drive and taking care of your car to keep it in good condition can help you cut down on fuel costs.

You can also save on the annual cost of owning a car by making sure you have the cheapest car insurance from a reliable company.

Frequently asked questions about fuel economy

Picture: Shutterstock

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