5 Ways to Save at the Pump

January 9, 2011

The price of gas is going up. You don’t need to be an economist to know this–you just have to be a driver on the road who, when passing by a gas station, notices that the gas that cost $3.11 a gallon yesterday is $3.15 today.

Does four cents a gallon really matter? Probably not on its own. But over time that price difference can add up.

Gas is about $.30 higher in 2011 than it was this time in 2010. Fill up once a week at 20 gallons a pop, and you’re talking some decent dough you no longer have in your wallet.

Of course, you can always try to drive less so you’ll use less gas. I’m lucky in that I live within walking distance of many of my daily necessities. If I plan things right, I can go a whole day without getting in the car. However, I realize that this isn’t an option for everyone.

If you’re looking for ways to save at the gas pump that don’t involve giving up your car, here are 5 ideas to consider:

  1. Find the best prices before getting in the car. My husband talks about how during the 1970s gas crisis, his father would drive around town, searching for the best gas price before he’d fill up the car. Of course, he probably burned more fuel during those searches that offset any money he saved, but his intentions were good for his family’s bottom line. These days you can use websites and apps to find the best gas prices available locally without any driving around first.
  2. Fill up on the right day of the week. Gas prices change based on the day of the week–and are often at their highest by Friday. Why? Gas stations want to cash in on weekend travelers. So in order to pay the least amount for your gas, always gas up between Tuesday and Thursday, when prices tend to be at their lowest.
  3. Keep your car in tip-top shape. The best way to have a car that runs efficiently is to keep it tuned up. Change the air filters and the oil based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, and keep the tires inflated and extra weight out of the car (cargo, not family members you don’t like!). This will help you to feel confident that your car is not burning through gas unnecessarily.
  4. Skip the premium gas. The way most cars are built today, regular gas is just fine. Seriously, all you’re doing when you buy premium gas is paying more money for the same stuff that makes your car run. Good Housekeeping noted that when you choose premium gas, you’re spending more than $700 extra a year. That’s quite a drop in the bucket!
  5. Chill out behind the wheel. One too many speeding tickets should get you to drive a little more slowly. Would being able to save some money help in that respect as well? Aggressive driving (start, stop, speed up, slow down) and driving over the speed limit uses more gas in the long run than driving at a consistent, legal speed. So chill out behind the wheel for more cha-ching in your pocketbook.

Please let us know if you have any tried-and-true methods for saving money at the pump.


3 Responses to 5 Ways to Save at the Pump

  1. Dave Farquhar on January 15, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Spark plugs are another thing to remember. Change them when the manufacturer recommends, and use premium, fuel-saving plugs. A good mechanic can tell you what to use. Worn-out plugs can shave a couple of miles per gallon off your fuel economy.

    I’ve had mixed luck with the “fuel saver” packages that oil change places sell. A few years ago I got one, and it helped my fuel economy by 4-5 MPG. Then I got one in November, and if anything, it made it a little worse. Don’t buy one of those unless it has a money-back guarantee, and don’t be afraid to take them up on it if you don’t see an improvement after a couple of tanks of gas.

    Finally, warehouse clubs tend to be a little bit cheaper, but more importantly, they’re not quite as fast to raise prices. So if gas jumps 10 or 20 cents a gallon in a day, I head to Costco that night with both cars and with my gas cans. I always see several other people doing the same.

  2. Leah Ingram on January 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I would look for a leak–dripping sink, leaking pipe in the basement, etc. Good luck and let me know if/what you find.


  3. coleen on January 10, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Leah,
    This is totally off subject, but do you have any ideas on saving water? Every month my water bill is up $3-7. I have a top loading energy efficient washer and try to do only full loads. We don’t flush every time :) But any ideas would be wonderful!

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