With the summertime driving season here, gas consumption is at a premium. Here are 10 tips on keeping your gas costs low.
1. Don’t overfill
As tempting as it is to fill your tank right to the brim, try and refrain. Overfilling results in gas sloshing over and running down the side of your car. That’s bad for your paint job, the environment and your wallet.
Once the nozzle clicks the first time, stop there.
2. Low-octane is OK
Unless you’re driving a car that specifically requires it (which should be noted in the owner’s manual), there’s no need to fill up with pricey high-octane fuel.
Buy the lowest octane that’s appropriate for your vehicle to save on money.
3. Tighten your gas cap
A loose gas cap will allow gas to evaporate from your car – along with the cash you just filled up with.
Gas caps are part of your car’s Evaporative Emission System (EVAP). Loose, missing or damaged gas caps mean your EVAP system isn’t working, which allows for gas evaporation.
4. Tune up your car
If your car is out of tune, or has failed an emissions test, getting it tuned up will boost gas mileage.
A key point to look for in a tune-up is worn spark plugs. A misfiring spark plug can dramatically reduce a car’s fuel efficiency.
5. Find credit card discounts
Some credit cards will give you savings on gas when you use their card for purchases. It’s a similar program to airline-linked credit cards that give you frequent flier miles.
PenFed, Chase and Discover are three of the companies that have some of the best promotions.
6. Belong to the club
Some gas stations have their own membership groups, or they are tied in to area department and grocery store chains. Using these store memberships can save you serious money at the pump.
7. Don’t bother with the brand names
Does your locally owned and operated corner store have gas pumps? They get the same gas as the shiny brand-name gas station that’s on every corner. They’re using the same refineries, trucks and pipelines – if your local store has better prices, buy there.
8. Get away from the highway
The highest prices on gas are usually at highway rest areas or at gas stations just off the exit ramp. These stations are feeding on that traffic, and charging higher prices as a result.
If you can get off the highway and get into town at least a few blocks, you’ll find less expensive gas prices.
9. If you’re in the city, stay local
While a penny-pincher might crow with success at driving across town to find gas that’s a nickel cheaper, in reality all the miles you’ll drive will more than likely negate your savings. Stop-and-go traffic does not do good things for fuel efficiency or greenhouse gas emissions.
10. Keep a log
If you’re taking a summer trip, keep a journal of the “mileage wins” and “mileage losses” of your trip.
For example, you could note: “Drove to the restaurant downtown only to find they had a two-hour wait. Should have made a reservation.” Or “Headed to the ballpark at 4:30 only to be stuck in traffic for 90 minutes and couldn’t find parking for another 45. Should have used mass transit.”