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The Nitty Gritty

Frugal Fill-Ups: 15 Ways to Save at the Pump

As the average cost for a gallon of gas in the U.S. skyrockets, you don’t have to let fuel prices drive you crazy – there are plenty of steps you can take to put an immediate dent in your fuel usage, even when prices return to normal.

The national average cost reached an all-time high in 2022, shattering a nearly 14-year record and many states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey saw average gas prices higher than the national average, according to AAA’s gas price tracker. In other words, moving to another state won’t help much.

So, how can you lower your gas station costs?

You’ll save the most money at the pump if you drive a fuel-efficient car. Larger, heavy vehicles with higher-power engines can burn up to three times as much fuel as small cars – and as gas prices rise, your wallet will groan with every extra pound.

If it’s time for a trade in, you may want to consider purchasing a car that was built to get good gas mileage or one that doesn’t rely on gas at all. There may even be tempting tax breaks for investing in the latest technology like a hybrid or fully electric vehicle. Certain models qualify for a federal tax credit up to $7,500. Beyond that, a recent study found that driving an electric vehicle could lead to $4,700 or more in fuel savings over the first seven years of owning the car. (Looking for some help with your trade in or car shopping? Check out our free Auto Buying Concierge.)

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to go buy a new car right now, especially given the low inventory on dealership lots over the last two years or more. But there are still plenty of ways you can shave a few bucks off your fuel costs each month that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

First, make sure to take good car of your car, including all regularly scheduled maintenance based on the manufacturer recommendations. Once you see that “Check Engine” light, get to a mechanic right away to avoid excessive emissions issues.

Not only could proactive maintenance help you achieve better gas mileage, but it could also keep your car on the road for longer. For instance, make sure to keep your tires properly inflated and rotate them regularly. Your car’s fuel economy is reduced when you drive on underinflated tires, but low air can also impact the car’s handling and cause safety issues or wear the car down faster.

Here a few more tips and good habits to help you eek a little more gas mileage out of your car:

  1. Use websites and apps that list gas stations with the lowest prices such as gasbuddy.com
  2. Drive the speed limit to reduce drag, which limits your car’s gas mileage.
  3. Don’t drive far out of your way to save a few pennies at another gas station.
  4. Consider switching to regular instead of premium fuel - unless the manufacturer recommends it.
  5. Use cruise control on the open road to stay at a steady speed, but only when roads are clear and it’s safe to do so.
  6. At stoplights, take your foot off the accelerator and coast to your stopping point and accelerate slowly when leaving.
  7. Don’t rev your engine.
  8. Avoid idling for more than a minute. Modern cars don’t require idling to warm up in cold weather.
  9. Use GPS to avoid getting lost and wasting gas.
  10. Combine errands into one trip and plan your route ahead of time.
  11. With the current prevalence of remote work, ask your employer if they will let you work from home at least a few days per month
  12. Carpool to work or social events with friends and colleagues.
  13. Reduce your car’s overall weight by cleaning it out and removing unnecessary heavy items.
  14. Remove bike or storage racks when they’re not in use.
  15. Use the air conditioning less to reduce additional burden on the engine while driving.

Taking even a few of these small steps can add up to large savings to your fuel costs over time. And you don’t have to stop when prices come back down, either—building these tips into your regular routine can help you save at the pump regardless of market conditions.

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