Last updated: October 2022
For as long as we’ve been driving cars, we’ve all been searching for ways to save money on gas and wondering how to improve gas mileage. But what are the best ways to squeeze a few more miles per gallon out of your vehicle or shave off 10 to 20 cents per gallon at the pump? Here are our best gas-money-saving and fuel-saving tips.
What is Gas Mileage?
Before we get to the tips, let’s define gas mileage. It’s simply the ratio of miles you drive in your car to the amount of gas you burn. It’s typically measured in miles per gallon (MPG). For example, if you drive 300 miles in your car and burn 10 gallons of gas, your car just averaged 30 MPG. The higher your car’s MPG, the more fuel-efficient it is.
How to Improve Gas Mileage
If you’re searching for ways to increase fuel economy, try these five tips to boost your vehicle’s MPG.
1. Lighten the load.
Think about how long it would take you to run down the street. Now, think about how long it would take you to do the same thing but with a heavy backpack. Even though your car has an engine and weighs several thousand pounds, extra weight can slow it down and cause it to burn more fuel. In fact, the EPA says your fuel efficiency drops roughly 1% for every 100 pounds you add to your car. So, while there are certain things you want to keep in your trunk year-round, take out those old golf clubs you never use or those clothes you forgot to donate.
2. Fill up your tires.
If your tires are underinflated, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of a blowout or accident. You’re probably going to be visiting the gas station to fill up more often, as well. The EPA says you can improve your fuel efficiency between 0.6% and 3% by ensuring your tires are at the proper pressure.
3. Turn off your car when you’re not driving.
Ever wondered how to improve your car’s performance for free? Don’t sit in an idle vehicle. It might sound simple, but think of all the times you let your car warm up in the cold. What about the times you turn your vehicle on and sit on the phone for 20 minutes before moving? Maybe you like sitting in your driveway until your favorite song finishes playing. No matter the reason, one Environmental Defense Fund report showed that you could burn anywhere from 1/5 to 7/10 of a gallon per idle hour. That might not sound like much, but it can add up quickly.
4. Drive efficiently.
Rapid acceleration, braking, and speeding can all lower your gas mileage. Try to stick to the speed limit as much as possible. Cruise control can help you maintain a steady speed and save you gas when you’re on the highway. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, using the right gears can improve gas mileage.
5. Get your vehicle serviced regularly.
It may seem like common sense, but if you take care of your car, it will probably get better gas mileage. Make sure to change the oil regularly and get tune-ups from time to time. When you need service or repairs, take care of it as quickly as possible. Minor changes, like switching to the right grade motor oil, can improve your fuel efficiency by as much as 2%, according to the EPA.
Ways to Save Money on Gas
Now, let’s look at some ways to cut down fuel costs! Here are six tips to help those who have ever wondered how to save money on gas.
1. Carpool or take public transit.
If you take turns driving with friends to and from work, you’ll all use less gas and save money. Plus, you will all spend less time behind the wheel in stressful situations. If your city has reliable public transit, consider using it to save.
2. Download apps to compare prices.
Some apps, like GasBuddy and Waze, allow users to report gas prices in real-time. With all the data coming in, drivers can make informed decisions about filling up.
3. Join a fuel rewards program.
Some gas stations have fuel rewards programs that allow you to save at the pump. You also might be able to save on gas with a grocery store membership like Costco or Kroger. Imagine saving 10, 20, or 30 cents just by buying eggs, bread, and other household essentials. Score!
4. Buy a vehicle that gets good gas mileage.
If you drive regularly and are considering purchasing a new ride soon, look for a more fuel-efficient vehicle that’s cheap to insure. Think of it as a long-term investment. Even if you pay a little more now, you’ll save money in the long run. If you look at hybrids or electric vehicles, you might be able to save even more.
5. Pay with cash.
Most people pay by card these days, but sometimes cash really is king. According to GasBuddy, when it comes time to pay at the pump, cash could help you save money. They note that some station owners will offer a slight discount to customers who pay cash because it can help eliminate fees associated with credit cards.
6. Fill up on the right day of the week.
If you’ve ever wondered if certain days are better than others when it comes to saving at the pump, GasBuddy’s multi-year research has shown Monday is the best day to buy gas. The trend has continued for several years but keep an eye out for any changes in the future to make sure you’re filling up on the right day.