One of the most expensive elements of vehicle maintenance is gas, costing $1,681.50 per year.¹ To be as cost-savvy as possible with your overall car upkeep, here are some ways you can pinch pennies when it comes to filling up your tank:
1) Cash back cards offer an immediate reduction in price of gas, groceries, and everyday spending
Signing up for a credit card that offers cash back on gas purchases can really help you save money at the pump. What you will get back varies on the card, but it can be hundreds of dollars more in your bank account at the end of the year.
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2) Keep your tires inflated
Sounds too simple, right? Well, it is. Making sure that your tires have the right amount of pressure can improve your fuel mileage by about 3.3%. Check out the pressure level printed on a sticker in the driver’s side doorjamb or glove box (not the pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall). This can save you $112 a year, though it can go up to $800 for drivers with severely deflated tires.
3) Monitor your speed
Speeding, hard breaking, rapid acceleration: these are some of the quickest ways to waste gas because this type of driving can lower your mileage by 33% at highway speeds and 5% around town. However, when you drive more sensibly, you can save up to $477 a year (which is between 13 and 89 cents a gallon), depending on how aggressive you drive and how many highway miles you end up accumulating.
You should also think about setting your cruise to 50 mph. Mileage usually goes down once your speed goes over that, and cruising at 50 can save you almost $200 a year (if you typically go 60 mph on the highway).
4) Quit idling
If you’re parked and waiting for extended periods of time (either in traffic or in a drive through), turn your engine off. Idling can cost you up to half a gallon of fuel per hour, whereas restarting your car only takes about 10 seconds worth of fuel. Manufactures also recommend you drive slowly 30 seconds after restarting it, since the engine will get warmer more quickly. This can save you $140 a year if you typically let your car idle for just two hours during a given week.
5) Combine errands
Hit all of your errands in one outing rather than in several. Make a list if you have to so that you can buy everything you need in one stop without having to make multiple trips to the store. If you save just 10 miles or so a week, that’s more than 500 miles a year. Your potential savings could be $25-$75 a year.
6) Mаіntаіn your motor
Lооkіng аftеr уоur саr саn not оnlу hеlр improve fuel economy a little, but іѕ іmроrtаnt fоr ѕаfеtу аnd the longevity of уоur vеhісlе. According tо thе EPA hаvіng your car рrореrlу tunеd саn improve gаѕ mіlеаgе by uр tо 4%, рrореrlу іnflаtіng tіrеѕ can help аѕ much аѕ 3% аnd uѕіng the correct oil іѕ gооd fоr up to 2%. Eѕѕеntіаllу, you want tо mаkе ѕurе уоur саr is rоllіng smoothly and соmbuѕtіng fuеl еffісіеntlу. Bad wheel аlіgnmеnt, аn under-inflated tіrе, dіrtу fіltеrѕ or a dоdgу ѕраrk рlug саn lеt уоur vehicle dоwn but аrе еаѕу tо fіx.
7) Dоn’t bе a drаg
Onсе уоu gеt tо аbоut 30 mph (48 km/h) a саr uses mоrе еnеrgу to оvеrсоmе wіnd resistance thаn it does fighting rоllіng rеѕіѕtаnсе. Sо уоu want уоur саr to bе аѕ аеrоdуnаmіс аѕ роѕѕіblе for highway driving. Hаvіng уоur ѕun roof ореn or wіndоwѕ dоwn саn increase drаg a lіttlе at higher ѕрееdѕ. Leaving a rооf box оr bіkе rасk on wіll have a lаrgеr еffесt, but еѕtіmаtеѕ vаrу wіdеlу оn thіѕ frоm a 1% tо a 15% rеduсtіоn in fuеl economy.
8) Exact location of the cheapest gas station
Gasbuddy.com has thousands of members that are constantly updating gas station prices in your area. It’s also helpful on road trips — when you’re in an unfamiliar area, it will still find low prices nearby. Time Money found the following price difference using “…the MONEY office’s zip code, we were able to find a 50-cent price difference per gallon between the five nearest gas stations. If that differential held, it would yield almost $270 in annual savings.”²
Be Smart, Save Big
After a home, a car is one of the biggest purchasers that consumers make, and a lot goes into its basic upkeep and maintenance. However, when you’re self-aware with your driving, you can watch those dollars fly back to where they belong: your pocket.
1. Annual Cost to Own and Operate a Vehicle Falls to $8,698, Finds AAA. AAA.com.
2. 23 Ways to Slash Your Car Expenses. Time.com.