Pump Up & Spend Less: 5 Ways to Save Gas Money

From summer road trips to shuttling between school, work, sports, and errands, driving is an everyday essential for most of us. And all that driving means a whole lot of gas. Thankfully, gas doesn’t have to be a money guzzler.

From apps that can help you save on gas spending and usage, to simple (but expensive) habits you can change, here are five ways to start saving on gas today.

1. Let the apps do the saving

Want to know where the cheapest gas is nearby? Which route will be the most energy-efficient? The details of your daily gas usage? There’s an app for that. Here are a few apps that will help you fill up and drive smarter:

Waze (Web, iOS, Android) There’s nothing like getting stuck in traffic to eat up your fuel. Stay on top of traffic — and avoid it — with Waze’s real-time updates. Community-generated information lets you know about road hazards and traffic jams, while the map helps you choose the fastest and most fuel-efficient route. Download cost: Free

Use TankWallet app to lock in gas prices

TankWallet (iOS, Android) TankWallet makes it easy to shop around for the lowest gas price in your area. Search by address or your current location (great for when you’re on the road) to compare pump prices. It also lets you lock in today’s prices for future fill-ups, up to a year in advance — super helpful for your personal budgeting. (Remember: Don’t wait until the last minute to fill up, or you’ll be stuck going to the closest, station, which may not be the cheapest one.) Download cost: Free

Gas Manager (iOS, Android) A great tool for drivers with multiple vehicles, this freemium app lets you create a dashboard to keep track of your fuel consumption, miles traveled, and more. Bonus: It also helps track your vehicle’s carbon footprint and locate your car when you forgot where you parked. Download cost: The first 10 fill-ups is free; then, an in-app purchase ($3.99) unlocks unlimited tracking.

2. Go Steady

Easy does it. While stop-and-go traffic is one cause of fuel inefficiency, your led foot may be the key culprit. Quickly accelerating (and decelerating) eats up gas. In fact, a study by Edumds.com shows that a moderate driving style saves up to 37% percent, and an average of 31%, over aggressive driving. The same study revealed the using cruise control can save you up to 14%, and an average of 7%.

3. Stay Cool

Cool down wisely. According to fueleconomy.gov, air conditioning is fuel economy’s biggest enemy in hot weather. In high heat, the AC can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by over 25%. Save yourself some miles by rolling down the windows when you’re moving slowly (stuck in traffic). When you speed up on the highway, opt for AC. Why? Open windows at high speeds make for bad aerodynamics, forcing your vehicle to work harder to push through the air.

TankWallet Tip: Don’t bother starting the AC before you hit the road. Instead, let air out the cabin briefly (to let that extra hot air out), and start driving with the AC. The system cools your car faster while driving than idling.

4. Go Light & Low

Pack light — it pays. The EPA reports that carrying an extra 100 pounds of weight in your vehicle reduces our fuel economy about 1%. The smaller your car, the bigger the impact of added weight. Also, beware the rooftop cargo — another enemy of aerodynamics. According to the EPA, a large rooftop cargo box can reduce fuel economy by 10–25% at highway speeds (65–75 mph). Rear-mount cargo carriers are far more efficient, reducing fuel efficiency by 1–5% on the highway.

5. Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance

Love your vehicle! Give it the attention it deserves, and you’ll thank yourself later. The EPA advises that following your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation on motor oil grade can improve gas mileage by 1–2%. Keep your tires inflated and stay on top of your car maintenance. Follow your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule (check the owner’s manual) with a mechanic you trust.

Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to saving at the pump and on road. Rest assured, these are just the tip of the iceberg. From carpooling to choosing efficient errand routes and paying in cash at the pump (or with a credit card that rewards you for your fill-ups), there are countless ways to travel smart. Follow us to get more tips.

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