Everyone is talking about gas prices. People in my Nextdoor app are blaming it on pipelines and US political decisions. I want to explain that gas prices are high all over the world. No country has a magic pipeline that suddenly makes the cost of a barrel of oil to go from $110 to $55. Oil companies in the US produce oil as they see fit… they don’t ask political leaders for permission.
Today, I’ve got an article from 2008. That was a long time ago. Gas prices were through the roof. Oil reached around $180 a barrel. The spike that high was quick, but oil (and gas) prices still stayed above $120 a barrel for months.
A friend of mine cheered on the high oil prices. His theory was that it would be the push necessary for everyone to go to green alternatives. Instead, we just went to fracking to get more oil easier. There’s nothing to cheer about now with high oil prices. It does seem that some countries (especially in Europe) are learning their lesson about depending on foreign oil and switching to green alternatives. I’m hoping that United States makes a greater push for green alternatives.
Those greener alternatives are coming. When I wrote this article, I would be 7 years away from buying solar panels. Now I’ve had them for 7 years. Our next car will be an electric one. Until then, we still are looking at ways to save money on gas:
- Brakes are your enemy. When you step on them, you have spent gas to go nowhere. Think ahead to limit the amount of brakes that you need to use. Trust me, it becomes a habit very quickly and you no longer have to think.
- Coast to red lights. Why use gas when you are going to have to stop?
- Coast down hills. I see a lot of people gunning it just to have to brake when they reach person in front of them.
- Coast to green lights far ahead of you. If it has been green for a LONG time, you might not make that light by the time you get there. That will force you to brake (see #1).
- Don’t tailgate… …In fact do the opposite. Leave plenty of room between you and the person in front of you. If the person needs to slow down a little, you can coast to catch up a little instead of using your brakes.
- Take three rights instead of a left. UPS drivers do this in metro areas like NYC and found that they save fuel that would have been spent idling. Only look to do this at those really difficult left turns.
- Use Cruise Control. A constant speed is the most fuel efficient.
- Drive between 40-60 miles per hour. If you have a lighter car, you can aim for the 60 MPH number. If you have a heavier car, you’ll want to go 40 MPH.
- Avoid Traffic. Don’t drive during times of high traffic if you can avoid it.
- Use a GPS tracker. Time spent lost is gas wasted.
- Avoid air conditioning (if you stand it). Some tests seem to show that it’s not a big factor, so if it really impacts your comfort level, you might want to consider using air conditioning.
- Don’t carry extra weight in your trunk. I do like to have some emergency supplies in the my trunk, but I won’t leave a bunch of weight in there if I’m not going to use it.
- Convert your car to run on vegetable oil. Then filter your own oil from the stuff that restaurants don’t use.
- Remove any obvious wind resistance. This includes any bike racks, antenna ornaments, etc. Some say that rolling the windows down creates drag and others say it’s not a significant factor.
- Get low rolling resistance tires. These are tires designed to minimize the wasted energy due to the normal friction with the road.
- Check your air filter. The Balance says it reduces gasoline mileage up to 10%.
- Check the tire pressure Air pressure matters. Follow your manual and you’ll get more miles for every gallon. You can get a highly-rated tire pressure gauge from Amazon for less than $25.
- Use a fuel injector cleaner. You can pick this up an any car part store. Add to a tank full of gas or as instructed.
- Get a credit card with gas rewards. The Chase Perfect Card with give you 6% cash back on your gas purchases for the first 90 days, then 3% after that. That’s like getting a 12 cents a gallon discount.
- Consider not using a credit card. This goes against the above idea. There are gas stations near me that give discounts if you pay with cash or debit cards. Find what works for you.
- Use the web to find the cheapest station near you. I like to use GasBuddy myself.
- Don’t drive out of your way for the best price. It doesn’t make sense to spend a gallon of gas driving out of your way to save a couple of pennies. You’d have to have a huge tank and a very fuel efficient car to make it work.
- Find cheap gas in unusual places. When I lived in Boston, the cheapest gas was from a local grocery store chain. My wife, who lived a little further out west, found that the warehouse club she belonged to had better prices most of the time.
- Don’t buy premium grade… unless your car requires it.
- Consider a different car. Do you drive great distances in an car that gets poor gas mileage? If so, you might save more money selling your current car and buying a different one. It’s not a common situation, but one worth checking out.
- Buy a Hybrid or Electric Car. One of the great things about updating an article from 2008 is that electric cars weren’t readily available. If you buy a hybrid cars, take note – not all amazing gas mileage.
- Buy a Small Car. Smaller cars weigh less. It’s simple physics that moving a bigger object requires more power. Small cars also typically come with engines that have four cylinders which often get better gas mileage.
- Buy a Motorcycle. Though I consider them quite dangerous, it is a way to save on gas. As a bonus you may get to ride in many high occupancy vehicle lanes
- Don’t buy a car that requires premium grade gas.
- Use a bike or walk. It’s also good exercise, so you kill two birds with one stone.
- Park far away. This is typically a health tip, but I see too many spending their gas going up and down the lanes looking for the best possible parking spot.
- Reduce your commute by moving closer to your job. My Money Blog did a great example on commuting showing the math vs. living in higher cost cities. Since he did it in March, his cost estimate for gas is conservative.
- Follow the price of crude oil. I like to look at CNBC every now and again. If it rises today, there’s a good chance gas prices will go up in 3-4 days. If it drops, it might be wise to wait for that to filter to your local gas station.
- Explore buy gas on Wednesdays. I’ve read that statistically gas is cheaper on Wednesdays. That’s helpful, but others say that there are so many other factors to consider that it’s worthwhile. Perhaps you might want to futher investigate yourself or just do it if it’s convenient.
- Buy gas a few days before a holiday. Have you ever tried to get gas on Memorial or Labor Day weekends? It seems like gas station always raise rates, knowing that you are going to pay it.
Be a More Efficient Driver
Make Your Car More Efficient
Get the Best Price on Gas
Pick the Right Car
Don’t Drive as Much
Get Gas at the Right Time
- Fill up when it’s cool. People think that cooler gas is denser, but some studies show that the temperature coming out of the tank is the same.
Did I miss any gas-saving tips? Let me know in the comments.