How to Save Money on Gas—18 Easy Ways to Save
Everyone's feeling a pinch at the pump, but you can save money on gas with these simple tips.
Daily commuters, road trippers, and pretty much everyone with a driver’s license wants to know how to save money on gas. That’s always been the case, but it’s especially true now.
According to data from fuel-saving smartphone app GasBuddy, the average gas price in the United States recently reached an all-time high (unadjusted for inflation) of $4.104 a gallon. The previous record of $4.103 a gallon had stood for nearly 14 years. As fuel costs soar after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the United States’ ban on Russian oil imports, President Biden has warned American drivers that the financial impact of fueling up could get worse before it gets better.
We’re here to help your wallet by teaching you exactly how to save money on gas. The tips below will show you how to find cheap gas, how to get better gas mileage, and the best gas apps and gas credit cards to use in the process. Ready for big-time savings? Start reading.
1. Plan the best route
Getting from point A to point B quickly sounds like the best way to save gas. After all, shorter distances mean less time on the road and less fuel used, right? Well, not exactly.
It’s more important to take the route that helps you avoid traffic, construction, and congestion. Yes, it may seem counterintuitive to drive more miles to save gas money, but some longer routes may actually be more fuel efficient, says Kyle Tetz, a former Honda employee, van life and travel expert, and founder of travel website The Next Trip.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, highway traffic can lower your gas mileage by 15 to 30 percent, and stop-and-go traffic can cut it by 10 to 40 percent. With that in mind, here’s how to save money on gas: Fully plot a route ahead of time, using an American road trip guide, map app, or Google Maps to pick roads where you can maintain a steady speed and avoid traffic or city stoplights.
You can then use the mileage to calculate gas costs for your trip. As a bonus, you’ll also suffer less brake wear and road rage.
2. Drive on properly inflated tires
Proper inflation of all four tires is the key to maximizing gas mileage, says Rick Cornilie, senior product merchandising manager (and resident tire and auto expert) at Simple Tire. He adds that while engine efficiency is essential for getting better miles per gallon when driving, your tires need to be properly and optimally inflated in order to maximize the engine’s potential.
Underinflated tires will deliver poor gas mileage and lead to more trips to the pump, which will cost you a lot of extra money throughout the year. Ensuring your tires are properly inflated is on every road trip essentials checklist.
3. Remove excess weight from your car
The heavier your car is, the less fuel efficient it will become, says Lauren Fix of the Car Coach Reports website. If you’re looking for a super-simple solution when researching how to save gas and get more miles per gallon, start by removing unnecessary objects from your car.
But don’t stop there. Avoid hauling bulky items on the roof as well. You’ll increase your vehicle’s aerodynamics and help keep your car as fuel-efficient as possible, Fix says.
Granted, this isn’t always possible. When road-tripping across the country, loading the car with essentials is, well, essential. If you take a lot of road trips, invest in a road trip car that offers ideal fuel economy.
4. Stop warming up your car
We get it: Mornings are chilly, and slipping into a toasty front seat is borderline divine in the winter. But your fuel economy is going to suffer, and you’ll find yourself at the pump sooner if you keep warming up your car. Modern cars don’t need anything more than a minute to “wake up.” Letting your car warm up any more than that is unnecessary.
With gas prices rising, the warmth will ultimately leave you cold as you spend extra money at the pump. Speaking of filling ‘er up, here’s how gas pumps know when your tank is full.
5. Precool your hybrid vehicle
If you drive an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, get into the habit of turning on the AC while the car is still plugged into its charger. Doing this will help extend your vehicle’s range once it’s on the road—and for hybrid cars, this means spending less money on gas at the pump.
6. Use rideshares more
In recent years, using rideshare services to get around has been a great way to save money on gas. After all, if you aren’t paying to fill up a gas tank, you aren’t spending any money at all at the pump. Though this perk is changing slightly—Uber and Lyft have started tacking on 45- to 55-cent fuel surcharges per ride to help drivers offset the rising cost of gas—it doesn’t mean rideshares are automatically too expensive.
Depending on your commute and your needs, ditching your car for a rideshare could be the answer to how to save money on gas in 2022.
7. Use public transportation
You can certainly bike and carpool around town, but public transportation continues to be an affordable, safe, and reliable way to get to most destinations in cities and towns across the country. And there’s no need to learn how to save money on gas when you don’t use the stuff.
Nix your gas needs by taking buses, trains, trolleys, and subways to and from work, for nights out, and when you do your weekly shopping. Going sans car may seem inconvenient at first, but the money you’ll save by not paying to fill up at $4 or $5 a gallon may change your attitude toward public transportation.
8. Minimize AC usage in traffic
Neziha Kalı Ertuğrul/Getty Images
If you’re going to be driving this summer, consider being more judicious with how and when you blast the AC. Turning off the air-conditioner while in stop-and-go traffic or moving at slower speeds can increase fuel efficiency and help save you money. So get in the habit of rolling down the windows, turning up the music, and basking in the glow of knowing how to save money on gas while idling in city traffic.
9. Keep your windows up on the highway
Putting the windows down and turning off the air-conditioner is a trick best performed in traffic. When you’re on the highway, using the AC is your best bet for cooling.
The wind may feel great coursing through your hair on a summer road trip, but wind resistance can create aerodynamic drag and cause your vehicle to use more energy. And when your car uses more energy, you end up at the fuel pump paying the high gas prices more often,
10. Maintain a steady speed
Believe it or not, you’ll learn how to save gas when you learn how to drive better. (Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you take your driver’s test again.) You get better miles per gallon performance when you maintain a consistent speed while driving. Over time, this will make your vehicle more fuel efficient. And you know what that means: You can spend less money on fuel.
Experts say the best fuel economy is achieved when you’re driving steadily between 50 and 65 miles per hour. So cool it with flooring the gas only to brake again in traffic.
11. Know when to use cruise control
Cruise control is great for maintaining a steady speed on flat terrains such as highways, and that can help you conserve fuel. But when the road becomes hilly or mountainous, cruise control makes your vehicle use too much gas as it accelerates up steep inclines.
To save gas and, in turn, money, allow your speed to slightly decrease as you go up a hill before slowly accelerating as you go down. Your engine won’t have to work too hard, and you can fill up your gas tank less often. And if you’re in the market for a new ride, opt for a car with great fuel economy.
12. Don’t drive aggressively
When it comes to getting better gas mileage, you can save money and reduce stress at the same time by driving with less aggression. Accelerating hard at green lights and braking at the last minute when a stoplight turns red isn’t just poor driver etiquette, it’s also a terrible waste of gas.
Aggressive driving habits like these make your vehicle less fuel efficient and ultimately cost you extra money at the gas pump. Instead, drive calmly, steadily, and safely. Doing so will reduce stress in you and the drivers around you, and it’ll increase your fuel economy by as much as 33 percent at highway speeds.
13. Opt for regular gas
Aurelian Lupu/Getty Images
Unless your vehicle requires it, only fill up with regular gas, not premium or diesel fuel. According to car-buying site True Car, there is no reason to pay good money for something you don’t need.
On average, premium gasoline costs about 50 cents more per gallon than regular and has no impact on vehicles that are unable to take advantage of it. The Federal Trade Commission notes that “in most cases, using a higher-octane gasoline than your owner’s manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit. It won’t make your car perform better, go faster, get better mileage, or run cleaner.”
14. Compare gas prices on the road ahead
With gas apps, you can easily find the cheapest gas prices based on your current location, route, and destination before you even hit the road. Apps like GasBuddy and GasGuru help you master how to save money on gas with little more than the touch of a button.
Downloading a gas price comparison app before your next road trip is a must, as is downloading a road trip app and following the steps in this road trip survival guide.
15. Use a gas credit card that rewards filling up
All but a small fraction of drivers use credit cards at the pump, according to reports from GasBuddy. That’s a good thing. Cash doesn’t offer a single reward perk. Credit cards do. But be sure you’re using a card that provides the most perks at the pump.
Many of the best gas credit cards offer valuable rewards, such as 5 percent cash back, travel miles, and extra points to entice you into swiping the card at the gas station. If you’re good at paying your credit cards off in full (not doing so will end up costing you even more than the money you saved), a gas station card may be your best bet.
16. Be loyal to a brand of gas
Nearly all gas stations have a loyalty program and an app, and signing up for them is a simple way to save money on gas this year. For example, 7-Eleven’s gas loyalty program offers a discount of 11 cents per gallon for the first seven fill-ups. The national king of cheap gas, though, is the same king of bulk shopping and free samples. Here’s how Costco keeps its gas prices so low.
17. Maximize your grocery store perks
Speaking of loyalty: Some grocery stores have their own gas stations or partner with certain chains. They’ll let you use your grocery store loyalty reward points to save money on gas. You may be able to save 5 cents, 10 cents, or more per gallon the next time you fill up, simply by doing your weekly grocery shopping.
18. Know the best days to buy gas
You might assume Monday is an expensive day to buy gas, what with commuters hitting the road again after the weekend. Yet it’s actually the best day to fill up, according to GasBuddy. On average across the country, Mondays serve up the cheapest gas-per-gallon prices of the week. Conversely, filling up on a Thursday will cost you the most.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Consumer Expenditures – 2020”
- Kyle Tetz, former Honda employee, van life and travel expert, and founder of The Next Trip
- U.S. Department of Energy: “Driving More Efficiently”
- Rick Cornilie, senior product merchandising manager and resident tire and auto expert at Simple Tire
- Lauren Fix, Car Coach Reports
- Gas Buddy: “GasBuddy Reveals the Cheapest and Most Expensive Days of the Week to Buy Gas”
- True Car: “Premium vs. Regular Gas Explained”