By Lauren Fix, The Car Coach
When people see how easy it is to boost their car’s fuel economy, they’re often surprised to find it can become an interesting game and a financially rewarding one. The average household spends about $1,650 a year on gasoline, according to AAA, so there’s plenty of room for savings.
Here are five hacks that could chop hundreds of dollars off your annual gas bill.
When gas prices spike, the price of fuel-efficient vehicles also rises. This is not the time to rush out and buy a Prius or an EV or similar vehicle. Read to the end for bonus free hack that will save you money immediately.
The biggest culprit of gas guzzling is aggressive driving, rapid acceleration and not coasting to a traffic light or stop sign. Drivers who changed their driving habits to a calmer driving style could save 33 to 38 percent on gas.
Check your Tire Pressure
Check your tire pressure and make sure it matches the manufacturer’s recommended rating. That can be found on a sticker inside the driver’s side doorjamb. It’s important not only for fuel economy, but also for improved safety and the prevention of tire wear, which could save you even more money.
Use the Proper Gasoline
We have covered this in the past. Knowing when to use premium comes down to the difference between two words: “required” and “recommended.”
If your car requires premium gas, you must use it to avoid damage to your engine. If your car recommends premium, experiment with using lower grades. If it still performs well and delivers the same fuel economy, you can skip the premium.
Schedule Your Gas Run
Wednesday is typically the best day to fill up for less. Prices tend to rise on Thursdays in anticipation of weekend travel. In fact, a recent study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve found that refueling on a Tuesday or Wednesday instead of the weekend saved 8 cents to 9 cents a gallon—saving you more than $60 per year. It also pays to fill up early in the day. Station owners tend to hike prices after 9 AM or so, once they’ve had time to check the competition.
Drivers often think finding the cheapest price around is the key to savings. Rather than drive across town to save a nickel a gallon, it’s much better to find convenient stations along your commute or places you pass frequently. You can track local gas prices using the GasBuddy app, which aggregates price data from user reports.
Another option, join a warehouse club such as BJ’s or Costco. The difference between the cost of regular fuel at chain gas station and a local warehouse club in California was 45 cents a gallon. For that 15-gallon fill-up, that’s $6.75 in savings. Combine that with a member’s credit card and the savings add up even faster.
Bonus Tip on Saving Gas
Whether you’re waiting to pick up someone or waiting at the drive-through, turn off the engine if your wait is longer than 10 seconds. Idling drains your tank by a quarter- to a half-gallon of fuel per hour, whereas restarting only sips 10 seconds worth of gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Even in winter, there’s no need to sit in your driveway “warming up” the engine for 20 minutes. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after 30 seconds.
While many of us know some of the basics of good fuel economy—like keeping your tires properly inflated, staying up on car maintenance, ditching excess cargo—adopting these lesser-known gas saving strategies won’t hurt.
If you have additional questions, put them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer.
Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, analyst, author, and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and aspects, energy, industry, consumer news, and safety issues.
Lauren is the CEO of Automotive Aspects and the Editor-in-Chief of Car Coach Reports, a global automotive news outlet. She is an automotive contributor to national and local television news shows, including Fox News, Fox Business, CNN International, The Weather Channel, Inside Edition, Local Now News, Community Digital News, and more. Lauren also co-hosts a regular show on ABC.com with Paul Brian called “His Turn – Her Turn” and hosts regular radio segments on USA Radio – DayBreak.
Lauren is honored to be inducted into the Women’s Transportation Hall of Fame and a Board Member of the Buffalo Motorcar Museum, and Juror / President for the North American Car, Utility & Truck of the Year Awards.
Check her out on Twitter and Instagram @LaurenFix.