Gas prices are incredibly high right now, leaving many families wondering how they can offset the costs.
One option is to sell your current car and buy one that’s more fuel-efficient. Increasingly that’s something people are doing, not only to deal with gas prices but for more efficiency overall.
For example, if you went from a large SUV to a small car, you could save thousands of dollars a year on gas depending on where you live and how much you drive.
If you aren’t ready to take that leap quite yet, the following are some things you should know about the current gas situation and how you can save money.
Why Are Prices So High?
A report in October from AAA found gas prices hit the highest average levels since 2014, and they’ve gone up even since then.
Gas prices have hit levels this year, not seen since the last decade. As of November 8, the average price was $3.41 a gallon.
So what are the reasons?
Americans are driving more because the pandemic has calmed down somewhat, and there have also been problems in domestic supply chains, as well as issues in overseas energy markets, driving up the cost of crude oil.
The number of Americans on roadways went down dramatically in spring 2020, however, in the past few months it’s gone back up to more normal levels.
U.S. oil production hasn’t kept pace.
So what can your family do about a big issue?
Using sites and apps like GasBuddy can help you comparison shop before you buy gas. These tools often survey tens of thousands of gas stations across the country, and you can enter your zip code to find the cheapest fuel near you.
If you live in town or in a big city and you can go outside of the city limits, you’ll probably find cheaper gas.
If you have a big box warehouse membership to a store like Costco, they often have the best gas prices you’re going to find. On the other hand, independent stations might offer discounts for things like cash transactions in exchange for not paying credit-card companies.
If you drive quite a bit, or you’re going to head on a road trip, for example, comparison shopping can save you a fair amount of money on gas.
Be Strategic with Credit Cards
Depending on how you feel about using credit cards in general, they can be helpful when it comes to saving gas if you’re strategic.
Some cards offer rewards specifically for gas purchases, but before you sign up, make sure there isn’t an annual fee to eliminate any savings you got from the card. Also some cards have a cap on gas savings quarterly or annually.
Before you use a credit card, ensure you understand the redemption value and make sure that you know whether your card offers you rewards on anything you buy at a gas station or just the purchases you make at the pump.
If you use a credit card as a strategy to save on gas, don’t let your balance accumulate. Always pay it off because interest can erode or even erase your savings.
Don’t Use Premium Gas Unless You Have To
The quality of the gas available has gone up drastically in recent decades. Most cars today are going to operate fine on regular or mid-grade gas. If your car actually requires premium gasoline your owner’s manual will tell you. Otherwise, you’re probably wasting money by buying it.
If your car recommends premium gas, you can probably use a lower grade. The only time you absolutely have to use premium gasoline is when it says it’s required.
Take Steps to Improve Your Fuel Efficiency
The following are simple things you can do to boost your fuel efficiency.
- Be easy on your gas pedal and your brake pedal, for that matter. When you speed, drive aggressively, or rapidly brake and accelerate, it’s wasting gas. Right now, that’s the last thing you want to do. Research shows that depending on the type of car you drive, bad habits behind the wheel can affect your fuel economy by anywhere from 15% to 30%. You could end up saving around $1.24 per gallon based on current price estimates if you watch your driving tendencies.
- We mentioned speed above, but it’s also worth talking about on its own. Every mile per hour you go over 50 mph, you’re going to pay around 22 cents more for every gallon of gas.
- Don’t lug too many things in your vehicle because heavy weight in the car reduces your gas mileage.
- If you’re on the highway or interstate or anywhere else it’s appropriate, use your cruise control. You can save around 43 cents a gallon.
- Make sure your tire pressure is correct. Underinflated tires waste around 1.25 billion gallons of gas every year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If you aren’t sure the proper inflation level for your tires, check your owner’s manual.
- Take your car in for regular servicing. The mechanic should check your spark plugs. When they’re bad, they can decrease your fuel economy by 30%. If you see a sudden drop in your gas mileage, there’s a good likelihood it’s related to your spark plugs. You should also have your mechanic check your alignment. When your car isn’t properly aligned, it can diminish fuel efficiency by as much as 10%.
- When you fill your tank, try to do it either early in the day or later in the night. If you fill your tank outside of the hottest part of the day, the gas is denser, so you get more gas but pay the same amount.
Rising gas isn’t ideal for anyone, and it can significantly affect families. This is particularly true if you’re planning to travel for the upcoming holiday season. By doing the things above, you can save yourself some money.