Five Ways to Save at the Pump

Even with prices low, there's no reason to pay more for gas than necessary.

By Familytime


If you own a car — or even if you rent one now and then — there's no way to avoid fluctuating prices at the pumps. Even with today's relatively low prices, it makes sense to improve your car's gas mileage and save some money.

Here are our top five picks for keeping some cash in your wallet when you fill up your car.

  1. Good maintenance: If you change the car's oil and air filters regularly, it will run more efficiently. This means every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. It's also a good idea to change your spark plugs every 75,000 miles. Keep your tires properly inflated, too. Doing so really does make a difference with gas mileage.
  2. Fill 'er up: When you get to the pump, fill the tank all the way. You won't save money if you put $15 worth of gas in the tank every few days, and you'll waste time, too. On the other hand, don't top off the tank. This just produces fumes that add to air pollution. The best time to fill the tank is when it's a quarter full. It's not good for the fuel pump to run the car when gas levels are lower than a quarter tank. And it's a good idea to fill the car on Wednesdays or Thursdays, before weekend price hikes.
  3. Keep calm and drive: Don't gun the engine or jam on the brakes, unless you have to. Smooth starts and stops are good for saving gas. Letting your car idle is not only bad for air quality, it gobbles gas. If you are going to idle for longer than 60 seconds, turn off the engine. And finally, maintain speeds on the highway below 70 mph, and when you can, use cruise control.
  4. Look for the right gas station: Check out prices and frequent the stations with the best ones. It makes no sense to drive miles out of the way to save ten cents a gallon, but it's equally ridiculous to pull into the stations along the highways or directly off the exits, which usually charge significantly more. Try to find stations that don't charge higher prices for using a credit or debit card instead of cash.
  5. Use apps: There are apps to help you find the best gas prices in your area. And you can use your smart phone to check out traffic when you're heading for an Interstate or other highway.

Of course, the best way to save money on gas is to drive less. Take public transportation when possible, grab rides with friends, and for short distances, ride a bike or even walk.

We're not going to be free of the internal combustion engine in the foreseeable future, and so will have to keep relying on fossil fuel, but there are ways we can reduce our dependence. And let's face it: Every little bit helps!