With gas prices on the rise, it makes sense to try to save money when you can behind the wheel.
In this article, I’m going to show you some time-tested strategies on how to save at the pump with advice from money expert Clark Howard and Team Clark.
Here Are Some Easy Ways to Save on Gas
Lots of people have their own little tricks to save money on gas, but check out the 20+ strategies here to see if you might be able to save even more.
For your convenience, I’ve separated these saving techniques into five categories.
Table of Contents
Ready to see how to save money at the pump? Start your engines!
Get Your Car Checked Out Regularly
It may not be the most fun item on your to-do list, but you should always get your car’s regularly scheduled maintenance done. If you don’t, it could have a negative effect on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and engine health.
Keep Your Tire Pressure at the Recommended Level
Not only does keeping your tires filled with the correct amount of tire pressure keep them from deteriorating as quickly, but it also boosts your fuel economy by 0.6% which, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, saves you about a penny a gallon!
Use the Right Type of Motor Oil
Similar to tire pressure, you need to know the correct kind of motor oil your vehicle takes. Using the wrong type of motor oil can lower your gas mileage by 1-2% which costs you money.
Cars typically require a thin motor oil in the colder months and thicker in the hotter periods. You can find out what type of motor oil your car needs by reading the owner’s manual.
Combine All Your Errands
It takes a bit of effort to plan your trips to cut down on driving time, but that’s exactly what you need to do to save gas money.
Before you set off on your way, jot down a list and plan your route for maximum efficiency. If you can afford to wait, delay your trip a day or two if it means combining more trips could save you money down the road.
If you can join a carpool to work, it can save you some real money as well.
Many cities have work shuttle initiatives to get people in and out of downtown areas.
Don’t know what’s available in your area? Check the official website of your city or state’s transportation department.
Work at Home More
Another great way to cut back on gas money is to work from home more. If your job already allows a telework arrangement, that’s great but if not, here’s a template you can use to request a remote work situation.
Find Cheaper Gas Stations
Make a concerted effort to explore the gas prices in your area. If you find one just a little farther down the road that’s cheaper, don’t be afraid to switch it up.
Ride Public Transportation
If your job is relatively close to a bus or subway line, you might want to consider public transit as a way to save money.
Research seven-day or month-long passes to see if it makes financial sense for you to ride the bus or train to work.
Use Gas-Saving Apps
An easy way to find cheaper gas stations is to download a gas-saving app on your phone. Here are a few of the FREE gas apps out there:
“If you use an app like GasBuddy, you’re able to see right on your phone right near where you are the cheapest price for a gallon of gas,” Clark says.
Use GPS for Fuel-Efficient Routes
Of course, some cars these days have built-in navigation systems, but you can always use the GPS on your phone to map out more fuel-efficient routes.
Fuel Up on the Right Day
Depending on which day you fuel up, you may pay more at the pump. There can be a big difference between what you pay during the week as opposed to the weekend.
Want to know more about the best time to buy gas? Here are the cheapest days to fuel up your car.
Cut Down Your Idling Time
Do you let your car idle for a while before you take off? You may be wasting gas.
Newer engines simply don’t need as much idling time to warm up, if any, according to the Washington Post.
And Popular Mechanics says idling your car in the cold may actually do more harm than good.
Payment and Fuel Choices
Pay With Cash
Although contactless payments have grown in popularity, you may want to pay for your gas in cash.
Many gas station owners charge credit card users more per gallon to make up for fees to the card issuers and other charges associated with taking plastic.
Use the Right Credit Card
If you choose to swipe plastic at the pump, make sure you’re using a credit card with the best rewards.
For example, the Sam’s Club Mastercard offers 5% back on gas purchases (capped at $6,000 annually and excludes purchases at retailers like Costco). Even a simple 2% cash back card like the Citi Double Cash offers more rewards than using a debit card.
Important: Make sure you can use credit cards responsibly by paying your balance in full every month. Credit card rewards aren’t worth adding debt to your life.
Find Top Tier Gas
One way to save money is to use Top Tier gas. What is Top-Tier Gas? It refers to the gunk-reducing detergents added to fuel in order to make your engine burn cleaner.
If you don’t know where to get Top Tier gas, here is a list of stations.
Avoid Premium Fuel (Unless You Need It)
You may think putting premium fuel in your tank is a great way to baby your car, but experts say if it’s not specifically recommended by the manufacturer, it’s a waste of money.
The owner’s manual will tell you what kind of fuel is recommended for your vehicle. Your wallet may thank you.
Buy Gas From Kroger
If you have a Kroger grocery store in your area, take advantage of some gas savings by signing up for a Kroger Plus card. When you scan it at checkout, you can collect fuel points which can save you money.
Buy Gas From Costco
Your local Costco Wholesale may have gas cheaper than its competitors nearby.
One Team Clark member says his Costco has gas that is typically 30 cents below its nearest competitor.
Claim Gas Expenses on Your Car
If you own a business or are self-employed and use your vehicle for business, you may be able to deduct car expenses, including gas, on your tax return.
Of course, the Internal Revenue Service has strict rules about deductions, so you’ll need to do your homework to see if your individual situation qualifies.
Don’t Drive With Your Tank on Empty
You want to avoid driving around on a near-empty tank. A good rule of thumb is to never let your tank get below 1/4 full because it can cause extra wear and tear on your fuel pump.
Watch Your Speed
If you’ve got a lead foot, you may get to your destination faster, but it will burn more fuel.
The U.S. Department of Energy says aggressive driving wastes gas and can lower your gas mileage by 15% to 30%.
Turn Off Your Air Conditioner
One simple way to save gas is to turn off your air conditioner. Because it’s powered by your motor, operating your AC reduces the amount of gas in your car.
Don’t Buy a Gas Guzzler
Typically, larger vehicles are not as fuel-efficient as smaller cars. To save gas, you may opt to drive a vehicle that gives you better gas mileage thus saving you money.
Saving money at the pump isn’t hard to do, although it does take effort. Even if your vehicle is several years old, take out the owner’s manual and freshen up on what it says about your car’s fuel economy. The tips inside the manual may save you money.
And here’s a bonus tip: Resist the urge to “top off” your tank when you’re filling up. If your gas tank overflows, it can harm your car’s engine and lead to expensive repairs.
Do you have any gas-saving tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.