Regardless of the price of fuel, money expert Clark Howard and Team Clark want to help you save money in the areas that impact your wallet the most. Whether you commute every day, plan long road trips or run regular errands, the price at the pump can run over your budget. Luckily, there are several ways to save money on gas.
Easy Ways To Save Money 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%, costing you money.
The Department of Energy also says to choose motor oil labeled as “Resource Conserving” on the API (American Petroleum Institute) performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.
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.
Here’s an example of a list I compiled for a busy day out of the house. Your version may be more or less the same.
|Location||Distance From Home|
|Home Improvement Store||3.5 Miles|
|Grocery Store||2 Miles|
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, read our template on how to request a remote work situation.
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 To 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.
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.
Pay With Cash
GasBuddy has a “Show Cash Prices” button you can toggle to see what fuel costs at gas stations in your area when you use greenbacks or pay via credit or debit card.
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.
Payment and Fuel Choices
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 gas 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.
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? Read our guide on 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. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use. Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked.”
Newer engines simply don’t need as much idling time to warm up, if any, according to the Washington Post.
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 that type of fuel, check out this list of gas stations with Top Tier gas.
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.
If you’ve got the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi credit card, you can save even more by getting 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases, including gas at Costco. The 4% cash back perk applies to the first $7,000 in gas purchases per year. After that, it drops to 1% cash back.
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% at highway speeds.
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.
Don’t ‘Top Off’ Yout Tank
And here’s one last 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.
Going for a spin can be a lot of fun, but not if you’re leaving a trail of money behind you. Just like being behind the wheel takes strategy and clear-headedness, being conscious about saving gas money takes the same effort.
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.
Do you have any money-saving gas tips to share? Let us know in our Clark.com Community.