Oil and gas prices are near a six year low. Consumers are reaping the benefits of cheap oil thanks to huge savings at gas stations across the country.
To the savvy consumer cheap gas prices are just the beginning. Here are 15 tips for making the most of cheap gas and multiplying your savings!
1. Slow and steady wins the race
It can be tempting to put the pedal to the metal to try to beat the busy commute. Unfortunately driving like a Formula 1 driver is going to cost you. Drivers who slow down when approaching a red light and ease onto the gas at a green light can get 35% better fuel mileage. Avoid hard stops and remember that it is much more efficient to accelerate an already rolling car than from a dead stop. And please, go the speed limit for your own safety and for greater efficiency.
So if you’ve got a lead foot you might want to consider the advantages of taking your time. Besides, your fellow drivers – not to mention your passengers – might appreciate a slower, smoother ride!
2. Is your car in good shape?
A regular tune up can go a long way to making sure that your car is efficient and safe. An oil change (with the manufacturer recommended grade oil), replacing spark plugs and other seemingly minor issues can save your engine a great deal of mileage.
Misaligned tires, worn suspension, bent wheels and other body issues can affect your car’s efficiency. A clogged air filter can be one of the worst culprits for reducing fuel efficiency.
3. How about your tires?
Tires are often ignored by car owners. Under-inflated tires will not only cost you mileage but can also reduce your cars handling and braking.
4. Time your fill ups
Unless you find a real bargain don’t fill your car up until it is near empty. A full tank is a heavy tank and will require more fuel to haul it. Try to avoid filling up on weekends or near holidays as prices might rise due to greater demand.
5. Avoid rush hour
Try to avoid rush hour. Get to work earlier and beat the rush. Time your trips to avoid traffic. No one likes sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. Give your nerves and your credit card a deserved break.
6. Watch where you fill up
When you do finally have to fill up you might want to avoid gas stations right off the highway – their prices are often higher. Having said that, unless you know exactly where another gas station is just settle for what you can get – burning fuel driving around comparing prices will likely offset any savings you might find.
7. Don’t idle
It can be hard to avoid in the cold winter but try to limit the amount of time you spend idling in your car. Some motorists go so far as to shut their vehicles off at long red lights or when waiting at a railroad crossing. Drive-throughs restaurants and ATM’s are also great places to switch off your engine, especially if you’re going to be there for a few minutes. They say idle hands are the Devils plaything but idling cars are just bad for business!
8. Premium gas isn’t a necessity
This can be a contentious point but for many cars there is really no discernable advantage to opting for premium gas. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations and talk to your mechanic but unless you hear otherwise, save yourself a bit of money and fill up with regular.
Some credit cards are partnered with certain gas stations and offer savings or points for gas purchases. Many gas stations also offer their own reward cards. You have to fill up anyway so you may as well try and get something in return.
10. Know where you are going
In this day and age it is easy to go online or check your phone or GPS for directions. Have a look at your route before hand and make note of parking or drop off locations. Having a clear plan will save you the frustration and inefficiency of driving in circles looking for your destination! Also, if possible avoid driving on dirt, gravel or snowy roads. Take into account traffic and stops lights when estimating your time.
11. Have someone else drive for you
If you need a product but aren’t in a rush, try to find it online. Many stores now offer free delivery. Driving for an hour to pick up the latest gadget isn’t really worth it if you are willing to wait a couple days.
12. Plan your trips
Don’t run errands one at a time. Make a list and plan your route. One trip is better than 3-4 even if it takes you a bit longer.
13. Slim down your car
There is no need to haul around all of your worldly belongings every time you pop over to the supermarket. Clean out your car, it could save you some serious cash. Ski racks are great when you need them but they also increase drag, take them off to be more aerodynamic. If you drive a pickup then drop the tailgate. Airflow can be great but to save gas close the sunroof.
14. Technology is you friend
Use your phone, tablet or computer to look up where the cheapest gas in your area is. Buy second-hand gas station gift cards for less than the face value online. A quick google search should bring you to a number of sites. Picking up a $50 gift card for less than the face value is about as close to free gas as you can get.
15. Ditch the car
Of course the easiest way to save on gas is to ditch the car altogether. Carpool, take public transit, walk or ride a bike!
Cheap gas won’t last forever, make the most of your savings
But while it does you might as well maximise your savings. Instead of watching your money go up in smoke (or should we say exhaust) set it aside. Buy something for yourself or someone you love or create a small investment fund. Make your money work for you and who knows maybe you’ll be able to buy a new (greener) car!