Top 10 hacks to ease the pain at the pump
For those of us who haven’t shifted to an electric vehicle, the monthly expense of filling up the tank has hit hard. This month, gas prices reached all-time highs, surging about 50 percent over the past year, according to government data. The price per barrel of crude oil could hit $150 according to some analysts.
While high prices are out of our control, there are choices we can make to help reduce the financial impact of expensive gas.
Drive consistently, not aggressively.
Apply cost-efficient driving habits like driving the speed limit, accelerating slowly and coasting more to increase fuel efficiency by up to 40 percent. Avoid accelerating to red lights and braking hard, as your fuel efficiency decreases significantly with aggressive driving.
Reduce air conditioning use.
If you’re in Arizona, you might be chuckling given the 115-degree temperatures. But air conditioning is one of the top gas guzzlers and can reduce fuel efficiency by around 25 percent. Try to drive early or later in the day, and shift between air conditioning and the fan. Most systems cool faster when driving so don’t idle while blasting the AC to cool off the car first.
Maintain a regular oil change schedule.
Sticking to the manufacturer’s recommended oil change schedule as well as the oil type can improve fuel economy. Having too much or too little oil, or even the wrong type, can impact how efficiently the engine runs.
Check your tires for proper inflation.
Check tire pressure once per month. Some experts say that for every 1 pound-force per square inch your tires are underinflated, you lose 0.2 percent fuel economy. This does not sound like much, but underinflated tires can cost you several cents per gallon of gas. Also, worn tires can be harder on your gas mileage.
Do high gas prices have you rethinking your ride? Check out our blog to decide if buying a new or used car is right for you!
Group errands together.
Avoid doing one-off errands and plan to combine trips. This takes some pre-planning, but you’ll save not only money but time. If you’re a commuter to work, look into company carpool options. Consider riding a bike or electric scooter, or even walking if your stops aren’t too far.
Remove excess weight.
Some of us use the trunk as a mini storage for sporting equipment, extra shoes or clothing, or even large bins to organize groceries. Fuel efficiency drops 1 percent for every 100 pounds of excess weight. Consider removing these items and storage racks from the top or back of the car for bikes, as they weigh the car down.
Research gas prices.
There can be large differences in prices from station to station. You might choose to check GasBuddy’s price map or Fuel Finder to keep track of gas prices. It may be possible to get better deals at stations that are not on major roads or highways. If you don’t have to drive too far out of the way to get that lower price, then it’s worth it.
Don’t top it off.
It may be tempting to round out your purchase price by topping off your fill-up, but this increases the possibility of evaporation or splashing. Stop pumping at the first click. Also, secure the gas cap afterward, as missing or damaged caps cause gas, and your cash, to evaporate.
Fill up on the “cheaper” days and times.
Gas prices fluctuate and some apps that track real-time gas prices insist the cheapest day of the week to fill up is often Monday. Fill up early in the day too. Some experts say that station owners hike prices after 9am, after checking the competition. Today’s volatility may challenge this, but keep an eye out for current trends.
Use loyalty programs.
Take advantage of grocery store loyalty rewards programs. Several chains, like Costco and Kroger, offer members a discount of around ten cents per gallon. You might check out credit cards that offer cash back on gas. Chase and American Express offer up to 5 percent back on gas purchases. You may also take advantage of a gift card discount, such as purchasing a $100 card for $90.
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Bayntree does not provide specific legal or tax advice. Please consult with your tax advisor or legal professional for guidance with your individual situation.