Lately, every time you go to fill up your gas tank, you’re spending more and more. Right now, the national average is $4.225 per gallon of gas, and across the United States, people are paying record highs to fuel up.
No matter how much you budget, it's hard to take the sting out of filling your tank when prices grow fast while your paycheck stays the same.
By learning about how to save money on gas, you can make it a little less painful every time you head to the pump.
The prices of gas seem to be fluctuating all of the time—but, why? And, why is it so expensive now?
Before 1960, a country or organization had the power to control the price of crude oil, the largest factor in determining gas prices.
Then, OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, was created to protect Mideast oil-producing countries.
OPEC, as well as OPEC+, utilize supply quotas to get the highest long-term prices of crude oil for their 13 members, including Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
Each member gets a vote, and they all need to unanimously agree on oil production decisions.
Technically, OPEC doesn’t set prices, but it does manipulate the free market by determining the amount of oil its member countries can produce.
Other factors that control the price of gas are the refining costs and profits, supply and demand, local, state and federal taxes, marketing and distribution costs, and a reasonable profit margin for the suppliers.
Current events, like the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, can also impact the prices.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 lockdowns were happening and nobody was buying gas, prices were very low.
But as the vaccines became available, people started going out again, which made the demand shoot up, along with the prices.
Get up to $500* to refuel your bank account.
When you go to the gas station, you can find ways to save. For instance, prices can be cheaper when you pay with cash as opposed to a debit or credit card.
However, if you have a credit card where you get fuel rewards or cash back when spending at the pump, then it could be worth it to use your card.
Gas stations like Circle K and Shell, as well as grocery stores like Kroger, also offer rewards programs where you build up points every time you make a purchase and then save on gas.
Additionally, Sam’s Club, Costco and other wholesale clubs typically offer some of the cheapest gas available.
Pro Tip: When you fill up, buy regular gas instead of premium gas, if your car allows for it. Also, make sure your gas cap is on tight to stop any leakage from occurring.
Aside from seeking out cheaper gas near you, you can figure out how to save money on gas in other ways.
Consider investing in an electric vehicle, like a Tesla or Nissan Leaf, so that you pay for electricity to power your car instead of gas.
You could also try a hybrid vehicle if you’re getting a new car or simply get a car with better gas mileage.
Hybrid vehicles have a high fuel economy of 48 to 60 mpg. If you have a large car like an SUV—which takes a lot of gas—think about switching to a smaller one, if feasible.
Make sure you regularly take your car to the mechanic to ensure it’s operating well and at peak efficiency. When you get an oil change, don’t use cheap motor oil and make sure to carefully track your tire pressure.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every 1psi missing from your car's set of four tires, you’ll lose 0.1% of your gas mileage. In other words, make sure your tire pressure is correct by determining the recommended pressure for your vehicle.
Typically, there will be a sticker on the door of your car with this information on it. You should also be able to find it in the owner’s manual.
If you have things in your car that are weighing it down, take them out.
You may not need to have your bike rack on your car all of the time, for example.
Instead, put it on the car only when you need to use it.
If you live in a cold place or it’s the wintertime, don’t warm up your engine for more than 30 seconds because any longer is just a waste of gas.
Air conditioning can also drain your gas. However, there is a caveat.
Turning on your air conditioner is actually more fuel-efficient when you’re driving at highway speeds, so only turn it off when you aren’t going fast.
Put cruise control on when you’re driving on the highway. You can also carpool to school or work and use Waze or Google Maps to avoid driving in traffic.
Keep in mind that the faster you drive, the more fuel you will burn, so drive at normal speeds when you’re on the road.
Accelerate gently when you need to, and don’t brake hard unless there is an emergency.
Walk and bike to places if you can, use public transportation, and avoid running errands when there’s a lot of traffic.
Moreover, if you can request to work from home to avoid a long commute—even a couple of days a week—you can easily save money on gas.
There are apps you can put on your phone to see the cheapest gas prices near you.
You can save money on gas if you do your due diligence by searching for cheaper gas prices, investing in the right vehicle, adjusting your driving habits, and using apps that will give you the right information.
Then when you go to the pump, you won’t have to worry so much about the expense to fuel up.