Your car payments and auto insurance payments may stay the same each month but gas prices can fluctuate wildly during the same period. Gas prices differ by state, by city, by season and by gas station, just to name a few variables, but consumers who shop wisely can trim their monthly car expenses.
These easy tips can help you find the best gas prices and save money:
Figure out what you’re currently spending on gas
The first step to finding cheap gas is to track what you’re currently paying to create a baseline. For example, if you traditionally get gas at the same station because it’s convenient, your habit may be costing you extra money.
Start looking at gas prices when you drive by different stations so you can see the variations. Notice whether the prices change on weekends versus weekdays, and which brands have higher costs than others.
Download a gas app
Many people like to use gas apps on their phones, especially when on vacation in unfamiliar areas. The apps may let you plug in your zip code, or it can automatically find your location using GPS tracking. These apps show gas stations nearby and their prices, as entered by other app users. Some will also show the average gas prices for the state or city. To find the best gas app, check your phone’s app store and look at reviews.
Try different locations
Gas stations often charge more if they’re in a prime location, like close to a freeway exit or at a major intersection. People will pay more for that convenience, especially if they don’t know the area. If you can wait, it’s easier to find cheap gas farther away from a main drag.
Only get premium gas if your car needs it
You may think getting premium gas will improve engine performance, but that’s not necessarily the case for all cars. In fact, some higher performance cars actually do just fine with regular gas. Learn more about whether premium gas is right for your car, so you aren’t wasting money with no return.
Pay with cash
Some stations offer a discount for cash versus paying with a credit card. Over time, this can add up. It can be worthwhile to keep extra cash on hand for gas purchases to pay the best gas prices.
Use a station loyalty credit card
Some gas stations offer loyalty credit cards, giving you a discount on gas prices when using that card. If you tend to shop for gas at the same station frequently, it might be worthwhile to use a loyalty card. Consider if you have to pay a yearly fee for the card and the interest rate if you don’t pay your credit card off in full each month.
Don’t waste gas
Leaving an engine running while you’re parked is high on the list of unnecessary gas-guzzling habits. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing so “only for a couple minutes while a friend runs into the store.” You’re still wasting fuel – and more of it than you may think.
Properly inflate your tires
Proper tire inflation translates to money in the bank – accounting for as much as a 3% improvement in mileage performance, according to the Department of Energy. With more pressure in your tires, the easier it will be to drive, which will result in less friction.
Don’t put the pedal to the metal
If you’re an aggressive driver, you risk getting hit with stiff fines and insurance premiums. But did you know that you’re also wasting gas? Sudden, rapid acceleration and braking can lower highway gas mileage by 33% and city mileage by 5%, research shows.
Shopping smartly for gas can help you spend less on your car. Finding the right auto insurance policy can also save you money – especially if you qualify for a car insurance discount.