Drivers across the U.S. have been dealing with record-high gas prices at the pump this year. But over the past month, amid declining demand, prices have finally begun to drop somewhat, giving drivers a bit of relief. The national average cost for a gallon of regular gas is down to $4.13, according to AAA. At the start of August, prices were down 63 cents over a month earlier.
Still, the damage has been done in many ways, as gas prices remain far higher than a year ago. AAA found that many drivers have made significant lifestyle changes to cope with higher gas costs, including driving less, combining errands and reducing shopping or dining out. Here are some additional ways to save money on the cost of gas.
5 ways to save money at the gas pump
To save fuel and spend less at the pump, consider making a few adjustments to your normal drive.
1. Drive the speed limit
No matter the fuel economy of your vehicle, driving within the speed limit will help conserve fuel. Your gas mileage will decrease if you drive over 50 mph. Along with driving the posted speed, it’s a good idea to avoid extreme acceleration or braking — which will also lead to low gas mileage.
2. Shop around for the cheapest options
Before pulling into the first gas station you pass, research the lowest-priced options in the area. You can download apps such as GasBuddy, Gas Guru and the AAA app to see where the lowest gas prices are near you.
3. Stick with regular gas options
Unless your vehicle requires premium gasoline, there is no need to dole out the extra cash for the top option. Sticking with regular gasoline will save you around 50 cents per gallon — a small number that can quickly add up.
4. Join a rewards program
Many grocery stores offer loyalty programs that reward drivers for filling up at their stations. Some credit cards also offer points when used at the pump. If a traditional gas station is more your style, look out for rewards options specific to the brands you favor — like the one 7-Eleven offers.
5. Map out routes ahead of time
To save money on gas and time in the car, use apps like Waze to take the most efficient route available. Also plan your route ahead of time to ensure you aren’t wasting any gasoline backtracking to different areas.
6. Maintain proper tire pressure
When your tires are under-inflated it can impact your vehicle’s gas mileage, reducing the fuel economy. Ensuring your vehicle’s tires are properly aligned can also improve gas mileage.
7. Use cruise control
Driving with cruise control can help you maintain a constant speed, which in turn will reduce the amount of gas used.
8. Reduce air conditioner use
Using the air conditioner drains gas more quickly because of the engine power required to operate the cooling system.
Other ways to save money on vehicle costs
While it’s true that the cost to power your car can be quite costly — especially now — the true cost of vehicle ownership is made up of many factors. And there are still other ways to save money as a driver.
Maintain your vehicle
Keeping up to date on the maintenance of your vehicle will help you to avoid any unforeseen problems. Try to get your vehicle checked by a professional a few times a year to avoid any costly problems bound to come up down the road.
Cut down on long trips
More miles clocked on your odometer means more trips to the gas station — but it also means more potential for mechanical problems. If you can avoid it, now might not be the best time for a long road trip. It could also be a good time to carpool or rely on public transportation where available.
Shop for cheaper insurance
If you have had the same insurance for more than a year or two, now might be a good time to shop around and see what other options are available. Be sure to compare quotes from multiple providers to ensure you are getting the best deal.
Refinance your current car loan
You may be able to secure better terms and save on your monthly payment by refinancing your car loan. This is especially true if you have improved your credit score. Compare your current rates with refinanced terms to see if you can save more money by refinancing.
Gas price volatility is due to a combination of factors
Even as prices have declined, the average cost for a gallon of gas remains $1 more expensive than a year ago. And in many places, the cost for a gallon of gas is still well over $4, while California residents continue to pay more than $5.50 per gallon.
The high prices the nation is still facing are due in part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting sanctions. These sanctions have led to a dramatic rise in the cost of crude oil, which serves as a primary ingredient to power many vehicles. As the price of crude oil rises, so do prices at the gas pump.
The bottom line
When it comes to vehicle ownership, costs can add up — and the fluctuating price tag attached to the gas pump can cause a great deal of frustration. While gas prices are outside of your control, focus on the choices you can make to save. Some of the changes you can make include shopping around for the lowest gas prices in your area, combining your errands and trips when possible and keeping your vehicle properly maintained.