Don’t spend a dollar to save a nickel on gasoline


WWith the price of gasoline soaring, it’s not uncommon to hear people say, “I really have to buy a hybrid.

If your goal is to save money, it could be a dire decision, unless you need a new car anyway. While you could save money at the pump, the cost of switching from a gas pump to a gas pump prematurely would take years to pay off.

Why? You’re probably paying about $ 1 more per gallon for gasoline than a year ago. In a 25 mpg vehicle driving an average annual mileage of 14,000, that would be $ 560 out of your pocket – enough to hurt.

But the average price paid for new cars has increased 10 times that amount in the past year alone, topping $ 46,000 in October, according to Kelley Blue Book. Proportionately, used car prices are even higher than that.

This is about the worst possible time to buy a car, unless you absolutely have to. If your vehicle has been stolen or destroyed, consider a more fuel efficient replacement.

But if not, remember that gas prices go up and down quickly; there are adjustment methods which do not require the commitment of 72 monthly payments. Instead of changing cars, the key to saving money is quite simple: buy gas wisely (using a gasoline pricing app), maintain your car, and improve your driving style.

Note that I didn’t say “drive slower”. It is possible to increase your fuel mileage and not become an annoying turtle on the freeway.

Buy smarter and cheaper

Choose regular rather than premium. Start your savings strategy by purchasing the good gas quality. While your car’s owner’s manual may recommend that you use the premium, it is safe to upgrade to mid-grade or even regular grade. “The modest improvements in fuel economy seen in AAA tests do not offset the higher cost of premium gasoline,” reports the American Automobile Association.

Compare prices with a gas application. The price of gasoline varies considerably from station to station and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Instead of shopping around for the best gasoline price, use a gas application like GasBuddy to find the cheapest place to refuel.

But don’t drive 10 miles through town to save a dime on gas. While a gasoline app will show you the cheapest gasoline in your area, make sure the savings can wipe out the extra fuel consumed to get to that cheaper station.

Use gas cards and trading clubs. Some credit cards will give you a discount when you buy gasoline. Combine that with the reduced price of gasoline at shopping clubs, such as Costco, and the savings are substantial.

Maintenance and modifications

In addition to a modest increase in fuel economy, the following maintenance tips have additional benefits. Your car will last longer and you will drive more carefully.

Perform scheduled maintenance. In most cases, this requires oil and filter changes and tire rotations. You should also change your air filter periodically. It’s cheap and you can even do it yourself.

Monitor the tire pressure. Keeping your tires filled to the manufacturer’s specifications will save fuel, reduce tire wear, and provide better handling.

Remove underused accessories. According to the AAA, roof racks and special brackets cause aerodynamic drag on the highway, reducing fuel economy. If you don’t use them, lose them.

Skip the gadgets. That miracle device that increases gas mileage to 200 mpg? There is no such thing. Consumer Reports has already tested three of these fuel savers and found no change in fuel economy. In one case, the performance was actually reduced. Their takeaway: “The best way to get the best mileage out of a gas tank is to follow the automaker’s maintenance schedule and fine tune your driving habits. “

Refine your driving

Fine-tuning your driving style, especially if you have a larger vehicle, can big savings at the pump. There are many benefits waiting for you if you open your mind and try something new.

Avoid aggressive driving. The biggest waste of gas is unnecessarily aggressive acceleration combined with hard braking. This can reduce your gas mileage by up to 30%, according to Fueleconomy.gov. Instead, accelerate moderately (unless you need to suddenly merge) and lower the throttle when you see a red light in the distance.

Stop prolonged idling. If you plan to stop for more than 60 seconds, the AAA says to stop the engine to save fuel. Many newer cars are already equipped with an automatic start and stop function.

Drive the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases at speeds above 50 miles per hour. For every 5 mph that you drive over 50 mph, you are paying the equivalent of $ 0.18 more per gallon of gasoline. So if you reduce your speed by 5-10 mph, you can improve your fuel economy by up to 14%, according to the US Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Use cruise control. By driving at a constant speed, you avoid wasting gasoline with mid-throttle acceleration. A brisk pace is also more relaxing and a good reminder to drive at or near the speed limit.

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Philip Reed writes for NerdWallet. Email: articles@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @AutoReed.

The article Don’t Spend a Dollar to Save a Nickel on Gas originally appeared on NerdWallet.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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