20 Tips To Save Money On Gas

Drivers are monitoring gas stations and consulting websites to find the lowest available gas prices in their area.  Canadians will drive a few extra blocks, or even several kilometers, out of their way to save money on gas, even if it’s just a few tenths of a cent per litre.

Related: 35 Ways To Save Money

It seems there are few things more satisfying than buying a tank-full of cheaper gas.

Save Money On Gas

With gasoline prices over $1 a litre, it’s time to review some ways to save money at the pumps.  Here are 20 tips to save money on gas:

Driving habits

  • Ease off that lead foot.  Rapid acceleration from red lights and hard breaking increases fuel consumption by 37% – not to mention the five-fold increase in toxic emissions.

A car consumes the most gas as it accelerates.  Keep your ride smooth.  Keeping a little more distance from the car ahead of you allows you to hold your speed steady without having to step on the brake all the time (unless everything slows down).

Related: How To Save Money By Going Green

  • Don’t idle excessively.  I know we all like to get into a warm vehicle on a cold day, but excessive idling wastes a lot of gas – and can be hard on your engine as well.

Experts say that if you are going to be stopped for more than 10 seconds (except in traffic) turn off the engine.

Driving around town

  • Plan and combine your trips.  Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance.
  • Pick a better route.  Avoid heavy traffic and lots of traffic lights.  The shortest route is not always the most fuel efficient if you have to stop all the time.
  • When commuting to work stagger your work hours to avoid peak rush (or better yet, telecommute) if your employer permits it.
  • Reduce weight.  Empty out the trunk by removing heavy items you don’t need – golf clubs, etc.  This affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
  • Reduce drag.  Why are you driving around with that full ski/bike/luggage rack on your roof if you don’t need it?  Loaded roof racks decrease fuel efficiency by 5%.  Place items in the trunk whenever possible – but only when you need them.

Travel

  • Slow down on the highway.  The speed limit on most Canadian highways is 100 – 110 kph.  Motorists who keep to that speed find that they are passed by most of the traffic – but they will have better gas mileage.  It takes 20% more fuel to go the same distance at 120 kph than it does at 100 kph.
  • Use your cruise control (sometimes).  On the flat prairies, using your cruise control will save an average of 7%.  However, on hilly terrain it’s more fuel efficient to let your speed drop going uphill and build it up again going down the other side.
  • The first gas station you encounter after a long stretch is almost never the cheapest – everyone pulls over to full up as soon as they can.  If possible, drive a little further to find a cheaper station.
  • Are we there yet?  Getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas.  Plan your route.

Don’t skimp on car maintenance

The days of back-yard mechanics are long gone.  Newer vehicles are so complex that most repairs and adjustments are better left to those who are trained.

Related: How Often Should You Service Your Vehicle?

Often the only time a driver takes his or her vehicle in for service is when the “check engine” light comes on.  You should check your manual for the recommended service.

  • Keep your engine properly tuned.
  • Use the correct grade of motor oil.  The wrong grade may increase friction in your engine – it gets hotter and uses more gas.  Change the oil at the recommended times.
  • Keep tires properly inflated.  Proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker on your driver’s side doorjamb.  Check your tire pressure regularly, especially after a sharp drop in temperature.  Each tire that is under inflated by 2 lbs per square inch causes a 1% increase in fuel consumption.
  • Don’t drive around all summer with snow tires on.

Drive less

  • Walk or bike.  It’s good for your wallet and your health.
  • Use public transit if convenient.
  • Car pool.  Not only will this save money depending on how many are in the car, there are other advantages too.  Conversation keeps drivers alert.  In areas with HOV or car pool lanes they won’t spend as much time in traffic idling, get better gas mileage – plus get home sooner.

Drive a fuel-efficient car

If you are in the market for a new car, consider fuel efficiency.  Even if you don’t want a hybrid or electric car go for the smallest version of the vehicle you are considering.

Related: What You Need To Know Before Buying A New Car

Most people who drive 8 cylinder, all-wheel drive, off-road vehicles rarely do more than commute a few kilometers to work or shop – on well-paved roads.

Be wary of gasoline saving devices

When gas prices rise consumers often look for ways to improve fuel efficiency.  Many companies will try to sell you mileage-improving devices and fuel additives.

Some claim that they will save you 10 – 50%.  Be very skeptical of these claims and consumer testimonials.  None have been proven to effectively save money on gas.

In conclusion

We probably will never see really cheap gas ever again (even in Alberta).  By changing your driving habits you can improve your fuel economy by up to 37%.

If you are willing to change, you’ll find many related benefits too – no speeding tickets, greater safety, lower repair bills.

Combine several tips and perform routine vehicle maintenance and, in the long run, you will get considerable savings.


16 Responses to 20 Tips To Save Money On Gas

  1. >>>>Most people who drive 8 cylinder, all-wheel drive, off-road vehicles rarely do more than commute a few kilometers to work or shop – on well-paved roads.

    If you need a vehicle like that even once a month, then you’re basically stuck with it for the other 29 days/ month that you don’t need it. I like driving small cars, but can’t because I need a full size pickup for our hobbies and activities.

    The other consideration is ‘size’ insurance. Basically the gasoline premium you’re paying on driving a large vehicle can be considered an insurance tax for driving a safer vehicle (or at least a vehicle that is going to come out of an accident better off). If you’re kid is in a head on collision, do you want them in the Yaris or the full size Ford F150? Well, having them in the pickup is going to cost you $150/month more in gas. Would you pay $150/month for the additional protection of having a large vehicle, or would you save the $150 and take a larger risk in case of an accident? (assuming that you agree that a larger vehicle is safer in a crash).

    • Boomer says:

      @LifeInsuranceCanada: I’m hardly going to buy a Hummer for the sole reason that it may save my life if I got into an accident. Changing bad driving habits will reduce accidents a lot more than bigger vehicles. Drivers should get back to learning defensive driving, obeying traffic laws and paying attention to what’s going on around them instead of the latest tweet on their phones. This would be safer than the current yahoos in their jacked-up Ford F350′s speeding down the road at 160 kmh, tailgating and passing aggressively. I’ve seen plenty of full size SUVs tail up in the ditch.

      Car manufacturers have improved safety considerably in their late models. I’m not suggesting everyone needs to drive a Smart Car, just buy what’s suitable for your needs – otherwise you’re wasting your money.

      • Last year I was talking with a guy who’s son got into an accident driving a f/s pickup, with someone in a compact. The compact, totalled. The pickup needed a bumper.

        That’s good enough for my kids, and a bit of gas. I’ll conserve, but not at the cost of my family.

        >>>>This would be safer than the current yahoos in their jacked-up Ford F350′s speeding down the road at 160 kmh,

        That’s a minimum, misleading. Driving a fullsize pickup does not imply bad or aggressive driving habits, though the opposite might be true. Drive through toronto and look at who’s driving aggressively. It’s not the pickups. It’s the little cars.

        It’s fine with me if everyone else on the road wants to drive small cars. If everyone started driving big cars, I’d lose the advantage.

        As I noted, for me it’s pretty simple. I decided I’d pay extra on gas for the additional insurance of having a size advantage. Thank goodness I’ve never had to use it yet.

  2. How about paying with cash? Gas stations in my area offer a four percent discount for cash purchases. The station avoids the credit card interchange fee, and passes the savings on to motorists.

    My bank ATM is a few hundred yards away from the local gas station.

    • Boomer says:

      @Kevin: This is new to me. I usually pay cash when I gas up and I have never received any kind of discount. I guess I don’t live in the right area.

    • Ben says:

      Many credit cards offer high cash back rates on gas purchases… often 2% some as high as 5% although that’s only for 6 months.

  3. My car actually has an Eco mode that changes the way that my car drives over time based on my driving habits. It will accelerate slower and use less RPM’s when it knows that it can. Without it on, my car gets about 25mpg, but with it engaged, I get near 32mpg. Big difference.

  4. Oh! is that what the eco light does? I thought when it came on, that it meant you were driving like a granny and time to get the lead out :).

    • And more seriously, our full sized pickup actually has that eco light. And when we drive it reasonably carefully the gas milage isn’t that much different than our wagon. Full sized pickups actually get reasonably good gas mileage these days (though not excellent, they’re still big vehicles).

  5. James says:

    We had a brief price drop in gas around Christmas time (it miraculously got below $3.00 per gallon) but it was short lived. Now we are up back up to around $3.50. I remember the days when . . . . (don’t we all). Anyhow, great list. I should try some of these tips out and see how much of a difference it will make with my driving habits. Also, the new (used) van we purchased has an ecomode button (great feature). We were told that it was to be used only for highway driving. NOT in town (apparently it will tear up the transmission). We can tell when it is engaged because it slams into 3rd gear, skipping 2nd completely. Just a heads up, check your manual or check with the dealer if you want to be sure your not damaging something by using your eco button constantly.

  6. Thanks for the tips, all practical that when used in conjunction with others can do a lot to save people money. And I have to say, all of them are better than my father-in-law’s idea of driving 45 minutes out of town to get “the best deal.”

  7. I would save a lot of money on gas if I didn’t share my car with a poor 21 year old student who likes to drive to a nutrition store to waste money on protein powder.

    He says he puts gas in it but it never seems to come out to the amount he drives.

  8. CF says:

    We never worry about gas anymore :D With the car-sharing programs that we use (Modo, Car2Go), the cost of gas is included in your hourly/per minute rate. We spend around $175 in car-usage costs per month and we don’t have to spend ANY money on insurance, gas or maintenance.

  9. Jerry says:

    We got rid of one of our cars which meant less everything, less insurance, less gas, etc. It wasn’t easy and took some adjusting but it leads to being creative about getting around and planning well.

  10. Under the car maintenance section also be sure to replace the air filter periodically. Reduced air intake will also negatively affect gas mileage. Great article with lots of helpful tips.

  11. fraser says:

    We live in Calgary. We belong to Calgary Co-op. We use their full service gas stations. The pump price is competitive but we get a 3 cent a litre coupon to use at the grocery store. Each year we get an additional rebate based the distribution of Co-Op profits.

    For the past two years we have enjoyed a 6 cent rebate on each litre of gas that we purchased during the year.

    It works out to a 9 cent a litre savings.

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