14 Ways to Save on Gas Costs For This Summer

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Summer means travel, and all those cars, trucks, SUVs, cargo haulers, and other vehicles on the road plow through gasoline like water. In 2021, Americans spent an average of $2,148 on gasoline, and with inflation hitting in 2022, that number has only risen. 

Thankfully, the summer months this year are bringing a bit of relief at the pump for travel-weary road warriors. Gas Buddy reports that the average price of gas is holding at $3.50 per gallon, down 14 cents from May 2024. 

Don’t hold your breath on sagging gas prices, however, as the Atlantic Hurricane Season started June 1st, and predictions are that it will be a very active six months. While hurricanes don’t usually affect gasoline deliveries and prices, a major storm could disrupt the affected region if the damage is extensive. Either way, finding good ways to save on gas is always worthwhile, so we’ve curated our top selections on how to get the most bang for your buck the next time you fill up. 

1. Declutter the Junk

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Over the years, car manufacturers have worked to create light and aerodynamic vehicles to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. When you pack your car full and add excess weight that you drag everywhere, you undo all the benefits of that aerodynamic design and lightweight frame. 

If you want to save on gas this summer, only carry in your car what you absolutely need. Don’t remove the emergency kit from your trunk, but the box of your ex’s clothes can sit on the curb, or better yet, donate it. 

2. Remove the Travel Rack

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I’ll admit that I didn’t know the rack on the top of your SUV could come off. I’ve never used a luggage rack before, which would explain my ignorance. However, if you want to reduce the drag on your vehicle, take that travel rack off if you’re not using it.

Its presence breaks up how air travels over your car, increasing drag and creating a gas-guzzling environment that eats away at your vehicle’s fuel economy. Try taking it off for a few weeks and see if you don’t save a bit over the summer months. 

3. Drive Less to Save

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One easy way to save on gas is to combine your trips into one longer trip. It will take some planning, knowing where to stop first, and saving the grocery haul for last. However, if you can work to combine your trips and spend a little bit more time away from home, you can save considerably by doing so. 

Driving less will also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle’s engine and tires. Combining your stops into one longer trip can increase your overall fuel economy and make for fewer stops at the gas station. This benefit can also reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment. 

4. Don’t Sit Still

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Sitting still while your car runs is a surefire way to waste gas. Instead of leaving people or pets in your car with it running to keep the air conditioning system going, leave your pets at home and take the people with you. 

If you need a metric to go by, the average American will waste half a gallon of gas for every hour your car sits still. If you often get caught in traffic, turn your car off if you sit still for more than a few minutes. It may seem annoying to turn your car off and then on again, but the cost savings will be worth it. 

5. Drive Slower

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When I was in high school, my English teacher used to advise us to drive slower. He claimed he kept his speed at a slower 45 miles per hour and always left early to make it to work on time. 

Driving slower will help you save fuel because you waste the most gas by accelerating. When you press down on your gas pedal, you push fuel into the injectors in your engine that, in turn, pump the pistons harder, accelerating your speed so you move faster. Increased speed leads to more drag on your aerodynamics, exponentially increasing as you accelerate. 

This initial burst of speed bleeds through your fuel more than any other driving activity. By driving slower, you decrease your rate of acceleration and save yourself some green at the pump. 

6. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated

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Before computers, people often checked their tires to ensure they held the proper air. An insufficiently inflated tire will cause more contact with the road surface, creating—you guessed it—drag. This lack of air reduces your gas mileage, costing you every time you buy gas. When computers became commonplace in newer model cars, they came with a handy little light to alert drivers to the air pressure needs of their tires.

All drag is created equal, so it pulls your car down, forcing you to accelerate more to reach the same speed. Don’t wait for the light in your dashboard or steering wheel to tell you your tires are low on air. Check them often to ensure you have properly inflated tires.

7. Gas Savvy Savery

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Apps are a constant part of our lives, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a couple that helps you save when you fill up. Some will get you savings on your first fill-up and then accrue savings over your next ten gas purchases. Others offer a flat rate based on your fuel needs. However you like to save, there’s an app that’ll help you out. 

Since 2022, gas savings apps have exploded in popularity to help people save at the pump. As inflation climbed, gas was one of the first products to skyrocket as crude oil prices quickly escalated. With this price jump, gas-saving apps became essential to helping people stretch their already strapped paychecks. 

8. Use Cruise Control

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Cruise control is that lovely future that allows your car to lock in a specific speed and steadily move along at that same speed. This steady speed increases your fuel economy because you’re not constantly moving the speedometer up and down. 

Use cruise control on long stretches of road where you can minimize your stops for some time. Highways, for instance, are an excellent option for boosting your fuel savings with cruise control. 

9. Be Choosy About Air Conditioning

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Air conditioning reduces fuel expenditure by 25%. However, rolling down your windows increases wind resistance, which also reduces gas usage. 

To combat this conflict, roll your windows down in town when you might sit idle more often. On the highway or when you’re moving along as a nice clip, keep the a/c running. 

10. Rewards Programs

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Much like gas-saving apps, some retail and grocery chains offer rewards programs that offer gas stipends. You simply shop as you usually would and rack up reward points. Then, when you’ve accumulated enough points, you can redeem them at participating gas stations for a nice discount on gas. 

Some retailers will have a minimum number of gallons you need to purchase, while others will have a set amount you can earn off each gallon you buy. Whatever the perk, these types of rewards are a great way to save at the pump. 

11. Bypass Highway Gas Stations

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Because they are usually few and far between, highway gas stations can run higher prices for gas than their “in-town” competitors. However, if you’re traveling, try to stop at the in-town stores because their prices will align with the national average. 

Highway stations have fewer competitors, so they often jack prices to wrangle as much profit as possible. Driving just a bit further, you can save money on your non-gas purchases and fuel. Also, you’ll support the local community more efficiently. 

12. Choose a Staycation

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Staycations are a great way to balance a nice getaway with fuel economy. You still get to enjoy some downtime, some “me” time. However, you’ll also save on gas because you won’t be taking that long road trip. 

By staying closer to home, you can maximize the best of both worlds, getting fun and quality time away from your usual grind and saving on your gas output. It truly is the best win-win you can hope for. 

13. Be a Good Driver

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Being a good driver has several benefits. First, you’re likely to avoid getting into an accident or getting a ticket. Second, you can save some serious cash on fuel. A slow, steady pace and controlled driving manner will help your vehicle maintain a normal fuel flow into your engine. 

Another aspect of being a good driver is utilizing your cruise control, as we mentioned above, and minimizing your stops. Keeping your car off as often as possible is another great way to lower fuel needs in traffic while sitting for long periods at red lights or overcrowded four-way stops. 

14. Maintain Your Vehicle

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This advice is tricky because it can cost you some serious cash. However, keeping your vehicle well-maintained (oil changes, tire rotations, transmission fluid checks, etc.) can definitely help your fuel usage. 

When your vehicle needs maintenance, it begins to chip away at its fuel economy to try to give you the speed and maneuvering you expect. To do this, it uses more fuel, costing you more precious dollars at the pump. Spend a little cash to maintain your vehicle and get a lot of fuel rewards on the back end. 

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