With proper care and maintenance, you can avoid spending a lot of money on your vehicle. However, there’s one thing we all got to spend money on whether we like it or not: gas.
Studies show that the average American driver spends $2,000 a year on gas for our cars. If you drive your car for 10 years, you could wind up spending more on gas than you did on the car itself! No one wants to spend more on fuel than they have to, and fortunately, there are many easy ways for drivers to cut their fuel costs down to size.
Below are five ways you can spend less at the pump in the long run.
- Get to the gas station before you’re empty.
Everyone who has owned a vehicle has driven it while their gas light is on. There’s no shame in this, but you don’t want to make a habit out of it either. Driving on a low tank can wind up damaging your fuel pump in the long run. While this isn’t necessarily related to how much you spend on gas, you don’t want to spend excess money on repairs either. To avoid this, try to fill your tank when your tank is about 25% full.
- Fill up your tank when you visit the gas station.
It’s tempting to only get the gas you need when you visit the pump. You want to stay within your weekly budget, so why blow more than you have to on gas? Unfortunately, when you only get $5 or $10 of gas at a time, you’re making a lot of extra visits to the gas station. And going out of your way to get gas winds up using more gas than you need to. Filling your tank when you can minimize your required gas stops, which lets you use all that gas for more important destinations instead.
- Don’t “top off” at the gas station.
Yes, you want to fill your tank whenever it's possible, but you also don’t want to go overboard with it. While you technically can keep pumping the handle after the gas pump comes to a stop, you’re doing your vehicle more harm than good. Contrary to what you might think, gas topping is counterintuitive because the gas in your tank needs some wiggle room to expand, so adding more in can not only cause spills, but it can open the door to harming your vehicle as well. As tempting as it is to get to a nice round dollar amount to pay, you should stop filling your tank when the pump tells you to.
- Don’t let your car idle.
Many people believe that you expend more fuel to turn your car on than you do to just leave it running for a few minutes. This is a myth. Studies show that you should turn off your car if you plan to stay in one spot for over 10 seconds. Additionally, modern cars don’t need to “warm-up” by idling in cold weather either. Though it’s tempting to keep that perfect interior climate for as long as possible, you’re better off turning your vehicle on and off when you actually need to drive it.
- Drive a car that is fuel-efficient.
All the previous tips are great ways for any driver to use less gas in the long run. But when push comes to shove, the best way to save gas is to drive a vehicle that uses less gas. The great news is that nearly all modern vehicles are more fuel-efficient than they’ve ever been. You don’t need an electric or a hybrid to average over 30 MPG on the highway. Even minivans and SUVs are exceeding 30 MPG these days. Sure, not every vehicle today is necessarily fuel-efficient, but if you haven’t shopped around for a new vehicle in a while, you might be amazed at what cars are capable of today.
If you’d like to cut your monthly fuel costs down to size, consider taking a look at a new vehicle this year. If you’re spending thousands on gas in your current car anyway, then maybe you’re better off upgrading your vehicle altogether.