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How to Save Money on Gas

Person holding a gas pump handle
If you do a fair amount of driving each week, you’re likely paying a substantial amount at the pump every few days or so. No matter how often you drive, however, you can take steps to minimize the money you spend on gas. By picking up a few good habits, you’ll save in the long run and have more left over for play when the weekend rolls around.
 
Cut the engine
 
It’s a common misconception that leaving your car running is more efficient than turning the engine off and on again. The U.S. Department of Energy dispels this myth, saying that you should turn off your vehicle any time you’re idling for more than 10 seconds.
 
According to the DOE, idling consumes up to a half gallon of fuel every hour depending on engine size. While you’re not likely to idle for that long, that translates to about $0.03 of wasted fuel per minute. If you think about all the time you spend sitting idle in a given year, that really adds up.
 
Be less aggressive
 
Overly aggressive driving is one surefire way to get less bang for your buck when it comes to fuel. According to the DOE, being overly aggressive behind the wheel can have a major impact on fuel consumption. While being alert and defensive is important, accelerating too quickly, speeding, and hard braking can reduce gas mileage by as much as 30 percent on the highway and 40 percent in the city.
 
Speeding in particular can take a big bite out of fuel economy. The DOE writes that you essentially pay an extra $0.22 per gallon of gas for every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph.
 
Shop smart
 
Improving your driving habits isn’t the only way to save more money on gas. How you pay for gas can also go a long way to keeping money in your pocket.
 
Money Crashers contributor Brian Martucci suggests purchasing gas with a dedicated gas credit card or a credit card that pays higher cash rewards for gas purchases. By earning upwards of 3 or 4 percent back on every fill-up, you’re essentially saving money whenever you pick up the nozzle.
 
Martucci also recommends considering a fuel-finder app that helps you locate the cheapest gas prices in your vicinity. One of the most popular options is GasBuddy, which provides up-to-date prices and the ability to search by gas station brands so you can maximize rewards. GasBuddy also offers complimentary access to handy information like predicated demand and pricing so that you can fill up on a day where prices are more likely to be low.
 
There are several more steps that you can take to improve your fuel economy and save money — like reducing vehicle weight, making sure your tires are properly inflated, and staying current on maintenance. With the right tactics, you can see your monthly fuel expenses decrease and your fun money budget increase.
 
This article is presented by Jake Sweeney Mazda.
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