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Ways to Save on Fuel when Moving Cross Country

November 10th, 2017 - 9:01 AM

How to save on gas costs

Before any road trip, you map out the route, scout hotels and food stops, and make sure the car is ready for the road. But do you make a plan for fuel? Most people know there will be gas stations along the route and hit the road, not worrying much about the best places to stop. But that may not be the best tactic. With a little pre-planning, you can save money on gas. Learn how to save with these tips on finding coupons and discounts, and see how to reduce fuel consumption during the trip.  

gasoline coupons can save on fuel costs

Gas saving tips

With a few simple tips and some easy changes, you can reduce overall fuel costs for a long distance trip. Here are ways to save:

Getting gas discounts

One of the biggest ways to save on fuel is by taking advantage of gas discount programs.

Join rewards programs

Many gas stations have rewards programs where frequent purchases can earn you discounts, gas coupons or even free fuel. Check with your favorite fuel station grocery stores for fuel programs, so you can join early and start earning rewards, discounts or points.

Buy discounted gas cards

Another way to save is by buying fuel gift cards at a discount. There are sites like Raise.com, CardCash.com and GiftCardGranny.com where people can sell unused gift cards, and many of them are discounted anywhere from 5% to 20%. That may mean buying a $50 gift card for only $40, so you get $50 worth of gas for just $40!

Avoid state lines for fuel

The smartphone app, GasBuddy, released a study indicating that fuel prices can increase (sometimes drastically) at state borders. Looking at 20 high-risk areas, they found that the price spread differed by an average of $10 per tank (in extreme cases it was up to $25 more per tank). This can be caused by things like the difference in state and local taxes and different types of gasoline required in different regions. Being aware of this and checking prices ahead of time can tell you which side of the border to fuel up on. For the cheapest fuel, city centers (of mid-sized cities) often have the cheapest gas.

Use apps to find the cheapest fuel

Download a smartphone app so you can look at rates on the go. GasBuddy, Gas Guru and Fuel Finder are three free apps that help locate gas stations and find the best gas prices nearby.   

Reducing gas consumption

Another way to save on gas costs is to use less fuel. Try these tactics:

Chose a fuel-efficient vehicle

If you have multiple vehicles to use for your trip, or if you’re looking to buy a new one, look at the gas mileage estimates and pick the most efficient vehicle. A difference in a car that gets 20 MPG or 30 MPG on a 1,500 mile road trip could be over $115.

Avoid rush hour

In many cities, driving during rush hour can mean lots of stop-and-go driving. It takes extra fuel each time you start back driving from a full stop, so it’s better to pull over and take a break during a traffic jam.

Make sure the vehicle is tuned-up

Vehicle maintenance can make a difference. Proper tire inflation, a clean air filter and oil filter and other upkeep can improve fuel efficiency. Also make sure you’re using the recommended grade of motor oil, which can improve gas mileage by up to 2%

Use the air conditioner sparingly

Running the air conditioner in warm weather is the biggest contributor to reduced fuel economy in summer. Use it when you need it, but turn it off when you don’t. And be mindful of opening the windows instead — open windows increase drag, which can decrease fuel efficiency. In warm weather, park in the shade or use a sunshade, and avoid idling to cool the vehicle before driving. For optimal cooling, check your manual to find how to best maintain the air conditioner in your particular vehicle model.

Make changes according the weather

In cold weather, park the car in a warm place, like a garage, so the initial temperature stays warmer. If you do park in the cold, minimize idling to warm up the vehicle — most manufacturers recommend only 30 seconds. And because tire pressure can change drastically in the cold, check to make sure tires are adequately filled; under-inflated tires can have a negative impact on fuel efficiency.

Drive the speed limit

Studies show that gas mileage decreases significantly when driving over 50 mph. If you’re driving on a highway or interstate where it’s safe, using cruise control to maintain a constant speed can help with fuel consumption.

Don’t overfill

When you get gas and the pump automatically shuts off, do you try to top it off with a little more gas? Overfilling the tank can be problematic. Gas stations have vapor recovery systems that feed vapors and gas back into the station’s tank once the tank is full, so excess gas may be drawn back into their storage tanks. Once your tank is full and the pump shuts off, hang up the fuel pump.

Tighten the gas cap

Make sure the gas cap has a tight fit, as gas can evaporate. Replace the gas cap if necessary, or just make sure to place the cap on quickly and fully tighten it when refueling.

Make the vehicle aerodynamic

As you prepare for a long distance move, make your vehicle as aerodynamic as possible. Reducing vehicle drag increases fuel economy. Avoid using roof racks or driving with the windows down (at least on the highway) to reduce drag.

Any other tips on saving gas?

Do you have any other tips to save on gas or gas consumption? We would love to hear your favorite ideas in the comments below!

Check out this other road trip resource

The Ultimate Guide on How to Plan a Road Trip

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