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5 simple ways to save on gas

Your smartphone and your credit card can be tools to reduce the damage of high gas prices to your budget.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 29, 2011 10:34AM

This post comes from Jeanine Skowronski at partner site MainStreet.

 

Gas prices continue to rise to atmospheric levels, leaving many Americans to wonder how they can save on fuel during the forthcoming summer months.

 

Fortunately, while little can be done to stop escalating costs, there are a few steps motorists can take to minimize the toll it takes on their pocketbooks.

 

"The biggest way to save on gas is to lower the amount of fuel you use," Jen Funkhouser, the co-founder and CEO of CarCheckup, tells MainStreet. The most obvious way to do this, of course, is to simply drive less, but for those who prefer to stay on the road, there are some small changes to your driving habits you can make.

Turn off your car. "Minimize the time you spend in idle," Funkhouser says, explaining that any time you find yourself stopping for more than 30 seconds or more -- minus time spent in traffic -- you should turn off your car.

 

Drive defensively. You should also cut back on driving fast, unnecessarily changing lanes, breaking hard and, conversely, slamming down on the accelerator since, according to experts (and the U.S. Department of Energy), aggressive driving eats up more fuel than defensive driving does. In fact, according to recent government estimates, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph and drivers should assume that each 5 mph over that limit costs an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.

 

Perform necessary repairs. The Energy Department estimates that fixing a serious maintenance problem can improve your gas mileage by as much as 40%. If you don't have enough money to pay for a major repair, the DOE suggests some smaller adjustments, like keeping your tires properly inflated (improving gas mileage by 3.3%) and getting a tune-up, which improves gas mileage by an average of 4%. You could also just get rid of that junk in your trunk, since extra weight will also reduce your car's fuel efficiency.

 

Use your smartphone. According to Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert for The Frugals, a network of money-saving websites that includes CouponSherpa.com, drivers looking to save on fuel should take advantage of all the help their smartphone has to offer.

 

"There are apps for just about everything these days and indeed, there is an app that will help you save at the pump," she says. Woroch's digital suggestions include using GasBuddy, a free GPS app for iPhones, Android and Windows phones that locates gas stations in your area and lists the current price per gallon.

She also recommends the free CheapGas app for the iPhone, which will navigate you to the least expensive gas station on your route.

 

Get a credit card with gas rewards. Those who are truly looking to save and also happen to be in the market for a new credit line should consider getting a card that earns points on gas purchases.

"Credit cards that offer gas reward programs are very popular because you can build points or receive cash back for purchases made at the pump with the card," Woroch explains.

 

While these cards can offer anywhere from 1% to 5% back in rewards on purchases, consumers should just make sure to read the fine print carefully before settling on one, since some rewards programs come with restrictions.

 

"Some cards offer a high reward percentage as an introductory offer but it may drop significantly after the initial period," Woroch explains. "Many cards are only valid for use with one gas station company."

 

If you fear the credit commitment, you can also sign up for a specific gas station or chain's loyalty program. Various programs are offered through BPChevron/Texaco and ExxonMobil.

 

More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

18Comments
Apr 29, 2011 12:48PM
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SO basically...just use common sense when you drive. I think its obivous that if you drive like a hothead flooring it at the light  and doing 75+ on the highway your going to burn more fuel.  
Apr 29, 2011 2:27PM
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"breaking hard"?? Really MSN? Last time I checked, my car had 'brakes', not 'breaks'.
Apr 29, 2011 4:35PM
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its all b.s, this is crap, most people know this is crap,how stupid do you think we are.its time to stand up people .let everyone know youre tired of all this crap thats going on .we have to stand up together and put a stop to this b.s
Apr 29, 2011 3:27PM
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Only do the speed limit, especially on the interstate. Doing 65 MPH vs. 75 MPH will save gas. I get 32 MPG at 65 MPH and 29 MPG doing 75 MPH. Unless you are driving 1,000 miles, you really aren't getting there quicker at 75 MPH with all the traffic holdups. Use the extra money to go play golf and relax.
Apr 29, 2011 3:33PM
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Training for a half marathon, I have been parking 4.2 miles away at the park n ride ... running to my car in the morning, running from it in the evening.  I won't have my health indefinitely, so I'm tickled that I'm still able to do this at 53 going on 54.  It adds about 1 hour to my commute, but an enjoyable hour where I can unwind and see things from a different perspective.  Car gets good milage so I only save 1 gallon a week or so.  Still, I don't see anybody else joining me!  LOL
Apr 29, 2011 5:19PM
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Another way is to think hard if you really need to take the trip.  Maybe it can be combined with another trip?
Apr 29, 2011 3:36PM
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Doesn't turning on your car take gas too? So wouldn't you be wasting gas if you kept turning it off then on
Apr 30, 2011 8:42AM
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I agree it is all b.s, we need to take this country back!!! If we all just stand together we can fight this. I heard and read that people are even writing bad checks for heating oil most of those people are between 50 and 70. Then they have to go to court for the bad check. So they just hit the elderly up for fines or jail. Well if they did not have money for heat they cant pay a fine! Lets just throw grandma in jail. Wake up people they are just taking us out one at a time like sheep. Time for the sheep to join forces. We need to as Americans all of us set a date to all go to the white house and let them know enough is enough. There needs to be millions of us make it epic. Then they have to listen!!!
Apr 29, 2011 4:17PM
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My local grocery chain also sells gasoline - they have a frequent shopper card - every time you buy your groceries you get gas discount points let me tell you they add up! I once received a dollar off each gallon on a fill up ( it was really fun to pay like 1.79 a gallon even if it only happened once) but the average is about 20-30 cents per gallon on one fill up per month.

 

I also find that slowing down and speeding up gradually save much more than people think.

Apr 30, 2011 8:34AM
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Pertinence of Gas Saving:
First off, get your traveling itinerary on the right track.  Make lesser trips by driving in a large circle, whether going to work or on errands in your leisure time.  As thee article states you save money and gas by traveling below 60 mph.  Some of you might be too young, but during The Carter Administration we had a big gas crunch in the '70's of the last century.  That stated 55 Saves.  55 saves gas and saves lives.  State Police don't often give you the stats of road fatalities, from traveling over 65 mph, and the news don't broadcast the crashes.  Police know that 55 saves is a good idea and would make their jobs a lot easier and less painful.  Seems like a no brainer to them in road services.  Another way to always save gas is to run your errands on Sunday morning.  People sleep in and some creep to Church, but the roads are near barren of any congested traffic.  I like going to Wal-mart on a Sunday morning, a good general store with no crowds and mellow driving and shopping.  As you save money these ways, on a "poor man's" budget.  Plan to use one of your healthy paychecks, or savings, not on mad-money spending, but getting your car converted to natural gas at 60 cents a gallon with a gas cylinder in your trunk, it is what the corporate car fleets are doing, even the US government.  Massachusetts Commonwealth Gas has done it for near a half century.  Another cheap way of "claiming" your natural gas, is to put a simple methane converter on your property, that ferments pig dung and grass clippings into natural gas, for house and cars.  Far less expensive than an electric car: at 50% the price of petrol, in within budget, way before "off the grid" solar panels are in your future.  Finally you should invest in his and her Mopeds for jaunts about Town and the countryside, and daily errands.  The savings are incredible, at on average $1000.00 a Moped from your tax returns, that pay for themselves, in a 100 days of light travel, and they're a ball in fresh air and the scenic route.  In 300 days you have tripled your money with two nice quality machines to show for it.  Here is a link to thee author's choice: Roketa Sicily 50cc Moped, web search,  happy trails and buy your staples in bulk.  Smile.
Apr 29, 2011 5:03PM
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Well not everyone can ride a bike, walk to work or drive a smart car.   Like the company that installed by front door or did my roof.   They had to drive 75+ miles one way and have to transport tools and materials.  So please tell me what they are supposed to do?   Ride a bike and go green?    It amazes me that people can't think outside of their little shell.
Apr 29, 2011 3:53PM
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Most manufacturers recommend a tune-up at 100,000 miles.
Apr 29, 2011 3:54PM
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Your onboard computer tunes the car continuosly.
Apr 10, 2012 9:16PM
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i feel its terrible the way the so called rich oil people control all of our lives with playing with the prices. and the fuel haulers who bring the fuel to stations also get the shaft, because the diesel is higher in price! ( that changed our lives in 2003)  in turn food is higher it goes on and on.i don`t know who for sure is making the most with money, the oil dip sticks or our so called president of of usa. i don`t think many people in this great united states really care any more, just keep getting the shaft we are all in a sad situation!!  when all we thing is MONEY.!! no matter who it is. who was the dumb person that got the brain storm to send  our jobs over seas, just to buy it back again. same with oil

refineries why can`t the USA have it own, our do we need their permission for this also!! there is so much BS going on!    Deep down in my Heart I love America, but I DON`T LIKE what our leaders are doing to America!!  May the Good Lord help us!!

May 27, 2011 5:14AM
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Take all the tax subsidies off of the price of gas and cars and let the people who drive more pay the full price.  Your are paying for the real price of gasoline when you pay for the money loaned to country that is running or deficit , one Billion$ dollar a day oil import. 

And , you are competing with your own military to feed you car. Do you have any idea of how much all the ships,  aircraft,  trucks , tanks burn all over the world each day? How much of the oil do the tankers that deliver the oil burn. You do know that sunshine and wind is delivered to you for free by mother nature, or do you really know that?
Apr 29, 2011 4:32PM
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It is quite shocking, that not one dare suggest "stay home" or simply drive for all your shopping once a week in one trip; it can be done, and a couple of people in the US are doing that now. but in the rest of the western world we have 7-9 Dollar gas prices, to get peop[le to think, and keep them off the road, and this in all the 9 countries ahead of US, that think more of their government than we do  here in the us. All the extra tax is then used for basics like convinient and useful reliable transportation, that is affordable,

--Possibly MSN would then get cut off from business adds if they suggested to stop buying things that you do not need, and driving around all day for basically no good reason

Apr 29, 2011 2:10PM
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Educate you community on the importance on bike lanes, so you actually have a commuting choice that doesn't risk your life....you listening Bowling Green Kentucky?

Also don't let your oversized ego or lack of other attributes force you to drive obnoxious pickup trucks, oversized SUV's, ect. These are the type of drivers who are forcing up gas prices via supply and demand.

Apr 29, 2011 1:16PM
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Sell ur car and use a bicycle...u save all the gas money...duh!!
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