7 Unconventional Ways to Save Money on Gas

by Kevin on May 12, 2011

With the up and down in the oil market there’s no telling where gas might end up next. Whether or not we’re at $3.60 per gallon today or $4.25 per gallon tomorrow, you can be fairly certain the days of 99 cent gas are gone. As prices continue to rise — both this summer and in the years ahead — gas will become a more significant portion of the family budget.

You’ve heard the normal tips to save money on gas: properly inflate your tires, do regular car maintenance, don’t accelerate and brake like a race car driver, and so on. Those are all great tips worth pursuing, but they are only going to shave small percentage points off your gas consumption, and thus, your gas cost.

Make a Big Change

To save big bucks on gas, you need to make drastic changes. Here are 7 ideas to consider:

1. Buy New Transportation

Tweaking your current car to eek out a few extra percentage points pales in comparison to buying completely new transportation. Sell your current vehicle and buy something with great gas mileage. If you have a truck getting 15 miles per gallon on average, and you buy a sedan that averages 25 miles per gallon, you just increased your gas efficiency by 66%. That’s huge. For the more adventurous (or those with really short commutes), consider buying a scooter instead. Many scooters get over 70 miles per gallon.

Be careful when you sell your vehicle and buy a different one. You might save $40 on gas every month, but if your add $300 to your budget for a car payment then the move doesn’t make sense. Save up for a “new” (to you) vehicle, sell yours, and buy something efficient and in good condition from the used car market.

2. Move Closer to Work

Want to cut down on your commute? Physically move the place you lay your head at night closer to your place of employment. This is a complicated task: you’ve got to break your lease, sell your home, or rent out your home. None are pleasant options in this economy. But physically picking up and moving closer to work could cut your commute time and distance by more than half (depending on how close you move to your employer). A 50% savings on gas is hard to find.

3. Carpool

Here’s an idea: carpool. “Wait a second,” you’re saying, “carpooling isn’t unconventional!”

It might not be in your big city, but I don’t know a single person who carpools to work. Literally every single person I know drives a separate vehicle to work, every single day. How many people do you know that carpool?

Carpooling can be a hassle, but one that saves you a lot of money. Splitting the cost of driving to work with 2, 3, or 4 other people can really cut down on your costs. The only catch is your overall commute time will probably increase from having to drop all those extra passengers off at work and at home.

4. Put Your Car on a Diet

Fuel is burned to get your car moving forward. The energy used has to move the entire weight of the car. If you want to use less energy, make the car weigh less. You can gut your car of a lot of sound deadening material or even the spare tire. I’m not saying this is the best idea — you’ll be able to hear a lot of things on the road, and you’re on your own if you get a flat tire — but dropping your car’s weight by 500 pounds will save you some cash at the gas pump.

5. Reduce Drag

A majority of cars on the road are designed to sleek and to fit into our society’s image of what a car should look like. But if you don’t care about style you can adapt your car’s bodywork to reduce drag. When you accelerate your car the engine not only has to move the weight of the car, but it has to fight against drag. By improving the aerodynamics over the vehicle you ease the burden on the engine, thus saving on gas.

6. Use a Gas App to Find Cheapest Gas

There are several websites and phone apps that bring user-generated content to you in the form of lowest gas prices. I use GasBuddy on my phone to find the closest stations that have the cheapest gas. That’s not so unconventional.

But be careful with this one: you can go crazy looking for the lowest price and drive all over town to get it. You need to do the math on the potential discount, and that’s the unconventional part of this tip. If there’s a station 10 miles away that is only 1 cent cheaper, it isn’t worth your time or effort to drive out there to buy gas. You’ll burn up a majority of your savings plus spend a lot of time that could be spent doing other things.

What you may find is that gas station sitting right in front of you with the “high” gas prices is actually the best deal around due to its proximity to you and overall cost.

7. Change Your Schedule

Instead of sitting in traffic for 10 hours per week, talk with your company to move your schedule around. When 95% of the people in your city work 8am to 5pm it is no surprise to see rush hour around those times. If you could move your schedule an hour in either direction (7am or 9am start time), you would miss out on a lot of traffic. Missing traffic equals more efficient driving equals saving money in the long run.

What are some other crazy ways you’ve saved money on gas?

{ 1 comment }

Samirian @MoneyWisdoms May 12, 2011 at 11:34 am

Thanks for the tips. I lump all of my errands and I learned to enjoy reading a good book on the patio or nearby park in the summer time. 🙂

Comments on this entry are closed.