Unless you’ve already gone electric, you don’t need a news story to tell you how fast gas prices are rising. The national average is a record high of $4.316 per gallon, according to AAA, and one record beats another. Things are so bad that Uber and Lyft are imposing fuel surcharges to help keep their drivers afloat.
So what about people who only drive for themselves? How are they doing and what do they need to do to get by, especially if they already had shoestring budgets before prices skyrocketed?
See: A History of Gas Prices: Do you remember how little you once paid?
Read: Record gas prices wipe out Uber and Lyft drivers’ take home pay — and they’re not being compensated
GOBankingRates polled more than 1,000 American adults nationwide and found that more than half – 52.87% – drive less. Older sets are more likely than their younger counterparts to reduce their driving, although men and women drive less in nearly identical percentages. But for some people, spending less time behind the wheel is just not an option.
About 1 in 5 would like to drive less but just can’t. 28% do not change their driving habits at all.
So, besides not driving as much as before, what can ordinary people do to cope with this very erratic spike in gas prices? GOBankingRates asked the experts to share their top fuel saving tips.
You can’t control the price of gas, but you can control how you drive — and how you drive has a lot to do with how much gas you burn.
“Avoid sudden starts and stops,” said Jonathan Sykes, CEO of My Car Repair. “Avoid braking unnecessarily – do not accelerate when the light turns green because the car in front of you is still stationary.”
The U.S. Department of Energy backs up that claim, saying aggressive driving like this reduces fuel economy by 15-30 percent on the highway and 10-40 percent in traffic.
Sykes also recommends turning off your car when standing.
“Even standing still, idling cars burn gas and emit pollutants,” Sykes said.
Here, too, DOE data backs up Sykes’ advice – idling cars can burn a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour while cranking a car’s engine burns only a few seconds of gasoline.
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One of the best things you can do for your own physical well-being, the safety of other drivers on the road, and for your wallet is to simply drop a few miles per hour on the speedometer.
“Maintaining a safe speed or driving just below it can benefit you more than you think,” said Ian Lang, automotive advice editor at Bumper.com.
According to the DOE, every 5 miles per hour you drive over 50 mph adds 29 cents per gallon to gasoline prices today. Much of this has to do with the aerodynamics at work on your vehicle. “Wind resistance increases the faster you go, which reduces fuel economy,” Lang said.
Along the same lines, rooftop cargo carriers can create enough aerodynamic drag to reduce fuel economy by up to 25 percent, according to the DOE.
Driving well at modest speeds is part of the battle, but treating your car well can save you even more money on gas.
“Maintain your car properly,” Sykes said. “Don’t carry extra weight in your car if you don’t need it. Remove unnecessary items like golf clubs or tools you only use once in a while. Keep tires properly inflated – the correct pressure is marked on the tire itself – and make sure they are not over-inflated or under-inflated. Improperly inflated tires can reduce fuel economy by 10% or more.
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Another thing you can control is when you fill up your tank – and that hit of timing matters more than you might think.
“In most cases, gas prices are cheaper towards the start of the week,” said Phil Dengler, co-owner of The Vacationer. “This means that, on average, prices are cheaper on Mondays than they are on Fridays.”
A study by GasBuddy backs up the claim that Monday is the best day to refuel, but helpful reports like this aren’t the only reason you should download the app.
“The GasBuddy app is a must-have for anyone looking for the cheapest gas prices,” Dengler said. “It’s easy to use and shows the cheapest prices from gas stations near you.”
He also recommends using the GetUpside app to save up to 25 cents per gallon in cash back.
At the very least, you can make sure you pay at the pump with plastic rewards for expensive gas purchases.
“I always use a credit card when buying gas and regularly earn 3% to 5% cash back,” Dengler said. “Credit cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card – earns 6x points per dollar spent on gas – and the Blue Cash Preferred Card – earns 3% cash back on gas – are some of my favorite cards for shopping. purchase of gasoline. Additionally, the Chase Freedom Flex Card and Discover It Card — each with no annual fee — regularly offer 5% cash back on gas as part of their quarterly rotation categories. Other good gas cards are the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card – 1.5% cash back on all purchases – and the Citi Double Cash Card – 2% cash back on purchases, 1% when you buy plus 1% when you pay.
More from GOBankingRates
Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,012 Americans ages 18 and older across the country between March 8 and March 9, 2022, asking sixteen different questions: (1) Do you consider yourself financially literate? ; (2) Where did you acquire most of your financial literacy? ; (3) What financial topic do you think you should have learned more about in high school? (Select all that relate to it); (4) What financial topic do you still think you need more education on in 2022? (Select all that relate to it); (5) When you were growing up, did your parents talk to you about how to manage your money? ; (6) Do you think high schools lack financial education? ; (7) How much has the lack of financial education cost you the most? ; (8) At what age did you become comfortable with basic financial skills (i.e. writing a cheque, balancing accounts, budgeting)? ; (9) At what age did you start saving and planning for your retirement? ; (10) What do you think about how you used your 2021 US bailout stimulus check? ; (11) What financial topic did you feel the need to learn more about due to the COVID-19 pandemic? (Select all that relate to it); (12) What don’t you understand about the Child Tax Credit? (Select all that relate to it); (13) What part of the home buying process is the most confusing for you? ; (14) What part of the car buying process is the most confusing for you? ; (15) Are you ready for the student debt moratorium to end in May? ; and (16) How are your driving habits changing with rising gas prices? GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the survey.