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6 tips to get the most out of a tank of gas

April 13, 2022
6 min read
Seattle high gas prices March 11, 2022. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
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A year ago, the average national price for a gallon of gas was $2.86, according to AAA. Now, the average national price for a gallon of gas is $4.10. This increase in fuel prices has been difficult for motorists, especially those who rely on their vehicles to make a living.

TPG has shared ways that you can save on gas using a variety of creative methods, including paying with the best credit cards for gas purchases and using third-party applications like GasBuddy.

In this post, we'll share a few ways that you can save money by getting the most out of a tank of gas. You can begin to incorporate these tips now and save on fuel without getting a new car.

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Obey speed limits

(Photo by Elodie Salomon/EyeEm/Getty Images)

We get it: Most of us drive about 10% to 15% higher than the published speed limit. Speeding, of course, is primarily a safety concern, but it also can increase your fuel consumption.

A recent Consumer Reports study measured fuel consumption at 55, 65 and 75 mph in a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4. Results indicate that driving at 55 mph instead of 65 mph improved fuel economy by 6 mpg in the Altima and 8 mpg in the RAV4. Meanwhile, driving at 75 mph instead of 65 mph took an additional 7 mpg in the Altima and 6 mpg in the RAV4.

As Consumer Reports puts it, "Speeding up from 55 to 75 mph is like moving from a compact car to a large SUV."

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Drive conservatively

(Photo by Maria Argutinskaya/EyeEm/Getty Images)

AAA encourages drivers to avoid "jack rabbit" starts, rapid acceleration and hard braking.

By driving with a lead foot, you can lower your fuel economy by 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.

Consumer Reports also encourages motorists to maintain a steady pace once they're up to speed. If the car in front of you slows down and accelerates again, you have space to maintain a steady speed. When you brake, you're forfeiting the fuel that you used to get up to speed.

Likewise, the harder that you accelerate, the more fuel you use. An efficient driver is smooth and anticipates the movement of traffic. By driving smoothly, you also extend the life of your engine, transmission, brakes and tires, according to Consumer Reports.

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Keep tires rotated and inflated to an ideal pressure

(Photo by Tim Stocker Photography/Getty Images)

State Farm suggests having your tires rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. By rotating your tires, you'll help evenly distribute the wear and tear, which saves you money on tires.

In addition, tires that are underinflated tend to decrease gas mileage. Take this as a reminder to make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer's maximum.

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Avoid excessive idling

(Photo by Melinda Podor/Getty Images)

According to AAA, a car engine sips from a quarter to half a gallon of gas per hour when idling. A warm engine only takes around 10 seconds' worth of fuel to restart. Though your car's automatic stop/start engine feature might do it automatically, AAA suggests shutting off your engine when you're going to be stopped for more than a minute, when it's safe to do so.

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Combine trips

(Photo by Rudiecast/Shutterstock.com)

Toyota suggests combining all your trips into one to save fuel. Mapping out an efficient errand route saves time and gas, particularly in winter months when warming up your engine takes more gas. By combining your trips into one, you can avoid unneeded and costly warmups.

Related: Gas prices are surging: Here’s how I save $1,000 per year on gas fill-ups

Watch your aerodynamics

(Photo by benedek/Getty Images)

Consumer Reports notes that 50% of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag at highway speeds.

Open windows and vehicle accessories add to aerodynamic drag and reduce fuel efficiency. A study was conducted with two mountain bikes on a roof rack on a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4. With the roof rack and mountain bikes, the Altima lost 13 mpg, going from 46 mpg to 33 mpg. The RAV4 lost 7 mpg, dropping to 32 mpg from 39 mpg.

And even without the bikes, the Altima lost 5 mpg while the RAV4 dropped 2 mpg by driving at highway speeds with an empty roof rack.

You might think that you'd be better off opening your car's window as opposed to using the air conditioner. But a study from SAE International shows that an open window at highway speeds decreases efficiency by around 20%. On the other hand, using the A/C will decrease your efficiency by around 10%, thanks to modern vehicles having efficient air conditioners.

Related: Quick Points: Earn airline miles for gas purchases

Bottom line

From Maine to Hawaii, Americans need to become creative to economize on fuel expenses. By adjusting to your day-to-day driving habits, you might be able to get an extra hundred miles or so out of your tank without purchasing a new car.

And by incorporating these tips, you will save on vehicle maintenance, which only stacks the potential in savings.

Featured image by Seattle high gas prices March 11, 2022. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases