These days, filling your gas tank can really drain your wallet. The average price of a gallon of regular gas in Massachusetts, which stood at less than $2 last year, has now officially topped $5 as of June 7. Massachusetts drivers paid an average of $4.73 as of May 24-June 1. That’s an increase of over a quarter from just the week before.
It makes road trips, and even running errands, a pricier proposition, but here are seven ways to save money and make the most of your fill-ups.
- Plan your trips. Improve your driving habits. Combine errands and drive during low-traffic times. Pick up bread and milk while heading home from work, or en route to the soccer field. If you're working from home, take advantage of non-weekend driving if at all possible. Don't forget that there are a number of apps will steer you in the right direction when it comes to gas locations and prices. Gas Buddy, Gas Guru, AAA TripTik Travel Planner, Waze, and MapQuest are just a few options to see what gas stations along your route are charging and plan accordingly.
- Keep up with maintenance. It can be tempting to skip required maintenance to save a few bucks, but properly inflated tires and clean air filters make your car more fuel efficient, thus saving you money (not to mention that skipping maintenance can bite you with higher repair costs down the road). And don't forget regular cleaning: a washed and waxed car exterior actually improves fuel efficiency, too!
- Slow down. This might be the simplest and most helpful tip. Reduced speeds also reduce the amount of gas you use. Your car’s cruise control and overdrive gear are your friends.
- Don’t raise the roof racks (or carriers). Gas mileage can, well, hit the roof when drivers use roof racks and roof carriers. Tests have shown that roof racks can cut miles per gallon (mpg) by 11 percent. Add a cartop carrier and the mpg drops by 19 percent.
- Keep your gas cap secure. This will prevent thieves from siphoning gas. Consider a locking gas cap and always lock your car doors, which should lock the fuel door. Keep the fuel cap exposed and less vulnerable to theft by parking so the fuel door faces the road if at all possible. And always be aware of suspicious behavior around your vehicle.
- Stay local. They may all be higher than we would like, but prices do vary from station to station. Location matters: Stations on highways or near exits tend to be most expensive, so keep that in mind when planning your routes. Consider a warehouse retailer, like Costco or BJ’s, that often offer reduced prices at their pumps. And check out sites such as gasbuddy.com to find the cheapest prices in your area.
- Slim down. The junk in your car's trunk, that is. An extra 100 pounds back there can cut fuel economy by one percent. Especially as gas prices rise, that’s fuel for thought.
If you're replacing your gas guzzler this summer, be sure to download Your Guide to Smarter Car-Buying first, a free eGuide from Hanscom Federal Credit Union. Learn how to make the best financing decision for your needs and budget here and keep even more money in your pocket.
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