How to Save Money on Gas

Who doesn’t want to save money on gas these days. While the prices at the pump aren’t at historic highs —and boy are we thankful for that — they are still pretty high.

For example, it used to cost between $30 and $40 to fill the tank of our Subaru. Now? It’s $50 to $60.

It’s been a long time since we saw gas under $2. But there are ways you can keep your gas spending to a reasonable amount.

Easy ways to save money on gas

In addition to shopping around for the best prices on gas, there are other ways you can save money on your fuel costs. I’ve outlined some easy and fast ways to get this done.

Change your engine air filter regularly

An air filter is essentially your vehicle’s lung. A clean air filter helps the engine “breathe” and run more efficiently.

On the other hand, a clogged air filter makes the engine work harder.

According to the Federal Government, replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car’s gas mileage by as much as 10%.

Keep tires inflated and in good condition

This tip to help you save money on gas is also one that applies to car care. That is, you need to make sure your tires remain in good condition.

One, it makes your driving experience more pleasant and safe.

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Two, under inflated tires can be gas bandits. That is, they create extra friction where the rubber meets the road and decrease your fuel efficiency.

Three, incorrectly inflated tires also wear unevenly. This is a problem because it can cause a blowout. Or, it might mean you have to replace your tires more often, and tires are not cheap.

Where to find your car’s tire pressure information

You can find your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure information in the vehicle owner’s manual. Additionally, you’ll find these numbers on the inside of the driver’s side door. Here’s a picture from the inside of the driver’s-size door of my Subaru Forester:

psi label inside drivers side door of subaru
PSI labels. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

It’s important to note that the tire pressure number for front tires is often different than the back tires. This is especially true with all-wheel drive cars.

Use vehicle-recommended grade motor oil

Motor oil lubricates the engine, keeping it cool and reducing friction between moving parts.

As the motor oil circulates, it also cleans away harmful dirt and contaminants.

Using your vehicle owner’s manual recommended grade oil can improve your gas mileage up to 2%.

Also, it goes without saying that you should stay up to date on oil changes. This is good advice for the overall health of your car’s engine.

Save money on gas by lightening your load

Are you driving around with bags of clothes you want to consign? Or boxes of items you’re hoping to donate to Goodwill? Or, like me, bags of wood pellets you got from a home improvement store in your car’s trunk and have been too lazy to bring inside?

car trunk filled with stuff
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

All of this extra weight in your car can sink how efficiently your car uses gas. So, you’ll end up filling your car up with gas more often rather than saving money by skipping the gas station for longer periods of time. and it bears repeating again here.

Bottom line: leave unnecessary items at home before setting out on a drive. Or, note to self, take in heavy purchases as soon as you get home.

Make sure your gas cap fits tightly

Today’s smart car computers will often give an alert when your gas cap is too loose. However, if you’re driving an older car, you may not know if the cap is loose.

Here’s why you want to always make sure your gas cap has closed properly: driving around with a loose gas cap can cause you to “waste” up to three gallons of gas each month or about 30 gallons over a year.

That’s money you could have saved on gas that is escaping through that gas cap. Also, on newer model cars, a loose gas cap can trigger a “Check Engine” warning. This has happened many times with our Subaru cars.

So, what happens when you get that “Check Engine” light? Well, don’t be like Penny in “The Big Bag Theory” and ignore it.

check engine light BBT

You take your car in for service. And service is never free, right, meaning you’ll spend more money at the mechanic to fix a problem you could have avoided by making sure your gas cap is tight.

Drive more evenly to improve gas mileage

If you can avoid the rapid acceleration and quick braking that is aggressive driving’s calling card, you will improve your gas mileage.

But if you stay all hot-and-bothered behind the wheel, you can expect to lower your gas mileage by as much as 5% for around-town driving.

Fill up at gas stations that give you a break

Right now, we do much of our local grocery shopping at Giant Eagle supermarkets in Western Pennsylvania. We also get our prescriptions at the Giant Eagle pharmacy in town.

In addition, Giant Eagle owns Get Go gas stations.

By being in the Giant Eagle rewards program, we earn points towards money off gas for every shopping trip or prescription we pick up.

Recently, I was able to cash in $8 in rewards to shave that amount off filling my tank.

When we lived in Eastern Pennsylvania, we shopped at Giant Foods (not associated with Giant Eagle). Giant Foods also had fuel stations. So we could use rewards we earned from grocery shopping to save money on gas.

Here’s what you need to know about saving money at Costco gas stations.

Use a credit card that rewards you for filling up

Like many Americans, we have multiple credit cards in our wallets. And which one we use when we need gas depends on different promotions.

For example, from time to time during the year, the Discover Card will offer an extra cash back bonus if you use Discover at the pump. At one point last year, there was a three-month span where we could earn 5% cash back for gas. There was a max $1,500 you could earn during that period.

Also, if you have a Costco membership and the Costco VISA card, you earn a higher cash-back amount when you use that card for Costco purchases. Costco gas stations count.

This is the current promotion for cash back rewards on gas purchases:

“Earn 4% on eligible gas and EV charging with the Costco Anywhere Visa® card for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter.”

I’m told that some of the gas station brands that qualify for extra cash back include Chevron, Exxon and Shell.

Do supermarket gas rewards points expire

There are a number of supermarkets that have gas rewards points that you can cash in for discounted gas.

You may be wondering if those points expire. Here’s what I found out.

Giant Foods gas points expiration

Giant Foods requires rewards members to use Giant gas rewards points earned within 30 days of earning them.

FYI, these rewards get you $.10 off per gallon at participating Shell stations.

Safeway gas rewards

With Safeway gas rewards, they work in one of two ways. One, you get $.10 off per gallon at participating gas stations.

Or, two, you get $1 off per gallon of gas at Safeway-brand gas stations.

Finally, do Safeway gas rewards expire? Yes, after a month has passed.

Here is how the Safeway website explains gas rewards:

“Gas Rewards and Grocery Rewards earned during each calendar month may be used only until the end of the following calendar month, after which such Rewards expire (e.g., Rewards earned in January expire at the end of February). Moreover, any remaining Point totals less than 100 points expire at the end of each applicable calendar month.”

Weis gas rewards points

It does not appear that Weis gas rewards points ever expire. However, there is a limit to how many you can cash in at any one time.

For example, in 2018, Weis Markets changed the rules about gas rewards points. Now, you’re limited to redeeming 1,000 points only, for a maximum of $1 off per gallon of gas.

Also, you’re limited to only applying this discount to 20 gallons of gas. So, if your car’s tank takes more than 20 gallons, you’re limited to the $20 discount.

Warehouse and wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club give members a discount on filling up. Recently, we filled up at a local Cumberland Farms gas station in Maine for $3.07 a gallon. If we drove 10 minutes up the road to the new Costco in Maine, we could have gotten gas for $2.99 per gallon.

You’ll need to scan your membership card at the gas pump to get this discount. Which is why if you live near and shop at Costco, it makes sense to sign up for a membership through the Groupon deal below.

Costco Membership Deal via Groupon

The best deal on a Costco Membership right now is through Groupon. When you sign up, you’ll get your one-year membership plus a $40 Costco Digital Shop Card for free.

In case you didn’t know, the Costco Shop Card is the store’s gift card. You can use it in store or online.

This offer is for new Costco memberships only or for former Costco members whose membership expired more than 18 months ago. So, if you’ve moved, there wasn’t a Costco nearby and you let your membership lapse for more than 18 months, you’re good to go to sign up for this deal again!

Also, you can avoid the lines at your Costco location by signing up for this Groupon Costco deal. This was the crowd at the new Costco in Maine near where I live. Yikes!

lines at costco on opening day
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Terms and Conditions

  • After purchase you’ll receive an email from Costco confirming your membership details. To pick up your membership card, stop by the membership counter at any Costco location and bring a copy of that email with your photo ID. Incentive will be emailed within 2 weeks after sign-up to qualifying members.
  • You’re receiving a One-Year Costco Gold Star Membership
  • A membership card for the Primary Cardholder and one additional Household Card for anyone living at the same address, over the age of 16
  • A $40 Digital Costco Shop Card (valid at Costco locations and
  • Valid only for new members and those whose previous memberships (Primary and Household) have been expired for at least 18 months or more.
  • Please allow up to two hours to receive your confirmation email from Costco. You must have either your Costco or Groupon confirmation email to receive your physical membership card at a Costco location.
  • A physical membership card is not required to shop online or receive your incentives.
  • Incentive includes a $40 Digital Costco Shop Card
  • Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed within 2 weeks after sign-up to qualifying members.
  • Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed to the email address provided by the Primary Member at time of sign-up.
  • Not valid for the renewal of an existing Costco membership.
  • To purchase this package, you must be 18 years of age or over, and agree to Costco’s Membership Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • All sales final.
  • $40 Digital Costco Shop Card is not redeemable for cash, except as required by law. Digital Costco Shop Cards are not accepted at Costco Gas Stations, Car Washes, or Food Court Kiosks.

Again, this a Groupon-only deal for a Costco membership.

Other warehouse club memberships

Perhaps you prefer to shop at another warehouse club because it is more convenient to where you live than Costco is. Good news: Both BJs and Sam’s Club have Groupon deals right now for memberships. Plus, both tend to have gas stations where members can get a cheaper price when filling up the gas tank.

Advance Auto Parts has a great hack for making the most of gas rewards program.

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  1. Hi, Keri:

    I wrote about hypermiling in my Suddenly Frugal book and, darn it, I just realized that I forgot to include it in the frugal lexicon. I hypermile with the way I park my car. I won’t try dangerous things like drafting, though.