How to Save Money While Driving

How to Save Money While Driving
Written by Irina Vasilescu

You need a car to go from point A to point B. When running errands, driving to work, getting the kids to or from school – all these require some sort of transportation. Perhaps the only exception of when you’d not need a car is when you live in a city like New York where it is more convenient to hail a cab or take public transportation rather than drive.

Now, as you may already know, buying a car is a huge investment. Maintaining it will also cost you a lot – so it pays to learn which techniques you can use in order to save money while driving. The first thing that you need to remember is that when buying a car, you need to consider the maintenance costs.

You might have dreamt of driving that red sports car your whole life but when you consider the insurance premiums that you have to pay, is it really worth it? If you’re considering buying a large SUV which is actually a gas guzzler, how much money would you have to allot for gas expenses?

If you would like to save money while driving and you are still in the process of buying a new car or if you are thinking of replacing your old one, it definitely pays to consider buying a hybrid vehicle, or a make and model of a car that is fuel-efficient.

What Are the Best Ways to Save Money While Driving?

If you already own a car and you would like to save money while driving, how can you do just that? Take a look at the following list:

Drive less

There are many ways for you to drive less even if have a car exclusively for your own use. First, carpool. If you use your car to drive to and from work, make a schedule with a neighbor, a friend or a co-worker so that you can all drive together and save money on gas. The same thing holds true when driving and picking up the kids from school. Third, assign an errand day and plan your route.

Let’s say that it’s the weekend and you need to buy groceries, stop by the dry cleaner’s and get money from the ATM. Plan your route accordingly so that you won’t have to waste gas. When picking up groceries, make a list so that you won’t have to drive back all the way to the store if you forgot milk or a carton of eggs. If you can walk or bike to a specific destination, do so and get the exercise you need while also saving money on gas.

Drive slower

Did you know that your driving habits have a big effect on the way that your car uses up gas? Take speeding up as an example. When the road is almost empty or when you’re driving at night, you might give in to the instinct of picking up your speed. Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, and as long as you’re driving safely and within the legal limits, you should consider slowing down if you want to save money while driving.

How exactly does slowing down allow you to save money while driving? When you’re driving on maximum speed, the drag factor of the care also increases, which boost fuel consumption. Driving just below the speed limit, smoothly and not accelerating quickly allows your car to use gas more efficiently. When you make a habit of this, you might not necessarily have to fill up the tank as often as you would when driving as if the devil’s on your tail.

Just one more quick note about this: for every 5 mph that you reduce your speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 7%. So if you cut your driving speed from 70 mph to 65 mph, you can save up to 14 cents per gasoline unit.

Drive more smoothly

Similar to how you would be saving money when driving slowly, driving more smoothly will also be kinder to your wallet. No matter what the road conditions are, you should avoid jackrabbit starts and stops. Jerking the car around while driving may be attributed to the bad habits of a student driver but if you usually do this, you will be using up a lot of gas.

Not only that, but you are also putting yourself and the other drivers using the road with you in danger if you are not driving efficiently. If you’re in the highway and you are prone to using jackrabbit stops and starts, you will add as much as 35% to your gas bill. The cost savings of driving more smoothly? How about cutting your per gallon gas consumption by 66 cents?

Use the brakes wisely

The primary reason for laying off the brakes while driving is safety. Again, you should maintain a smooth, reasonable speed while behind the wheel in order to save money on gas. But when you use the brake too much, not only are you wasting money on gas, but you are also increasing the wear and tear of the road on your car.

Using jerking motions while braking will wear out the brake pads on your car. Not using the brakes wisely will lead you to use up 35% more gas. When laying off the brakes, on the other hand, you can save up to 70 cents per gallon.

Lighten up your car’s load

When you watch one of those Hollywood flicks which involve heists or car chases, don’t you see how the heroes usually get rid of the junk in their vehicles to get its maximum speed? The same thing applies in real life. When you lighten the load on your car, you can increase its speed as well as its fuel efficiency.

According to car experts, for every 100 extra pounds that your car lugs around, you can lose 1% to 2% in fuel efficiency. It’s fine to carry around tools in the trunk in case your car needs a tire change in the middle of the road, but get rid of all the other extras which add weight to the engine. When you lighten up your car’s load, you can save up to three cents per gallon in gas consumption.

Check your air filter

According to friendly neighborhood mechanics, nearly one out of four cars on the road need an air filter replacement. When you have a clean air filter, you can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage by as much as 10%. This means that you can enjoy an overall cost savings of 20 cents per gallon if you will replace your car’s air filter. Little maintenance tasks like these will add greatly to the fuel efficiency of your car.

Check your tires

There are a few things that you can do for this. First, make sure that your car’s tires have the recommended pressure. When the rubber is deflated, this can decrease the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. On the other hand, overinflated tires can cause wear and tear on the rubber – which would result to more frequent replacements. When you pump up deflated tires, you can save up to six cents per gallon of gas.

Tune up the engine

Similar to your own health, the rule of thumb to follow when maintaining your car is that prevention is better than cure. Instead of allow your car’s engine to be dirty or overused, sending it to the shop for regular tune-ups will save you a lot of money in the long run. A properly-maintained engine can boost your mileage by as much as 4%, and save you up to eight cents per gallon of gas.

Turn off your car’s air conditioning unit

There’s nothing wrong with pumping up the AC on your car while driving during the intense heat of the summer. But when you constantly do it, it can turn your car into a gas-guzzler, even if it’s not an SUV. To save money on gas, keep the AC off as often as possible.

When parking, look for a shaded area or roll the windows down a crack to let the air circulate. If you just arrived at the parking lot and you feel that the temperature inside the car is stifling, air it out a bit by rolling the windows down and wait a few minutes before turning the AC on.

Know how to save money on gas

Finally, learn how to save money on gas. As mentioned earlier, buying a car which is fuel-efficient in the first place is the most economical way to drive from point A to point B. If you don’t have the budget yet for a car replacement, follow the aforementioned tips on how you can save money on gas through your driving and car maintenance habits.

When filling up the tank, you can use the following apps or websites to determine which gasoline station offers the lowest rates. Even a few cents per gallon in price can make a big difference in the total, especially if you are filling up the tank in full:

Instead of waiting for gas prices to go down, you can simply follow these tips on how to save money while driving. Watching how your driving habits affect your car’s gas consumption, always tuning up your vehicle and knowing where to purchase gas cheaply are the ways for you to save money while driving your car.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.


  • I feel like I spend so much money on driving every month! I would definitely like to save in this area. I didn’t know there were apps to tell you about cheap gas prices, that’s great. I am downloading one now. Hopefully it can save me a little bit day to day.

  • No kidding. Vehicles already cost considerable money for its maintenance, so it’s best that you do everything possible to reduce the probability of having to pay more on top of that by taking care of your vehicle when you drive it and trying not to strain it in any of its aspects. This is quite a good article. Thanks for the read.

  • These are helpful tips the decrease usage of your automobiles. I frequently ask my neighbor friends if they need something when I’m running to the store, and they look at me as if I’m crazy. I’m from an area that isn’t car-obsessed, and everyone here grew up driving like they breathe air, since they turned 16, so they don’t understand carpooling and such, but hopefully eventually, some of my habits will rub off on them. I especially like the suggestions about speed and brakes. If more followed them, not only would they save money, but the roads would be safer.

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