Over the past year or so, gas prices have been steadily going up. But in the past month or so, things have really taken a turn. It seems that every day the price at the pump is higher. This has many people worried, and Americans are increasingly aggravated at political leaders whose actions have contributed to the current situation.
Back in March, I took a short trip for a few hours. When I left Virginia Beach, the price of gas per gallon at the station by us was $3.79. But when I got back about 5 hours later, the price jumped to $3.99. And then the price jumped again to $4.15 per gallon just a day later.
Now here we are in early June and the average price per gallon is nearly $4.70 nation-wide (and rising). Folks are hurting from this. And it only seem like the price will continue to climb.
Why Are Gas Prices Shooting Up So Quickly?
Why this is happening is complicated. Yes, the recent invasion of Ukraine and international isolation of Russia is playing a part. But it’s more than just that. Supply chain issues from societal shutdown still remain. Businesses are having a hard time finding applicants to fill open positions.
On top of that, we are coming out of the winter months, and people tend to travel more. That puts upward pressure on prices every single year, and this year will likely be no exception.
And, perhaps most problematic domestically, the Biden administration has used executive orders to halt new oil and gas exploration and drilling. If the supply is being artificially suppressed, but the demand remains the same, the price will shoot up until there is a balance between supply and demand.
That point of balance seems to be nowhere in sight. In the meantime, we have to deal with the way the prices are now. If you’re as concerned about things as I am, here are my five tips for saving some money at the pump.
1. Use GasBuddy to Search for the Best Gas Prices
I know there is a Wawa a tenth of a mile away. It’s so easy to just pull in on the way out of your neighborhood and be on your way. But the price there is 20 cents higher than other stations. We’re not at a point where we can be so lackadaisical about where we fill up our gas tanks.
Fortunately, there are solutions to see where the best prices are. I am a big fan of the GasBuddy app and have used it for years. You can put in your zip code and search the area for prices. Other GasBuddy users report prices, and most of the time what is on the app will be accurate.
Of course, with the way things are now, it’s moving so fast that even the updates every few hours are becoming insufficient. In addition to the app, there is also the GasBuddy rewards program that helps you save per gallon. Pay with GasBuddy acts like a debit card that is linked to your checking account. Use this card to pay for your gas and you can receive several cents off each gallon, including up to 25 cents per gallon when you sign up.
2. Change Your Driving Style
Perhaps you like to put the pedal to the metal, hear that engine roar, and feel the suction toward the back of your seat. But all that aggressive driving kills your fuel efficiency. That’s especially so for drivers with SUVs and trucks.
Instead of jack-rabbit starts, do a slow and easy acceleration up to your desired driving speed. Where you can, coast toward your next stop, like a traffic light or stop sign. If you are on the highway, find a driver in front of you and use the draft from their car to remove some of the air resistance for your car.
As much as possible, try to avoid stop-and-go driving. This means lights and stop signs. Obviously, we can’t always avoid it, especially in more populated areas. But if you have two ways of getting from point A to point B, the one with fewer stops means less deceleration and acceleration, and thus greater fuel economy.
3. Consolidate Trips
If you have multiple things that need to be done, try to find chunks of time in which you can do your errands. When you do a lot of start-and-stop driving and are frequently turning your car on and off, and do so more times than are otherwise necessary, all of that transition involves greater fuel consumption.
But if, instead, you do all of your trips at one time, you don’t have to be leaving your home as frequently and using all that gas. Let’s say you have to do grocery shopping, dry cleaning, shipping, and taking the kids to school.
By preparing for all of these trips at once, you avoid returning home, only to start up your car again, drive over the same roads you just passed over before, to go to those same places you drove past earlier that day.
Especially with gas prices going up by the day, those daily trips can really do a number on your gas bill.
4. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
You may not think it, but your tire pressure affects how well your car operates. In addition to being your connection to the ground, your tires also can make your engine work more or less hard depending on how the tires are inflated.
Low tire pressure leads to more of the tire rubber on the pavement. With more material on the road, that means more friction, and therefore more energy to overcome it.
As seasons change, it is important to check your tire pressure to keep them inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications. In seasons like fall and spring, there can be significant temperature fluctuations. A 10-degree drop can lead to a drop of 1 psi.
Check your tire pressure frequently, even if your TPMS sensor is not yet alerting you. With gas prices hitting $4.00 and above, every little bit of savings will count. Not to mention, you will also have better tire life, as the tread will wear according to its design for maximum life.
5. Use Fuel Additives to Increase Efficiency
I frequently use certain fuel additives to keep the inside of my engine clean. If your engine is dirty and full of carbon deposits, it has to work harder to get the job done. That means more fuel consumption. But to help your engine run more efficiently, you don’t have to opt for even higher gas prices to get the 91 or 93 octanes.
Two products that are great for keeping your engine in good working order are SeaFoam Motor Treatment and Lucas Fuel Injector Cleaner. For the SeaFoam, you can place it directly into your gas tank, as well as directly into the engine where you check the oil. The Lucas Fuel Injector Cleaner is put directly into your gas tank, as well.
Products like these clear out carbon deposits and other buildup that make your engine work harder. SeaFoam goes for about $7.00 per can or so at Wal-Mart, and the Lucas Fuel Injector Cleaner is around $4.00. I try to put one or the other in every 1,000 miles or so.
Final Thoughts on These (Absurd) Gas Prices
I don’t know when gas prices will slow down or come back down. But for now, they’re getting higher than Snoop Dog and we have to make do.
What other ideas do you have to save at the pump? Let me know in the comments below!
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