7 Ways to Save on Gasoline

How to start conserving gas and saving money on your commute.

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When thinking about ourselves as egalitarian agents of environmental and climate change, it is too easy to think that your automotive needs take precedence over everyone else's. While you may think you have a special case to drive around in your huge SUV to make the 45-minute commute to work, everyone else on the road feels the same way.

[See 8 Ways to Pay Less at the Pump.]

Most bloggers suggest that you add carpooling or public transportation to your commute to save money on gas and help the environment. While that is the most altruistic advice, there is little chance you will be willing to give up your freedom of the road. Here are some ways you can start conserving gas and saving money on your commute:

Combine trips. One of the most draining things your car does to the gas tank is start up in the morning. By taking the time to get all of the mechanical, electronic, and automatic systems heated and up to speed, your car is not optimizing its fuel use. Instead of stopping at home, make an itinerary before runnning errands. Visit the bank to get cash, Target to buy laundry detergent, then the grocery store last to avoid spoiled food.

Use The right gas. A lot of people think that high-octance gas is better than lower-octane gas because the higher stuff is labeled "premium." Premium is better than regular, right? In reality, octane simply refers to how much the fuel can be compressed before it combusts. High octane means it can be compressed more. Only buy the expensive stuff if your car requires it.

[See 10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget.]

Cash-back credit cards. If you are going to drive yourself to work, buck up and face the reality that a portion of your paycheck will go to the gas station. Many large stations offer their own credit cards for exclusive use at their stations. Big banks also offer their own lines of credit for cash back at the pump and even allow you to use their services no matter which station you choose.

Lose the extra baggage. A couple of lawn chairs, a cooler, and a wet blanket from the Jimmy Buffet concert are still taking up space in your trunk. It's December and you saw him in late July. Whether you like Jimmy Buffet or not, there are probably some unused items clogging up space in your trunk and backseat. Simple physics states that the heavier an object is, the more energy it will take to move it. Clean out your vehicle and save money on gas.

Change your oil. Most people don't consider their oil to play a major factor in fuel conservation. By choosing the correct blend according to your vehicle's owner manual, you can add substance-removing additives to your engine, increase lubrication performance, and reduce the amount of gas you need.

[See 6 Steps to Dig Out of Debt.]

The early bird gets the petro. Most people think that filling up when the weather is cold will give them a savings advantage. While this is half true, barely, it is only part of the story. Gas chains decide to change prices closer to noon than any other time of the day. While the morning may be frosty, the weather has negligible effects on your pump. But getting in before the price change could save you some money.

Purchase gas anywhere. You might think that large oil companies like BP, Shell, and Exxon-Mobile have the highest prices on gas because they can. What most don't realize is that smaller, locally-run stations actually have to charge just as much to stay competitive and not run out of their supply. If you are really looking for a cheap gas fix, turn to websites like GasPriceWatch.com and apps like GasBuddy to find the best deals in your area.

While none of these tips are guaranteed silver bullets to eliminate your pain at the pump, combined, they work like a team to save you trips to the gas station. If you are still unsure about saving money on gas, speak to your dealer or mechanic to find out what methods work best for your vehicle.

Jim Wang writes about personal finance at Bargaineering.com. When he's not tackling money issues, he's usually looking forward to his next vacation and writing about it at Wanderlust Journey.