10 Ways to Waste Money on Gas

March 9, 2011

Saving money on gas is a nice idea but when you look at the lists of ways you can save money on gas you start to remember why it is that you weren’t so good at it last time gas prices were this high.  Many of the gas savings tips require some form of planning ahead and in our busy lives these are easy to forget or put off until later.

So keep doing these 10 things and you’ll be sure to burn more money than you’d like at the pump. If you get tired of paying more than everyone else for gas, try cutting out one or more of these gas wasting habits and see how it lowers your gas bill.

1) Not planning your trips
Making multiple trips out that could have been combined into one big trip is an easy way to burn through extra gas. If the stores you are shopping at are all in the same direction then you’re doubling up on the miles to and from your house. It may seem like a small amount, but depending on the distance and how consistently you make this mistake you could easily burn through hundreds of dollars per gas every year.

2) Owning a gas guzzler
The easiest way to waste money on gas is to drive a vehicle that chugs gasoline. If you have the option of a vehicle that gets 17 miles per gallon and one that gets 26 miles per gallon that’s an enormous difference. On a 200 mile trip the gas guzzler will use an extra 4 gallons. At $3.35 per gallon that’s $13.40 for that single trip. Choosing a car that sips gas rather than chugs it is one of the easiest ways to not waste money on gas.

3) Neglecting car maintenance
Car maintenance can be expensive. Oil changes, tire rotations, oxygen sensors, and fuel filters can really add up if you stick to a strict maintenance schedule. But avoiding these items keeps your car out of peak condition. Your car’s engine will burn fuel more efficiently – which means better gas mileage – if you maintain a strict schedule for these items.

4) Ignoring tire pressure
Most vehicles need their tires to be inflated in the 32 to 34 PSI range. This keeps the tire at the appropriate size to perform safely. It also keeps them in condition to perform efficiently in miles per gallon. Tire pressure can change drastically if you don’t watch it. Aim to check your pressure at least once per month.

5) Carrying extra weight
Have you added some weight in your trunk to provide better traction during winter? For starters this may or not prove effective. Even if it does help with traction many people will leave that extra weight in the trunk all year long. Adding weight means it takes more power to move your vehicle. More power means more gas burned.

6) Driving above the speed limit
For most vehicles the optimal speed to highest gas mileage is around 55 miles per hour. If you’re driving at the speed limit of 70 miles per hour you’re already above the optimum range. The higher your speed the further down the miles per gallon curve you travel. Plus you’re risking a speeding ticket, and you’re really not getting to your destination that much faster.

7) Paying interest on gas purchases
Many people use a gas credit card to pay for gas purchases to earn points or cash back. That’s all well and good if you pay the bill off every month. However, one slip up and you’ll find yourself paying interest and financing charges on that gas expense. That’s a great way to waste money on gas.

8 ) Driving alone
Sharing the drive into work with another person could cut your commuting fuel costs in half.  Not only that, if you alternate who drives, it can make your car last longer as well. Of course carpooling is a hassle and it’s no fun having to wait on the other person when they’re stuck late at work.  However, if gas prices go high enough, ride-sharing might start to sound a lot more attractive.

9) Paying convenient prices
It’s easier to go to the gas station close to your home on your way home from work. But that station may have consistently higher prices than other stations that are still in your area. You can use consumer reporting services like Gas Buddy to see where the cheapest reported price is in your area.

10) Driving aggressively
Aggressive acceleration followed by aggressive braking followed by another round of acceleration is a great way to waste money on gas. By driving more smoothly you’ll increase your miles per gallon and save money over time.



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Kevin Mulligan is a debt reduction champion with a passion for teaching people how to budget and stay out of debt. He's building a personal finance freelance writing career and has written for RothIRA.com, Discover Bank, ING Direct, and many others.

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11 Responses to 10 Ways to Waste Money on Gas

  • Nina

    Awesome post! There’s a lot of good ideas here. One I really never thought of was the “driving alone” point you brought up, which makes perfect sense after you explained it. Plus, lots of places offer special carpool parking, an added bonus! As a gas card user myself, I was interested in seeing your argument about gas rewards cards. I also use gas cards in general (although I’ve been looking for alternatives ex.fleet cards. So I was wondering if you had any suggestions about business alternatives to gas cards that offer help save money?

  • The Fire Finder

    Nice post. I wrote an article about saving money on gas and saving money with apps. But neither one of them had “interest on credit cards”. I didn’t even think about that because I use CC’s at the pump. A good way to reduce that problem is to get prepaid cards for gas. That way you will never have to worry about interest. Thanks for the info.


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