Editor’s Note: This piece is part of an ongoing series called “Get It for Less” that will appear every week on MainStreet, so check back for more shopping tips on your favorite products.
NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Gas prices are steadily on the rise, as skyrocketing crude oil prices have pushed the price of a gallon of regular gas to $3.58, up 20 cents from a month ago. If you’re a commuter who’s feeling the sting of these rising prices, here are a few tips for spending less on gas.
Find the Cheapest Station
Usually when you see two or more gas stations in the same general area, their prices will be very similar – they know people are going to shop around, so they can’t afford to be more than few cents pricier than the station across the street. If it’s a difference of just 2 or 3 cents per gallon, you’re talking about less than a dollar difference for the whole tank of gas in most cars.
But Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for car site Edmunds.com, says stations in different parts of town can have very different prices, so it pays to shop around.
“There is a big variance in different parts off the city, and it can be as high as 10 to 20 cents,” he says, adding that differences in pricing don’t tend to follow socioeconomic boundaries.
So how do you find out which parts of town have the cheapest gas? Reed recommends using a site such as GasBuddy, which tracks gas prices at stations in your area and has a free iPhone app. He does note, though, that driving far out of your way to get cheaper gas is probably counterproductive, so your best bet may be to just keep track of the stations that are along your commuting route and take note of which have the cheapest gas.
Fill It Up With Regular, Please
Do you have a tendency to treat your car to premium gasoline at the pump? If so, you’re probably wasting money.
“There are a lot of cars that recommend premium gas, but they would run just fine on regular,” Reed says. “If premium is required, then you have to put it in, but ‘recommended’ is the key word.”
High-octane premium gas was initially created to help keep your engine from “knocking” (a misfiring in the engine that can cause a pinging sound and possible engine damage), and also contains additives that keep your fuel lines clean. But modern cars have knock sensors in place, and regular fuel has improved to the point where it keeps your engine running clean on its own.
We should reiterate, though, that if you drive a luxury or otherwise high-performance car that requires premium gas, you should obey the owner’s manual.