Sharon Koehler

Stone Industry Consultant

Arm, Leg or Both
My GetUpside screen,  showing current gas prices and potential savings.

My GetUpside screen, showing current gas prices and potential savings

Whether you’re part of a corporation with a huge fleet of vehicles, a small company with just a few vehicles or an individual driving a 1982 Pontiac Firebird, one thing we can all say is that the price of gas is truly affecting our bottom line. Several news outlets are reporting that gas hasn’t been this high in seven years. The spike in gas is hurting us all in some way. Even if you own an electric or hybrid, you may personally not be feeling pain at the pump, but stores and service providers are – and their prices are going up – which means that a hybrid or electric helps you in one way, but you are losing it in others. So, let’s look at some tips to help us all keep a bit more in our pockets when it comes to gassing up our vehicles.

Change your oil regularly and use the right oil when you get your oil changed.
If you aren’t sure, check your owner’s manual or check with your mechanic. The brand is not as important as getting the right weight. If your car has a lot of miles, consider a high-mileage oil. Also think about looking for an energy saving oil. Synthetic oil is more expensive, but improves gas mileage because it lubricates better. 

Fix your gas cap.
If your gas cap is missing or the seal is worn/cracked and not sealing properly, gas can be evaporating from your tank. At that point you are losing gas out of your tank but you are also polluting the air. 

Join a fuel rewards program. 
Lots of grocery stores and gas chains offer rewards programs. Every company has different rules to go by, but as an example: my local grocery store, when I use my shopping card, gives me one fuel point for every dollar I spend. I can redeem those points at their gas pumps and save 10, 20 or 30 cents a gallon, or more. 

Use a rewards credit card to pay for your gas.
This has nothing to do with the fuel rewards program mentioned above. Use a credit card that gives you cash back on gas purchases. I have a card that gives me 3 percent back on gas purchases. I only use it for gas and I pay the balance every month so my 3 percent back doesn’t get eaten up in interest.  

Join a warehouse club like Sam’s or Costco.
Warehouse clubs are generally five to ten cents cheaper per gallon than a lot of gas stations. You need a membership card and a credit/debit card. No cash allowed. However, don’t join just for gas, as the membership fee may negate your gas savings. 

Clean out your car.
The more the car weighs, the more gas it uses. We all store junk in our trunks or backseats. Trash, sports equipment, tools, etc. add to the weight of the vehicle. Another culprit is the racks on our cars. It’s January in Pueblo, Colorado, not a good time for a bicycle trail ride. Take the rack off your car. It’s 100 degrees in St. Louis, Missouri in August. Chances are you aren’t going snow skiing. Take the rack off your car.

Maintain your vehicle
. Make sure your spark plugs aren’t worn. Improperly firing spark plugs can eat up your fuel by as much as 30 percent. Make sure your tires are operating at the proper pressure. Under- inflated tires can increase gas consumption 3-4 percent. Worn gaskets and seals can cause leaks. Maintaining your vehicle will increase your gas mileage.

Use cruise control when you can
. Maintaining a steady speed increases gas mileage. Admittedly, cruise control cannot be used everywhere, but cruising down the highway is the perfect opportunity. When I travel, I check my miles per gallon and it goes up 3-5 .m.p.g when I use cruise control on the highway. 

Fill up earlier rather than later.
This applies on two different levels. On one level, GasBuddy did a survey and found that generally, gas prices are lower at the beginning of the week than at the end of the week. So, it’s better to fill up on Mondays or Tuesdays instead of Fridays or Saturdays. On another level, you shouldn’t wait until you are on empty to fill up. Waiting until you are desperate for gas takes away the option to hunt for a lower price on gas. Gas right off the highway or in the middle of the city tends to be higher. Leave yourself with options.

Reduce your idle time.
Idling can cost you half a gallon of gas an hour. That doesn’t sound like much but think about all the idling you do in a day… stop lights, drive throughs, traffic jams, rush hour, and of course, the ever-popular car warm-up on a cold morning. Newer cars do not require warm-up time, but if you do, try to keep it to a minimum – 10 minutes or less. If you are stuck in an accident on the highway and traffic is stopped dead, turn your car off.

Use a gas app to find the best prices.
There are a couple of different types. GasBuddy will show you prices at stations in your area so you can choose where you want to go. There are other apps like GetUpside that pay you cash back to buy gas. You can get money back either by gift card, PayPal or direct into your account. I usually cash out at $100 but you can cash out anytime you want. I have gotten Lowe’s, Amazon and other gift cards using this app. (I saved for a new TV at Walmart this way) In some areas you can get cash back in stores and restaurants, as well. 

There are other things you can do like ride sharing or planning your most efficient route for errands and appointments. You can drive easy, which means put your lead foot away so you accelerate and brake more evenly, and you will also drive a bit slower, so you use less gas. A lead foot is the enemy of higher gas mileage.

Hopefully gas prices will fall again soon, but in the meantime we can all do some things that help limit how much damage is done to our bottom line. 

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at