High gas prices!
You hear it at the airport, waiting for spectators to leave events, or at the coffee shops and restaurants where rideshare and food delivery drivers congregate. After hitting record-breaking levels, gasoline prices started inching downward and then went back up. According to the American Automobile Association, the current national average is $3.944 a gallon. In California, expect to pay $6.246.
But as a gig driver, these are costs that you have to incur since this is how you make your living.
You can do things, however, to eke out an extra mile or two at the pump or on the road. In this post, we will cover how to save money on gas. Topics include
- behind the wheel and at the pump
- things you can do behind the wheel to increase mileage
- things you can do at the gas pump to save money
- download the Gridwise app
Behind the wheel and at the pump
There are two areas where you can save money on fuel costs. The first is behind the wheel. Short of buying an electric car, the tips that increase mileage will get you only so far, but everything helps. Changing your driving habits is a significant part of saving fuel.
The second is changing your habits at the pump.
Things you can do behind the wheel to increase mileage
- Slow down
According to MotorBiscuit.com, breaking the habit of sudden acceleration and deceleration can increase mileage by as much as 30%. Don’t be a lead foot. It is also safer for you and your passengers and keeps you from getting bad ratings because folks don’t like your driving.
Here is another alarming factoid from Motor Biscuit: for every five miles an hour over 50 mph that you drive, it’s like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon of gas. Aerodynamics is your friend to a certain point, but then it starts to work against you.
- Check your tire pressure
According to the Department of Energy, for every pound per square inch your car tires are underinflated, you lose 0.2% in mileage. Check those tires regularly. There is also a belief that overinflating your tires by a couple of pounds gets you additional mileage because there is less surface contact between the tires and the road. According to a test conducted by Popular Mechanics, overinflation to improve mileage is a myth. The best thing you can do is keep your tires inflated to factory specifications. You can find those numbers on the tire sidewalls, in the owner’s manual, or on a plate mounted to the side post of most cars. Open the driver’s door from the outside, look down and to the right, and there it is.
- Adopt the ten-second rule of idling, or shift to neutral
Okay, fess up. How many of you food delivery drivers let the car idle in park while you drop off an order? Likewise, how many of you rideshare drivers idle your car in gear while waiting for passengers? Too many. According to the Geico insurance website, letting your car idle excessively consumes as much as a quarter to half a gallon per hour. Restarting the engine only consumes about ten seconds’ worth of gas. Whenever you can do so, turn the engine off. If you are still in the car, at least put it in park or idle, which consumes less fuel.
- Make sure the gas cap is on tight and works properly
Lauren Fix of Car Coach reports, “About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose, or missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.” Make sure your gas cap is on tight and in good condition. Most new cars operate on a sealed system, and a loose gas cap is a problem for that system.
- Use the right motor oil, and change it on schedule
Friction is the enemy of efficiency in your car’s engine. To combat that friction, automotive designers ensure that all moving parts are well-lubricated. You can do your part by changing the oil regularly and using the correct engine oil. If the manual says 30-weight oil, use 30-weight oil, regardless of what your brother-in-law says. Many newer cars use synthetic oil, which is two or three times more expensive, but that’s what you signed up for when you purchased the car. Besides, synthetic oil is good for your car and good for mileage.
Changing your oil on schedule is another priority. If you neglect to change your oil, it thickens and turns to sludge, reducing its ability to circulate throughout the engine and provide lubrication. In addition to lubrication, oil redistributes heat in the engine. If the oil is not changed regularly, it is not as efficient at moving that heat. You risk damaging gaskets, warping components from excessive heat, and ruining the engine.
- Change the engine air filter on schedule
A gasoline engine operates on the efficient burning of gasoline and oxygen. Your car pulls air (with oxygen) through the under-the-hood air filter and into the engine. A dirty air filter means the engine must work harder to get air into the combustion chamber. The harder your engine works, the less fuel efficient it is, and eventually it will stop running. Check out What Will Happen If I Don’t Change My Car’s Air Filter? on The Newswheel website.
- Keep your windows rolled up when you drive
You like the feel of the wind on your face, but open windows in your car mean more wind turbulence and resistance, again causing the engine to work harder. For maximum fuel efficiency, keep the windows rolled up.
- Take off the ski or surfboard racks from your car
You have a bumper sticker on your car that reads, “I’d rather be skiing.” Those racks on the roof of your car are a status symbol, letting everyone know that you are a gig driver, so you have the flexibility to bomb the slopes or shred the waves whenever you want. The reality, though, is that those racks cause wind resistance, reducing the aerodynamics of your car and affecting your mileage. Keep those racks in the garage where they belong.
Things you can do at the gas pump
- Track your mileage
By tracking your mileage (we mean with an app and a calculator) you see what works and what doesn’t. If you are the obsessive-compulsive type (and today’s gas prices will make you that way), monitoring your mileage transforms you into a mileage maniac, testing new ways to conserve gas. Keep records.
- Don’t top off the gas tank
While attempting to pump every ounce possible into your tank, you spill gas. That’s just throwing money away. In some cars, repeated overfilling can damage emissions components, making your car run less efficiently. “Gasoline needs room to expand, your tank needs extra room for that expansion,” explains an article on Automoblog.net. “If you try to top off, the extra gas you’re trying to add may actually evaporate into your vehicle’s vapor collection system. This can ruin the mechanism, making it work improperly, and cause your car to run less efficiently.”
- Fuel up in the morning
If you really want to ensure that you get all the gas in your tank that you can and do it safely, fuel up in the morning while it is still cool. The liquid expands as it gets warmer in your tank. Besides, many gas stations change their prices mid-morning after they have figured out what the competition is charging.
- Fuel up on a schedule
It is best to fuel up before you start your gig activity. We all have a favorite gas station with lower prices than other stations. With a full tank, you won’t get caught up in the heat of accepting passengers or delivering food, only to realize at the last minute that you need to gas up and are forced to stop at the first station you see, which could cost you more.
Download the Gridwise app
Last, but not least – downloading the Gridwise app might be the best thing you can do to save on gas as a gig driver. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can sign up for Gridwise Gas and save up to $50/month on gas.
There’s also other ways to minimize gas costs, like using Gridwise to know when and where to drive so you don’t waste gas waiting for trips. Gridwise has other features, including information on peak times for arrivals and departures at the airports and special events such as concerts and sporting events. These features mean you can drive with a purpose and a goal in mind rather than just aimlessly waiting for the rideshare or food delivery app to find you a passenger or a meal to be delivered.