Seven tips to gas savings from AAA
Gas tax holiday could help, but price increases might make them less noticeable.
Gas prices are on the rise, but there are ways to dull the sting just a bit.
Meredith Smith, public affairs specialist for the American Automobile Association in Minnesota, shared tips on how to fuel up less often and therefore save gas and money.
- 1. Drive less and use the most fuel efficient vehicle if you have multiple.
"Obviously, if you drive less you're going to be using less gas," Smith said. "That also goes for taking the most fuel efficient vehicle."
- 2. Plan errands and shopping trips to avoid backtracking.
"If you are out and about driving, make sure you plan your route for your errands so it is the most efficient possible," Smith said. "If you're going to the west side of town to get something and there's a grocery store you need to go to over there, it makes sense to do those trips all at once when possible."
- 3. Use phone applications to monitor nearby gas stations to find the best prices.
"Another thing you can be doing is monitoring gas prices through apps like Gas Buddy. Or as you're driving, just pay attention to what the gas prices are in your area," Smith said. "It doesn't necessarily make sense to go way out of your way to get gas prices that are cheaper, but if you're already heading that direction for something else, filling up at the cheapest station makes sense while you're already in the area."
- 4. Use phone applications to earn gas rebates or coupons.
"You can be utilizing things like gas apps to get rewards and discounts," Smith said. "AAA has a partnership with Shell where you can get money back or money off on your gas prices at Shell stations. I know there are many different fuel reward programs out there.
"That might look like shopping at Cub and going to a Holiday or going to Hy-Vee and using their gas stations or Costco, Sam's Club or other big stores like that. Some options are membership based. Some you just enter your phone number," she said.
- 5. Keep your tires inflated and your vehicle maintained for better efficiency.
"We recommend not holding out on vehicle maintenance," Smith said. " If your vehicle is running well and you have good oil and correct fluid levels, that's going to help you save money in the long term both on gas and your vehicle.
"If you're taking care of your vehicle, it's running at its optimum or peak performance and it's going to use fuel as efficiently as possible," she said.
- 6. Drive appropriately for your vehicle.
"There are many factors that play into fuel efficiency; hard acceleration and abrupt stops," Smith said. "If you look in your owner's manual and follow the speed limit, there are some speeds for the freeway that theoretically are more fuel efficient."
- 7. On long trips, use navigation programs with fuel efficiency in mind.
"I believe Google Maps and maybe Apple will tell you the fastest route and the most fuel efficient route," Smith said. "It has to do with how long you're going to be stopping and starting in traffic. There's a lot of little things that play into it."
Smith said these tips are fairly well-known, but many just don't use them.
"There's no reason not to sign up for fuel rewards if it's free for you," Smith said. "It just takes 30 seconds or a couple minutes the first time, but then you have it going forward. Or things like taking the most fuel efficient vehicle. If you think of it, logically it makes sense."
Gas tax holiday
Some motorists hope for federal and state gas tax holidays.
President Joe Biden has been pushing for a three-month suspension of the federal gas tax (18 cents for petroleum and 24 cents for diesel) to lower the cost. Until recently, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Republican leaders were looking at a similar holiday for the state's 28.5 cent gas tax.
Combined, the StarTribune says the savings would amount to approximately $7 for every 15 gallons.
A gas tax holiday could prove less effective than some hope, however. Walz, Republican state legislators and Biden's Democratic colleagues all say the savings would be minimal.
Walz prefers the prospect of sending aid to Minnesotans. Legislators prefer a permanent tax cut. In addition, continuing gas price increases could offset that savings.
"In theory it'll give a reduction upfront. But whether these go through both the state and federal levels, it could be a limited change at the pumps that consumers see," Smith said. "The reduction from the taxes can be quickly offset by the increase in oil prices."
In addition, the president, governor, state and federal legislators mostly agree that a tax holiday can only be temporary, as gasoline taxes are a vital source of funding for roads and bridges.
"It will eventually have to go back up because those taxes pay for very important things in our infrastructure," Smith said. "It's not meant to be a permanent fix."
Regardless, it may be some time before legislators come together to make a decision on a possible tax holiday.
"It has to be approved by Congress, so we really won't have a full picture until that legislation is drafted and passes both the House and Senate," Smith said.
Smith said many factors are currently impacting gas prices. The ongoing war in Ukraine continues to affect gas prices. The United States and other gas producers have gained more demand from countries that formerly bought petroleum products from Russia, but have now stopped imports.
That means more demand for oil from a smaller number of providers, though Russia made up very little of the oil consumed by the United States itself.
Motorists also have their own impact on prices. This time of year, fuel prices typically go up due to summer demand as people travel.
However, fears of global recession have resulted in a small reduction in fuel prices, as people are being more careful with their travel to save for possible hard times. That doesn't mean people are not traveling, though.
"We are still seeing the demand for travel is strong," Smith said. "Instead of canceling all of their trips together, consumers are choosing to take slightly shorter trips, or maybe one less trip for the summer as a whole instead of canceling every single one of them. That is encouraging for the travel market."
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.