Despite the end of the cyberattack on one of the largest fuel pipeline operators on the east coast, Colonial Pipeline, gas prices in Virginia remain stubbornly high. Virginians are joining other states, ready to get out of the house and start traveling again. The summer driving season is underway. Additionally, economic conditions are right for a growth in demand. What does it all mean? Gas prices are about $1.11/gallon higher than this time a year ago in Virginia and likely won't be falling anytime soon.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to save gas. We've done the research for you, so check out ten ways to save some cash this summer on Virginia roads. When you put all our tips together, you should be able to put a nice dent in that gas budget over time.
10 Ways to Save Money on Gas in Virginia
1. Change your routine.
Most people like to do what they know. Is there a certain gas station dependably on the route that you frequently use? Or maybe you like their coffee? It's part of your routine. If it's worth it to you, you may be able to save significantly by leaving your comfort zone and paying attention to prices in other locations in your travels, especially just outside of your Virginia community.
2. Speaking of coffee...
The truth is most of the gas stations in the same Virginia community are relatively close in price. It's called competition. But once you're there buying gas- voilà! You're buying other things too. Look at the building behind the gas pump- it's full of all kinds of goodies. That's a real money maker! If you're treating yourself with every fill-up, your monthly savings can really add up by forgoing those extras.
Be especially aware of the outrageous mark-up on things like oil and windshield wiper fluid. Put them on your regular shopping list for Walmart or Target, and you won't overpay next time.
3. Location, location, location
Have you ever noticed how gas is really expensive right off the highway exit? It's all about convenience. Maybe two stations are close by one another with different prices on different sides of the road, one heading out of town and the other heading in. And it's tough to cross the street or impossible without making a U-turn because there's a dividing strip or no intersection. Gas retailers know people are willing to pay a few extra bucks for the path of least resistance.
Likewise, gas prices are always higher in NOVA, closer to D.C., Richmond, and other major Virginia cities. Sometimes you can't get around buying gas at a convenient location, but if you plan ahead, you can fill up somewhere a little more off the beaten path and save. Try not to wait until your low gas indicator light is on, leaving you with fewer options-it's better for your car anyway. Start planning to fill up at 1/2 tank to no less than a 1/4 tank at the station with the best prices.
4. Use a gas app.
You use your phone for everything else. Why not use it to find the best price for gas in your area? Gas Buddy, Gas Guru, and Waze are a couple of free crowdsourced apps that find the cheapest gas prices near you, along your travel route, and even provide directions to them. They also may provide rewards and "deal alerts" for extra savings so turn on your notifications.
Gasbuddy app menu and list price.
5. Use loyalty programs.
Can't be bothered to check an app? Most major gas station brands now have loyalty programs. You can earn points and gas-saving rewards. The membership stores essentially do the same thing and can save up more than $.05 a gallon. Be prepared for lines during prime shopping hours and on the weekends.
Some credit cards offer discounts when you use them to buy gas, but they will not save you money in the long run if you're not paying that balance off every month.
6. Check your tire pressure.
Did you know underinflated tires can reduce your gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 PSI drop in the average pressure of all tires? What's better is you can improve your gas mileage up to 3% by keeping your tires properly inflated. It adds up!
Check your tires monthly as part of regular maintenance and even more during abrupt temperature changes, and add air to your tires as needed. And don't bother to over-inflate them to try for even better gas mileage. It doesn't work the opposite way and can prematurely wear your tire tread and make dangerous handling on the road at highway speeds.
7. Buy Gas on Monday, not on Sunday.
According to data collected in 2019 by GasBuddy, Monday and Tuesday are the best and cheapest days to buy gas in Virginia. As the week progresses, excitement builds and plans are made. Virginians are preparing and filling up their tanks for travel, errands, and shopping, and socializing. Gas retailers raise their prices and lines get longer. Weekends are a bad time to buy gas in the commonwealth, and Sundays are the worst of all in the commonwealth.
8. Slow down and cruise.
Cruise control is your friend for interstate driving and road trip travel. Sudden acceleration, hard braking, and speeding aren't just bad for your car insurance rates but also take a substantial toll on your fuel economy. That's not a license to be a left-lane slowpoke, but don't be a highway speed demon either. Unless you need to pass, get in the right lane and set your speed. It's a whole lot less stressful and you'll still get there on time.
9. Travel smart.
During peaks of heavy holiday travel traffic, the Virginia Department of Transportation has plenty of tools to help you avoid gas-guzzling traffic jams. You can start by checking into past traffic trend maps to avoid the busiest travel times. VDOT also always has real-time highway cameras for viewing current road conditions and traffic alerts, or you can call 511.
Save time on tolls and utilize express lanes by having your EZPass loaded and ready to go. It will come in handy throughout Virginia and outside the state north through Maine and Florida. Gasbuddy also has a nifty trip cost calculator so you can budget gas for a road trip.
Keep Virginia's four new driving laws in mind while driving to avoid costly fines and the hassle of getting pulled over. If you're using that gas app, remember Virginia's new hands-free driving law and pull over.
10. Don't buy premium gas. (Unless you have to.)
Unless you have a super-duper fancy car that says it requires premium fuel in the manual, buying regular gas is a great way to save significantly. You'll notice a savings of up to $0.60 a gallon with regular gas and most likely no difference when it comes to your car's driving performance.
Besides saving money on gas, we have the intel on smart ways to reduce your car insurance rates. We can also tell you whether or not cheap car insurance is worth it. If you need us, remember you have 24/7 Roadside Assistance with your NNINS car insurance policy. Have safe travels and let us know if you need us. We're close by and ready to help!