A month ago, a gallon of unleaded gasoline cost an average of $3.27. Today, it’s $3.73.
OPEC’s decision to cut oil production by 1 million gallons a day triggered this increase. You can’t do anything about that, but you do, believe it or not, have some control over what you pay, because there is a best time to buy gasoline.
In fact, there is a best time of day and a best day of the week.
The best time of the day is the morning, but it may not be why you think, so let’s start by debunking a myth: Gasoline may be more dense during the coldest time of the day, but only barely, so those who say you get more for your money by buying gas then are only barely right. The temperature of gas when it is dispensed varies only slightly, and any extra gas you get by pumping in the morning, when it’s usually coldest, is so small that it’s difficult to measure.
The real reason to buy gasoline in the morning? Gas stations often change prices between 10 a.m. and noon, after checking out the competition’s prices in the morning. And, of course, changing prices these days means they’ll raise prices then, not lower them.
The best day of the week to buy gasoline is Wednesday. If nothing is happening in the world to cause gas prices to be increased, Thursday is the most common day for that to happen. Gas station managers and owners may want to pick the pocket of weekend travelers, and raising prices on Thursday ensures that that will happen.
Before you go, here are some money-saving tips:
1) Make sure your tires have the right pressure.
2) Use the cheaper regular unleaded fuel whenever you can.
3) Avoid idling for more than a minute and making sudden stops and starts.
4) Don’t weigh your car down with things you don’t need, especially rooftop carriers, which can cut your mileage by as much as 15 percent. In a test conducted by Consumer Reports, a rooftop carrier lowered the gas mileage of a Toyota Camry traveling at 65 mph from 35 miles per gallon to 29.
5) Contrary to popular belief, dirty air filters don’t hurt fuel efficiency, at least not on modern engines, which use computers to control the ratio between air and fuel. Even so, air filters do an important job, so don’t let them get dirty.
6) Most people know that opening your car windows while you drive creates an aerodynamic drag that slightly reduces gas mileage, but if you’re traveling at highway speeds, that reduction in gas mileage is the same as if you turn on your air conditioner.
Got any other gas-related tips to share?