Skip to Content

62 Gas Savings Tips: Doordash, Uber Eats, Uber, Lyft, Instacart Drivers etc

As I write this, gas prices have gone crazy.

There are a lot of reasons. Part of the immediate problem as I write this is the ban on Russian oil in response to their invasion of Ukraine.

As delivery drivers and rideshare drivers in the gig economy who rely on our cars to earn money, we have far more drive time than the usual driver. The increase in gas prices hits us hard.

Is it still worth it to deliver for Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Instacart and others? Does it make sense still to keep delivering as Uber or Lyft drivers? What do we do when our biggest cost of doing business is skyrocketing?

My first piece of advice is, step back and look at the bigger picture. A one dollar increase in the price of gas is still only 4 cents a mile for the average driver. Forbes reports the average Uber trip is 5.4 miles, and I know my average delivery trip is even shorter.

That means a dollar increase is still only about 20 cents more per trip or delivery. Looking at it this way, this is not an insurmountable problem.

Even still, if you do hundreds of deliveries or rides a month, that 20 cents a pop adds up. We really feel that pop when we fill up and pay so much more.

So what can we do to keep this change in gas prices from derailing our independent contractor businesses? We're taking a deep dive here to find several strategies to help you manage this increase in prices.

A man in a business suit holding a gas nozzle up to his head like he's ready to shoot himself with it.

62 Strategies to help you manage fuel prices as an independent contractor in delivery or rideshare.

We came up with an exensive list of strategies you can use.

Many may not be for you. In fact, some of these directly contradict one another.

For that reason, the best thing to do here is to look at the big picture. One strategy may save some cost, but using it could cost you more than you save.

The most important rule to remember when saving money on gas is this: The goal here isn't to save money. The real goal is to have the most money left in our pocket when it is all said and done.

The goal here isn't to save money. The real goal is to have the most money in our pocket when it is all said and done.

The EntreCourier's most important rule for managing rising fuel costs

Balance these tips and measure them to figure out whether it brings more money into your pocket or costs you from earning money.

For that reason, I'll just list all 63 of these ideas and tips. Pay special attention to the last several, as that's where we get into a lot of reasons that some of the earlier ones may not be the best.

In the end, you're the one to make the decision on which ones make sense for you.

Ultimately, these tips come down to four simple rules:

  • Increase your fuel efficiency. You might be surprised how many things you can do to cut your fuel consumption and increase your gas mileage.
  • Take advantage of fuel saving opportunities.
  • Be more efficient in your rides and deliveries.
  • Keep things in perspective. It's easy to go too far with some of these ideas, to the point where you could spend money or lose money by taking them too far.

Increase fuel efficiency

It's kind of amazing how many things you can do to make sure you're getting the best fuel economy possible out of your car.

Everyone is different and every vehicle is different. High gas prices hit me harder with my 20 mpg SUV than they do in your Prius. They hit the driver who pays $6 or more in California per gallon than the one who can still get it for $3.50.

That's why I'm going to rely on national averages in this article. At this moment, the national average is right around $4 per gallon. The average car gets about 25 miles per gallon and a typical gas tank holds about 15 gallons of gas. We'll use these averages when we talk about how much someone might save with certain strategies.

Let's dive in!

1. Keep your tire pressure at the right level.

Image of a standard tire pressure warning icon.

If your tires are not properly filled, it can create greater rolling resistance. The federal government claims that a 5 pound difference in PSI can reduce fuel economy by 2%. At $4.00 per gallon, that's about 8¢/gallon extra you pay if you don't have the right tire pressure.

2. Think twice about driving in the cold.

Illustration of a front facing profile of a car with snow on it and snowflakes falling.

According to Fueleconomy.gov, a car gets about 15% lower fuel economy in 20 degree (F) weather than at 77 degrees. That means a typical car will get about 56 miles further in warmer weather on a 15 gallon tank of gas.

Tire pressure drops, oil and fluids are less efficient at lower temps, the electrical system works harder, and cold air is more resistant to the movement of your car.

3. Don't warm your car up so long

illustration of a car warming up in cold weather.

Folks in my generation grew up in the days when you had to run your car for awhile before starting out. Cold starts were bad and warm engines were more necessary, especially in a carburated fuel system.

Modern engines, however, don't need that. You can generally start driving safely after running for 30 seconds of warming up. Your car warms up quicker while driving than while idling.

Consumer reports ran a test on a Buick Lucerne finding it used .12 gallons when idling only ten minutes. At $4.00/gallon, that's .48 burned unnecessarily.

4. Shut your car off between trips.

Illustration of a Start/Stop button in a car.

The same thing applies to leaving your car running while taking food up to the customer's door, or while waiting between orders. Don't be that delivery person who leaves their car running while they wait inside the restaurant and then complains about how gas prices make it impossible to make a living.

5. Accelerate gradually.

Car accelerating concept illustrated by drawing of a car speedometer with motion lines making it look like it's moving to the right.

You ever get that urge to race the guy in the lane next to you? Stomping on the gas pedal the moment the red light turns green can get pretty expensive.

In the gig economy world, there's a lot of stop and start driving. You drive to pick up, then drive to drop off. Not to mention all the stop and go driving that's just a given in urban areas Hard acceleration and aggressive driving can cost us even more fuel than the average driver.

The AAA Auto club states that jackrabbit starts can decrease fuel efficiency by 10-40% for in town driving. A 10% drop in efficiency costs you about $35 per tank of gas at $4 per gallon.

6. Stop even more gradually.

Illustration of a foot stepping on a brake pedal.

I tease a couple of my kids about how they accelerate into their stops. I think they feel like they'll get there quicker if we keep our feet on the gas until we absolutely have to stop, even if it's at a red light.

When you think about the energy it takes to get your car started, hard braking wastes a lot of that. You didn't get as far as you could for how hard your engine worked. Sometimes it's better to ease or coast into a stop sign or traffic light that has gone (or is turning) red.

7. Coast whenever appropriate.

Line drawing of a car on down slope of a triangle to illustrate a car coasting downhill.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is take your foot off the gas and let the momentum get you there. This is especially true when coming to a stop. There may be times, especially going downhill, where it's better to just let physics get you there.

8. Keep your filters up to date.

Line drawing of an oil filter.

When I was in college, I had just bought a little 4 cylinder Opel. I went out on my first trip expecting great gas mileage. One hundred miles into the trip, I filled up and found I was getting only 11 miles to the gallon.

I freaked out because I didn't have enough money to pay for gas for the entire trip at that pace. I checked the engine looking for oil leaks. Somewhere in my freaked-outedness I forgot to put the air filter back in.

My gas mileage suddenly doubled. It turns out that the filter was so clogged that my engine was sucking in more gas than air.

That was an extreme example. However, your engine depends on an efficient flow of air and fuel, and the air and fuel filters are two of the best ways to ensure that.

9. Reduce aerodynamic drag.

Aerodynamics concept illustrated by forward moving arrows bending around a central object.

Do you have roof racks or other things that create wind resistance? Remove them if possible. Bad aerodynamics create more wind resistance, making your engine work harder to get you where you're going.

10. Reduce your speed.

Drawing of a diamond shape road sign that says Slow.

Studies have shown that reducing speeds from 65 miles per hour to 55 mph can save 10% on your gas mileage. That can mean getting 35 miles fewer for a typical tank of gas.

Even at low speeds, how fast you go makes a difference. As delivery and rideshare drivers we tend to have a lot more short trips and and less likely at highway speeds. However, appropriate speeds for the conditions still make a difference.

11. Keep up on regular maintenance of your car.

Car maintenance concept illustrated by a drawing of a car with a wrench and gears in the background.

Oil and fluids help reduce the resistance to the moving parts in your engine. If not maintained and changed at the right intervals, your engine has to work harder, using more fuel in the process.

Pay attention to the maintenance schedules. When we put a lot of miles on our cars, we need to perform oil changes and other routine maintenance far more frequently. While tune ups and changing spark plugs aren't needed as frequently as in the older days, staying current is an efficient way to burn less fuel.

12. Rotate your tires regularly.

Tire rotation concept illustrated by drawing of four tires on a frame with arrows pointing to where the tires would be rotated to.

Another way to put this is, drive with good tires. Better tread on your car tires means the car rolls more efficiently. Rotating tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles will help you get the best life out of the tread on your tires.

13. Eliminate unnecessary weight

Car weight illustrated by a line drawing of a car sitting on a scale.

Sometimes it's tempting to keep stuff in the back of your car. That extra weight can make your engine work harder and create greater resistance to how it moves. The EPA says that every 100 pounds can make a 1 to 2 percent difference in fuel economy.

That comes out to roughly a dollar per tank of gas per extra 100 pounds. Heavy loads make a difference.

Unfortunately, my car doesn't have a driverless feature build in, so some weight is still needed.

14. Use cruise control where appropriate.

Cruise control symbol with an arrow pointing at a set point on a speedometer.

Keeping your car at a constant speed for reasonable periods of time is much more efficient. It can make a 5 to 7% difference in fuel economy.

Unfortunately, that may not be helpful as often to many of us in delivery or rideshare. We do a lot of city driving and less often get to the higher speeds where this helps. However, you can always be on the alert for those trips where it makes sense and do your best to keep steady speeds when cruise control isn't the best option.

15. Keep your car in higher gear as often as makes sense.

Shifting gears as illustrated by a drawing of a gear selector in an automatic transmission.

When you're in a higher gear, your car goes further with each turn of the engine. Obviously lower gears are needed when starting out from a dead stop. However at normal speeds, lower gears can mean greater engine resistance, not letting you get as far for the energy used by your car.

Obviously if you have an automatic transmission, you may not be thinking about that as much. It's still something to keep in mind if you do tend to manually downshift.

Once upon a time, a manual transmission automatically had better fuel economy. However, newer transmissions tend to shift more efficiently and at just the right times.

16. Reduce your dependence on Air Conditioning when possible.

Air conditioning concept illustrated by drawings of blue whisps of cold air.

Your Air conditioner creates a big demand on your car's electrical system. In very hot weather, it can make a 25% difference in fuel economy on conventional vehicles, and even more on hybrids and electrical vehicles, according to the EPA.

17. Drive a fuel efficient vehicle.

Electric vehicle concept illustrated by a green line drawing of a car with a an electrical cord

A good hybrid is going to go twice as far as my Chevy Equinox for the same amount of gas. If all other things are equal, it obviously makes sense to opt for good fuel economy wherever possible. A hybrid or electric vehicle is more likely to also have fuel efficient features like regenerative braking.

Even with more traditional engine types, the engine size makes a difference in how much fuel you burn. If you have a choice of which vehicle to use, the cost of gas may be a good reason to go with the smaller one for a time.

18. Shut down your engine at long stops.

Turning off the car illustrated by drawing of an ignition switch and a key that is outside the switch.

If you get stuck at a long light, waiting for a train or in a drive through, shutting your engine down until you need to move forward can save a lot of gas. A lot of modern cars do this automatically. Efficient fuel injection systems use far less gas starting up than when they idle.

19. Avoid the drive throughs wherever possible.

Staying away from the drivethrough illustrated by drawings of a car, a store, and a red circle with a slash over them.

This is especially true for meal delivery. Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and others have a lot of fast food restaurants with drive through lanes. If you have the option to shut your car down and go into the store to pick up the food order, it may make more sense to do that than wait in longer drive through lines.

20. Avoid driving around looking for parking.

A full parking lot illustrated by line drawings of several parking spaces filled with cars.

This may seem easier said than done if you're delivering downtown. Get to know the areas where you deliver and become familiar with parking spots. Sometimes it's faster and far more efficient to grab the first parking spot you can find rather than taking the chance of circling the blocks looking for a spot.

21. Park in the shade in the summer.

Parking in the shade illustrated by line drawings of a parking shelter with two cars parked underneath it.

If you're parking to pick up or drop off food for delivery, or parking while waiting for orders on rideshare or delivery, try to find a shady place to park. This can help keep your car from heating up so much and make less demand on your air conditioning.

22. Use windshield shades on sunny days.

Using a foldable windshield reflective cover can make a huge difference in how hot it gets in your car during the summer. Appropriate levels of window tinting can do so as well. This reduces how hard your A/C has to work to cool things off.

22. Park into the sun in the winter.

A car with shades: a drawing of a smiling car wearing sunglasses.

If possible, park with the windshield facing the sun in the winter. This can help prevent your windshield from frosting over and keep the inside of your car warmer when the engine is off.

Heat is different from Air Conditioning in that when your car is running, it doesn't take any extra energy to produce the heat. The heat from your engine takes care of that. However, directing the heat with the fan does use energy.

23. Look for opportunities to park facing downhill.

line drawing of a car parked on a hill with a sign showing a 15% grade.

If you have opportunities to park on a downhill slope, gravity can assist your car getting started from a stop.

24. Keep snow brushed off your car in the winter.

Line drawing of a car with large piles of snow on it and snowflakes falling.

Accumulating snow can create more aerodynamic drag or wind resistance as you drive. Completely brushing the snow off can improve aerodynamics.

25. Turn on the A/C and roll up the windows

Keeping the windows up as illustrated by a drawing of a car door with arrows pointing up and down.

Opening the windows of your car can create more wind resistance which reduces your car's efficiency. Keeping the air conditioning running with the windows up is generally more efficient than no A/C with windows down. This is especially true at 40 mph or higher.

26. Turn off the Air Conditioning and roll down the windows.

Driving with the windows open illustrated by a drawing of a dog hanging its head out the window.

For stop and go driving in town, many of the same studies found that the drag from open windows was low enough at slower speeds that driving with the air conditioner off and opening the windows was the more efficient course of action.

27. Three right turns may be better than a left.

Drawing of a diamond shaped road sign with a Right turn.

The United Parcel Service is famous for their drivers rarely taking left turns. They found over the years that taking a series of right turns was far more efficient than waiting for a left turn opportunity. In fact, they've invested heavily in software that helps drivers find efficient routes.

Look for ways you can avoid longer waits at stop lights or crossing intersections and you can significantly reduce the amount of gas you use.

28. Choose the right gas for your vehicle.

Picture of a gas station sign with several price levels, for Unleaded, Premium, Mid-Grade and Diesel.

If your car requires premium gas, use it. The issues caused by using the wrong gas can cost more than what you save in fuel prices. If your car does NOT require a higher level of gas, using a higher octane gas rarely offers any benefit..

29. Monitor your driving.

There are several ways to do so. Many of the newer vehicles display your fuel efficiency as you drive. You can do simple calculations of your gas mileage when you fill up at the gas pump. Your insurance company may have a tracking program that can give you feedback on things like quick starts and stops, sudden turns, and other things that could reduce fuel efficiency.

GasBuddy has a feature in their app that can give you suggestions about how you can improve efficiency. You can see more in #32.

30. Get the right gas cap and use it properly

Picture of a typical gas cap that has instructions to seal with three clicks.

An important part of fuel efficiency is how well the gas can flow into your car engine. Vehicle manufacturers design their systems right down how well the gas cap seals off air flow into the tank. Make sure your cap meets manufacturer specifications and that you follow instructions on how to tighten the cap.

Not tightening enough or over-tightening can both reduce your fuel efficiency. Many newer cars have a capless system that regulates the seal in other ways. If yours is not one of those systems, pay attention to how you're sealing up your gas tank.

Take advantage of fuel saving opportunities

There are a lot of programs out there that can help you cut down the cost of fuel.

The drawback is, most of these really only give you pennies on the dollar, if that. Many of them are not all they're cracked up to be. However, at certain times in certain places, they can knock a little bit off the cost of your gas.

There are some apps that we'll talk about. One thing I should warn here is, there are some significant privacy concerns with how some will sell your data. Read the privacy policies and only proceed if you are comfortable.

31. Use GetUpside

Earn up to 25¢/gal cash back every day!

GetUpside is recommended by a lot of content creators, because they've got an attractive referral program. In fact I've hardly seen a bad review. To date I think my review of GetUpside is the most critical I've seen out there.

GetUpside is not a gas savings app. It's a cash back app. You pay full price at participating gas stations and after a few days GetUpside may provide some cash back. Despite the issues, depending on where you are and when you are there, you may find some savings with GetUpside.

Despite all of its issues, I still use GetUpside occasionally. You'll get some decent savings at least the first time you use the app. You can also get additional savings if someone uses your referral code. My affiliate link is here for GetUpside.

32. Find the best prices with Gas Buddy

GasBuddy logo.

Another popular app is the GasBuddy app. GasBuddy does a better job of displaying current gas prices at a wider array of gas stations than what you can see with GetUpside.

GasBuddy does offer some gas savings through their payment card. You can get a Wex fleet card attached to your bank account. Unlike GetUpside, you're not limited to just the stations that have partnered with GasBuddy. Also, discounts are applied immediately when you pay. However, those discounts are often less than 2%.

33. Buy gas where you buy groceries

Buying gas at a grocery store illustrated by a cartoon of a gas pump next to a grocery store.

A lot of major grocery store chains have fuel savings programs. A typical program will give you a ten cent a gallon discount for every $100 in groceries you buy. Many such stores will let you stack discounts. For instance, my King Soopers card (part of Kroger) will let me save up to $1 per gallon.

34. Subscribe to fuel station loyalty programs

Cartoon image of a billfold full of loyalty cards.

Many gas station chains have their own rewards programs. For instance, Shell Fuel Rewards will typically give you 5¢ per gallon for fuel purchased. If there's a station you use frequently, look into if they have a discount program

35. Join a Membership like Costco or Sam's Club.

Drawing of an icon with a sash wrapped around it that says Member Only.

Costco and Sam's Club often have gas available at a discounted rate for their members. There's usually an annual membership fee. I've heard from some that the savings are substantial, in other places prices seem closer to what I see available elsewhere.

36. Fill up at a half tank.

Screenshot of a tweet responding to the question What's everyone's top gas savings hack? with the answer Filling at half tank.

The idea here is, when you see a good deal on gas, get it. Don't worry about if you're empty yet. Get the good deal wherever you can get it no matter how full the tank is.

37. Be aware of the best places to get gas in your area.

Line drawing of a map with certain spots marked by GPS location icons.

There are some parts of town where the gas prices are just better. While it's helpful to use apps like GetUpside or GasBuddy to identify good deals, the best thing you can do is pay attention yourself. Deliveries and rides can take us all over the place. If you know you're heading into an area with good deals, you can prepare to take advantage.

38. Use the DasherDirect card.

Picture of the DasherDirect debit card.

Doordash provides a debit card for drivers that allows funds to be made available immediately after a Dash on their DasherDirect card. That card also provides 2% cash back rewards on any fuel purchases.

39. Use the Uber Go card.

Picture of the Uber Go business debit card.

Uber Eats also has a card available through GoBank. Their card offers 3% cash back at Exxon and Mobile stations and 1% on any other stations.

40. Get a Cashback credit or debit card.

Cash back credit card illustrated by a cartoon image of a credit card, a shopping bag, a person's head and a dollar sign.

There are several cards out there that offer cash back for various spending categories including fuel purchases.

Many of the cash back cards such as the DasherDirect and Uber Go card offer only 2 or 3% cashback on fuel purchases. That doesn't seem like much, however at $4 per gallon, a 2% savings equates to 8¢ per gallon. The nice thing is that since they are independent of the different options above, that means you can double up. You can get your 10 cents to a dollar per gallon off at the grocery store AND get your cash back on your payment card.

Operate your rides or deliveries efficiently

Let's face it: We've looked at 40 tips so far and to be really honest, the savings on most of these are pretty minimal.

This is the area where you can really have the most impact and save the most.

Accept your rides and deliveries in such a way that you avoid driving long distances.

Here's an example. As I write this, I'm in the middle of an experiment to see if the quality of offers on Doordash changes if I accept every offer. Before this experiment started I was averaging about four tenths of a mile for every dollar earned. During this experiment, I'm driving more than a mile for every dollar earned.

Take advantage of your rights as an independent contractor, and choose the opportunities that make sense both from a payment standpoint but also a cost standpoint.

41. Just say no.

Drawing that looks like a stamped reply that says Rejected.

Uber, Doordash, Lyft, Grubhub, all of these gig economy platforms offer deliveries or rides to you as an opportunity. You don't have to accept every delivery. Say no to the ride offers that don't make sense.

42. Create a smaller radius

Smaller territory illustrated by two arrows pointing inward.

Limit the range into which you'll go for rides or deliveries. Set a cap on how far you'll go. Sometimes an offer comes along that makes it worth making an exception, but most times you can tighten up the distance you're willing to go.

43. Evaluate offers based on time, not total dollars.

Time is money concept illustrated by a drawing of a clock with a coin with dollar sign in front of it.

When the pandemic started, I was making a lot more money than usual. However, I was surprised that my average pay wasn't changing.

When I looked into my numbers there was one stat that increased with my earnings: How many deliveries I completed per hour. With less traffic and parking due to people staying home, travel time improved dramatically.

I've found that the best way to determine whether to accept or reject a delivery was to look at the time it will take over all other things. The shorter a delivery, the less time it will take, and often that's a bigger indication of how profitable the delivery will be than the total pay.

44. Choose areas where shorter and faster trips are more common.

Speedy delivery concept illustarted by a line drawing of a person carrying a package with a clock sitting over his left shoulder

The most profitable places to deliver are often the more densely populated spaces where trips are shorter but faster. If you can learn to navigate those areas, you can often be quite profitable with far shorter trips.

45. Deliver during busier times.

Delivering during busy times illustrated by a drawing of a large crowd of people.

When the demand is higher, orders come more frequently. If orders come more frequently, you can reject long distance orders more easily and be pretty sure a good order will follow rather quickly.

46. Stack deliveries when reasonable.

Cartoon image of a delivery person with multiple packages.

This lines up with the previous tip. When things are busy, food delivery companies are more likely to offer multiple deliveries at one time. Those can be far more efficient and greatly reduce the miles you drive.

Every once in awhile you may find orders that line up well between multiple platforms. I normally advise against doing this if there's a risk of making either of the deliveries late, but sometimes you can find an incredibly efficient match. Some of the third mile package and material delivery platforms like Curri are flexible with their due times and you can run a food delivery concurrently with the package delivery.

47. Look into bike delivery.

Cartoon image of a delivery person riding a fat bike with deliveries in a backpack.

Bicycle delivery can be a great low cost option. My experience is that in the right areas, they can be just as profitable as car deliveries. There are lower maintenance costs and no gas costs to be concerned about. I prefer e-Bike deliveries personally, as I can usually keep delivering for a longer time period.

48. Use a scooter or hoverboard for delivery in congested areas.

Cartoon image of a masked delivery person with a backpack riding on a scooter.

Some drivers will keep an electric scooter or hoverboard with them for the last portion of a delivery to or from congested areas such as downtown. It's sometimes easier and faster to get around than driving and parking, with lower cost as well.

49. Don't be afraid to walk or run.

Cartoon image of a delivery person walking with a backpack, holding a clip-board and a smart phone.

I've had times where I was able to run several deliveries in a row on foot. I would get a delivery downtown and find it takes the same or less time to walk the delivery than to try to drive and find parking. Just make sure you covered yourself for parking if you try this.

In some of the most congested areas, some delivery companies allow people to deliver exclusively on foot.

50. Park strategically.

Line drawing of a parked car with a blue P for Parking sign in the background.

If you are in an area with a lot of one way streets, sometimes the best way to cut down on driving is to park in the right places. Sometimes as you pull away the flow of traffic can quickly take you out of the way. Know where you're going and choose places to park where you can get out more directly and quickly, even if it means walking a block or two.

Keep things in perspective

I could sum this entire section up in three words:

Don't. Freak. Out.

Or as Aaron Rogers would say, Relax.

I'll put it another way: This is the section where I'm going to contradict a lot of the previous 49 suggestions. It's not that those contradicted tips were bad tips, but you have to look at the big picture to decide when they make the most sense for you.

There's a time to save money. There's also a time when saving money actually can cost you more. These tips are meant to help you identify those times.

51. Understand what opportunity cost is.

Opportunity illustrated by drawings of a coin in the middle, with arrows pointing in all directions as though pointing to opportunities.

Opportunity cost is a term that talks about the money or opportunity you could lose by taking another action. For instance, if you wait in line an hour for some super cheap gas, the opportunity cost is the rides or deliveries you could have taken while you were waiting.

52. Follow the 50 cent rule.

Fifty cent rule illustrated by a drawing of a 50 cent coin.

If you're making $30 per hour, every minute is worth 50 cents. Think of it like this: every minute you spend chasing savings is costing you fifty cents. You could probably say this is another way of saying opportunity cost, but this is a way of measuring that opportunity cost.

53. Don't go too far out of your way for cheap gas.

Far away gas illustrated by a line drawing of a person on one end of a road, and far off in the distance is a gas pump.

There's one reason I don't use my Costco membership often for gas. Location. Costco is far enough away and in an area where deliveries I could pick up after filling up aren't as good. If a gas savings program requires you to go out of your way, think about the time and the cost of driving. Evaluate whether the cost and opportunity cost is greater than your savings.

54. Don't be miserable driving an uncomfortable but economical car.

cartoon image of a large clown driving a small car.

I could spend a lot less on gas with a Prius than I could with my Equinox. But in the end I'll make less money because I just don't fit well in those Priuses. Or whatever the plural of Prius is. If I'm miserable driving a car, I'm less likely to keep going out and making money, so the opportunity cost is greater than my fuel savings.

55. Don't save gas on heating or air conditioning to the point you don't want to deliver.

cartoon drawing of a man who is hot and sweaty holding a fan to fan himself.

This is very similar to the previous tip. Sometimes the most fuel efficient thing you can do is cut the air conditioning. However, if you're sweating like a pig, you're probably less likely to want to drive (and less likely to get tips). Having a comfortable work environment is sometimes worth the extra gas.

56. Avoid unsafe hypermiling.

Line drawing of a finger pressing a keyboard button labeled Danger.

There are some extreme gas saving measures that some practice that could have greater costs than what the savings are. One example is to shut the car off and coast. If a strategy is going to increase your chance of an accident, the savings really aren't worth it.

57. Don't pay extra to save less.

Avoiding GasBuddy premium illustrated by the Gasbuddy logo with premium written below and a large red circle with a crossout line across it.

I mentioned the GasBuddy app earlier. They sell a monthly subscription for $9.99 that offers “Guaranteed fuel savings of 20¢/gal, up to 50 gal/month.”

Read that line again. Now do the math. The limit for the additional savings is 50 gallons. 50 gallons at 20¢ each is… ten bucks. You're paying ten dollars so you can get UP TO ten dollars of savings. Why?

Another example is the membership option (tip #35). A $60 annual membership that saves you 10¢ per gallon requires 600 gallons of gas just to save as much as you paid.

Do the math before paying for discount programs.

58. Fill up less often

Filling up on empty illustrated by a cartoon image of a gas gauge sitting on Empty.

In tip #36 I said fill up whenever you find savings. Sometimes the opposite is better. If you stop and fill up while on a delivery, you're not making money during that time. Use the 50 cent rule here – if it takes ten minutes to fill up, that's a $5.00 opportunity cost. Are you saving more than that $5 in lost time?

The important takeaway here is, try to time your fill-ups for when it won't impact your ability to earn.

59. Go ahead and deliver in bad weather, even with the bad fuel economy.

Cartoon illustration of a delivery driver riding a scooter in bad weather.

Tip #2 said that fuel economy is a lot worse in cold weather. But here's the thing: the worse the weather gets, the more people order in, and the less they want to drive themselves. The higher earning potential can often more than offset the extra fuel cost.

60. Don't overdo the slow driving thing.

Yellow and black caution sign that reads Caution Slow Moving Vehicle.

In tip #10, I pointed out slower speed uses less gas. However, driving too slow can cost you money in a worse way.

Let's run the numbers: Let's say you drive 60 miles at 60 mph, get 25 mpg at $4 each. That's 2.4 gallons of gas, which costs $9.60. Slowing down by 10 mph saves about $10. However, it takes 12 minutes longer to get to your destination.

That 12 minutes lost time, at 50 cents a minute, cost you $6 in earnings. You gave up $6 to save $1 in fuel costs.

Perhaps driving the speed limit is the best balance between using too much gas and driving too slow. Driving significantly faster costs you fuel, while too slow costs time.

61. Step away to the Hybrid! Say no to the EV!

Line drawings of a person running quickly away from an electric vehicle.

I'm not saying NOT to drive a Prius or Tesla. What I'm saying is, don't go out and spend a lot of money on a new car just because of gas prices.

If the cost of making that purchase, of financing it, of taxes, and higher additional costs is greater than what you're saving, it doesn't make sense.

If you're already planning to buy a car, that's one thing. Then it makes a lot more sense to factor in fuel economy. However, buying only for the gas savings but spending more than what you save in the process may not be such a great idea.

61. Don't park so far away that you slow yourself down.

Cartoon illustration of a delivery person parked a long way away from the restaurant and walking a long path.

Some of our tips involved parking strategically. Finding places that can help keep your car warm in winter or cool in summer, or grabbing a spot so you don't loose time looking for parking. However, make sure you balance that with how much added time it takes to actually get to the restaurant or customer. Parking with long walks can cost a lot more in time than the little in gas it saves.

62. Keep the overall cost of driving in perspective.

Keeping a big picture view illustrated by a shape of a person's head and inside that shape is a lighthouse shining light on the bigger picture.

Even with the cost of gas skyrocketing, gas is still a small part of the overall cost of running your car. This is particularly true if you have a newer or more valuable car. Depreciation and wear and tear are hidden costs that most don't think about. Every mile driven brings you closer to big ticket repairs or part replacement. Each mile reduces the value of your car.

I just ran a blue book value on a one year old entry level Tesla model Y with 10,000 miles on it. I ran it a second time, this time with 30,000 miles. Mileage was the only change, and the difference in value was $3300. In other words, every mile was reducing the value of that car by 16.5 cents.

At $4 per gallon, the average car today (25 mpg) uses 13.3 cents of gas.

There's obviously a lot more to the total cost of operating a car than just that. The important thing here is that there are a lot of other costs of ownership that normally add up to far more than what you pay for gas.

Here's why this is important: A lot of people are freaking out over increases in gas prices that equal a few cents a mile, without thinking about the greater cost of depreciation and wear and tear. The higher cost of gas is definitely an issue. My point is, pay more attention to the other costs of driving as well.

Summing it all up:

Gas prices are hitting us hard. That doesn't mean we're without option. It also doesn't mean it's time to hang it up.

The reality is, a lot of drivers are going to quit. Think about this from a supply and demand perspective. As the supply of drivers decreases, the demand for those of us who remain increases. We're in a better position to hold out for better terms.

The best things we can do right now about rising gas prices are:

  • Drive in more economical ways to cut down gas consumption
  • Look for opportunities to reduce purchase prices
  • Make business decisions with your rides and deliveries where you drive less for the amount of money you make
  • Balance your decisions with the opportunity costs of those decisions. Avoid going so overboard with the savings that you cost yourself the opportunity to earn.

In my opinion, the additional cost per ride or delivery is small enough that it can be overcome. We still have the power to stay in control of our businesses, even with the increased cost.

Do you have any suggestions or tips other drivers can use that aren't listed above? Leave a comment with your own fuel saving tips and tricks.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

About the Author

Ron Walter made the move from business manager at a non-profit to full time gig economy delivery in 2018 to take advantage of the flexibility of self-employment. He applied his thirty years experience managing and owning small businesses to treat his independent contractor role as the business it is.

Realizing his experience could help other drivers, he founded EntreCourier.com to encourage delivery drivers to be the boss of their own gig economy business.

Ron has been quoted in several national outlets including Business Insider, the New York Times, CNN and Market Watch.