New RVer asks: How can I save money on fuel?

New RVer asks: How can I save money on fuel?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Even with fuel prices relatively low, some of the highest costs of RVing come in the form of fuel purchases — and RVers need every break they can get. Instead of focusing on the technical issues of fuel economy, let’s talk about how to actually save money at the fuel pump.

fuel pump robberyMuch of how you save fuel dollars is on where you buy the fuel. Comparing fuel prices station by station makes sense, but who wants to drive all over a strange town comparing prices, then finding out the first station you saw had the best price? Internet fuel price comparison services make a big difference. gasbuddy.com uses volunteer price watchers to post updated prices on fuel. Log on using your personal computer, or if you’re portable equipped, there’s an ap for ipods.

Are you a warehouse club member? Sams? Costco? Warehouse club members often pay much less then area fuel stations on a gallon for gallon basis. The trouble is, many of the warehouse outfits only provide gasoline, not diesel. But warehouse retailers aren’t the only ones who give loyalty rewards: Grocery stores like Safeway, Kroger, PriceChopper and others have loyalty programs. Safeway gives its customers a three-cent per gallon discount without having to make any purchases. Other stores give discounts based on the amount of purchases made in the store over a given time frame. Here you’ve got to watch closely–are you paying more for groceries to get the discount, than the actual discount itself?

You’ll also find loyalty discount programs from RV clubs. Good Sam members get a card that offers cents off gasoline and diesel purchases at Flying J and Pilot fuel stops. Sometimes that’s a great deal–at other times you may find that you can by fuel at another station nearby at their “full” price and do better than you would with the discount at these stops. Another card Good Sam offers is a branded credit card — use it to make fuel purchases, save even more per gallon.

The payment medium used can also make a difference in fuel prices. Some oil companies offer a discount to customers using their “branded” credit card. In other cases credit cards may offer discounts on gas, regardless of where you purchase the fuel. Here again, watch closely. Will you have to pay an annual fee to the credit card company that may outweigh the actual savings? Watch the inserts from your credit card company, too. One of our credit card companies offered a $20 rebate if we purchased $100 worth of fuel from Shell stations over a three month period. We bought our $100 worth, and haven’t seen a Shell pump since that time–we could do better elsewhere.

We do have a different credit card that offers us two-cents cash back on every dollar we spend on fuel purchases. With no annual fee, it’s a great deal — provided we pay off the purchases at the end of the month, avoiding finance charges. When we have a BIG trip that we figure might be too tight to pay for, we forgo this card and the “cash back” option and put fuel purchases onto a lower interest rate card.

Finally, in some cases you may save money by paying cash over swiping a credit or debit card. If you’re fueling up a big rig and popping out three or four hundred dollars, consider the risks of losing the cash. And if you do pay cash, don’t wind up “blowing” your savings by picking up something you might not have otherwise bought if you’d stayed with your rig and paid at the pump.

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6 thoughts on “New RVer asks: How can I save money on fuel?

  1. Dave Woythal

    Doc said plugs, which diesels don’t have, so he is not talking about acetone additive to diesels unless he misspoke.

  2. David Woythal

    I drove from N.Y. to Florida, then to Utah and back to N.Y.. I put 11,000 miles on my Duramax Diesel in four months and never had a fuel problem or any problems of any kind pulling an 15,000 lb fifth wheel. I did not get fuel at the major outlets, but left the highway to save an average of .20 a gallon by buying it at secondary outlets. Now a days there are many pick-ups and cars that use diesel, so it doesn’t sit in the tanks for a long period of time. Times have changed with diesel consumption now a days. I also averaged 11 miles per gallon.

  3. Edward V Shipley

    Where do you get the Acetone for the fuel, and how much do you add.

  4. Lex Cauffield

    All diesel fuel is not created equal. I purchase from Loves, Pilot, or other reputable stations. There fuel is not in the tanks for extended periods of time. That means no fungus in the fuel. I learned a dear lesson going for the cheap stuff. When you have to stop along the roadsidde and try and change your fuel filters on a hot RV, thats all I am saying.

  5. Doc

    Adding Acetone to fuel (about 1 oz. for every 20 gallons) increases my gas mileage, especially on long trips. This saves me about $100. per 1,000 miles driven, OR MORE !!!

    Acetone does not harm any rubber parts, and helps clean the engine parts, lifters, plugs, and cylinders.

    1. elaine ashton

      Do I assume we are talking about diesel fuel? I buy diesel additive and used to put it in every fill-up but now do it every third or fourth fill-up — I think it has increased my mileage. And by the way — is all diesel fuel created equal? I was told it was the same no matter what brand you buy.

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