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Last updated: December 14, 2023

Fuel Cost Calculator

Budget for your daily commute or your next road trip.

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Gas is an expense of car ownership that can quietly add up over time. Enter your car’s average miles per gallon (mpg), the length of your daily commute or the next road trip you plan to take, and the cost of gas, and see how much you can expect to pay. For commuting, be sure to enter your round trip mileage rather than just one way.

Simple Ways to Save on Gas

Carpool

Sharing a ride — for example, driving to work with a colleague or offering to split driving duties with other parents — is a great way to reduce spending on fuel (as well as reduce wear and tear on your vehicle). Carpooling, taking public transportation, walking, or biking just one day a week can save the typical commuter up to 1,200 miles every year, or an average of $170.1

Choose another form of transportation

Rising gas prices are a major concern for most Americans, and the average car commuter spends $867 on fuel annually.2 Additionally, the cost of vehicles themselves has risen sharply since the pandemic began. Biking, walking, and taking public transportation are often significantly less expensive than driving — as well as less stressful. Experiment with taking an alternate form of transportation to work if possible, even just one day a week, to save time and money on gas.

Check your tire pressure

Properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by up to 3 percent and will last longer, saving you money on maintenance.3 Check your tire pressure every month or so, using the sticker inside your driver door (or your vehicle manual) to see the proper pressure. It’s best to adjust tire pressure when your tires are cold, before you’ve driven. You can buy a digital air compressor for about $30.

Keep up on vehicle maintenance

A well-maintained engine operates more efficiently, leading to better gas mileage. Regularly change your oil and replace air filters. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of oil and opting for “energy conserving” oil can contribute to fuel savings. Energy-conserving oils contain additives that reduce friction, making the engine more efficient and improving gas mileage.

TIP:

Search the U.S. Department of Energy’s website to find your car’s mpg at https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.shtml.

Drive the speed limit

Speeding is worse for your fuel economy (not to mention, a speeding ticket will increase the cost of auto insurance). Avoid aggressive driving, such as rapid acceleration and hard braking, as it consumes more fuel. Maintain a steady speed and use cruise control on highways to optimize efficiency.

Plan efficient trips

The less you drive, the less you’ll spend on fuel. Try to consolidate errands into a single trip, rather than multiple separate trips. In a city, if possible park in a central location and walk to your different appointments, as stop-and-go traffic is worse for gas mileage.

DID YOU KNOW?

Research has found that driving is the most stressful method of commuting.4

Consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle

When it’s time for another vehicle, consider a hybrid or electric car. Hybrids typically get 30 to 50 percent more miles per gallon than gas-powered cars. While electric and hybrid vehicles are more expensive than gas-powered cars, you’ll likely save on costs over the vehicle’s life, especially when you factor in tax credits.5 Our Fuel Efficient Car Calculator and Electric or Gas Powered Car Calculator can help you decide whether it makes sense to trade in your current vehicle for one that’s more efficient.

Below are some of the most fuel-efficient hybrid cars:

Vehicle Combined mpg Estimated annual fuel cost savings*
2024 Toyota Prius LE 57 $943
2024 Kia Niro LX 53 $888
2024 Toyota Camry LE 52 $872
2023 Hyundai Elantra 50 $840
2024 Toyota Corolla 50 $840

Below are some of the most fuel-efficient gas-powered (non-hybrid) cars:

Car Model Combined mpg Estimated annual fuel cost savings*
2023 Mitsubishi Mirage 39 $603
2023 Hyundai Elantra SE 37 $545
2023 Kia Forte LX 35 $480
2023 Toyota Corolla 35 $480
2023 Honda Civic 34 $445

* Estimated annual fuel cost savings are calculated based on upgrading from a 25 mpg car, driving 12,000 miles annually, and assuming a cost of gas at $3.50 per gallon.

How Our Fuel Cost Calculator Works

Road Trip

Let’s say you’re driving 500 miles round trip in your 2019 Honda Civic, which gets an average of 36 miles per gallon. Divide the total number of trip miles (500) by your car’s mpg (36) to find the number of gallons you’ll use during the trip — in this example, about 14 gallons.

Next, let’s say you’re driving in Arizona, where the average cost of a gallon of gas is $3.76. Multiply the number of gallons you’ll use by the cost of fuel, and the result is the cost for your trip: $52.64.

Total number of miles driven 500
Vehicle average mpg 36
Gallons of gas used during trip (total miles ÷ mpg) 14
Average cost of gas per gallon $3.76
Total trip cost (gallons used x cost per gallon) $52.64

Commute

Follow a similar process to determine the cost of fuel for your daily commute. Let’s say you live 20 miles from work, meaning you drive 40 miles round trip every day.

Divide your daily mileage by your vehicle’s mpg. If you drive a 2019 Honda Civic which gets 36 mpg, you’ll use about 1.11 gallons of gas daily.

Finally, multiply the gas you use by the cost of fuel. If the average cost of a gallon of gas where you live is $3.76, you’ll spend around $4.16 daily on your commute. If you drive to work five days a week, fifty weeks a year, that’s $20.80 weekly, $83.20 monthly, or $1,040.00 annually.

BUDGETING:

The average American household spends $150 to $200 on gas every month.6 Transportation is usually the second-most expensive budget category, after housing.

Daily commuting mileage 40
Vehicle average mpg 36
Gallons of gas used daily (commute ÷ mpg) 1.11
Average cost of gas per gallon $3.76
Daily commuting cost (gallons used x cost per gallon) $4.16
Weekly commuting cost (daily cost x 5 days) $20.80
Monthly commuting cost (weekly cost x 4 weeks) $83.20
Annual commuting cost (weekly cost x 50 weeks, assuming 2 weeks vacation) $1,040.00

Factors that Determine Fuel Price

Cost of Crude Oil

The primary factor influencing gas prices is the cost of crude oil, often accounting for over 50 percent of price. Changes in global oil supply and demand, geopolitical events, and decisions by oil-producing nations, especially those in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), can impact crude oil prices. For example, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increased the cost of crude oil significantly. Government intervention also plays a role; for example, when President Joe Biden released oil from U.S. strategic reserves to lower costs.

Taxes

Federal, state, and local taxes contribute to the cost of gas. For example, one of the reasons gas is more expensive in California is that its tax on gasoline is higher than those of other states, accounting for about 13 percent of the price of a gallon of gas.

Distribution and Marketing Costs

The process of distributing and marketing gasoline involves costs related to transportation, storage, and the operation of gas stations. Distribution costs can vary based on the location and infrastructure.

Market Forces and Speculation

Like other commodities, the price of gas is influenced by market forces and speculation. Factors such as global economic conditions, supply and demand dynamics, and market speculation can contribute to price volatility.

Fuel Cost FAQ

Does Google Maps estimate fuel cost?

Google Maps does not currently estimate fuel cost. However, you can select your engine type and Google Maps will show you the most fuel-efficient route. You can also set the app to automatically use the most fuel-efficient route if the arrival times are similar.

How much gas do you need for a trip?

To calculate the amount of gas needed, you can use the following formula:

Total Distance ÷ Miles Per Gallon = Gas Needed

For example, if you’re driving 200 miles and your car gets 30 miles per gallon, you’ll need about 6.67 gallons of gas for your trip.

Total Distance 200 miles
Miles per Gallon 30
Gas needed (Total Distance ÷ Miles Per Gallon) 6.67 gallons

How much gas will $10 get me?

As of Nov. 15, 2023, the national average cost for a gallon of gas is $3.49, which means that $10 will get you about 2.87 gallons of gas. The average car gets around 25 miles per gallon, so 2.87 gallons will last you about 70 miles.

Cost of gas $3.49 per gallon
Number of gallons ten dollars can purchase ($10 ÷ $3.49) 2.87 gallons
Miles per Gallon 25 mpg
Distance on 2.87 gallons, or ten dollars worth of gas (25 x 2.87) 70 miles

How much is the cost of gas to drive for 1 hour?

The cost of gas to drive for 1 hour depends on several factors, including the fuel efficiency of your vehicle, the current price of gas, and your driving conditions. To estimate the cost, you can use the following formula:

(Average Speed in mph ÷ Miles per Gallon) x Price per Gallon

For example, if you’ll be driving an average of 60 miles per hour and your car gets 25 miles per gallon, you’ll need about 2.4 gallons of gas for your trip. If the cost of gas is $3.49 per gallon, your hour-long trip will cost $8.38.

Average speed 60 mph
Miles per Gallon 25
Gas used in 1 hour (60 mph ÷ 25 mpg) 2.4
Cost of gas $3.49 per gallon
Cost of hour-long trip (Gallons x Cost) $8.38

Does mileage make your insurance go up?

Mileage can increase your insurance, because the more you drive, the higher the chance of getting into an accident. Some insurance companies offer usage-based insurance and pay-per-mile insurance, which lower your premium if you drive fewer miles.

Citations

  1. Alternative Transportation Facts. City of High Point North Carolina. (2023).
    https://www.highpointnc.gov/664/Alternative-Transportation-Facts

  2. The Best and Worst Cities for Commuters in 2022. Clever. (2023, May 12).
    https://listwithclever.com/research/best-and-worst-cities-for-commmuters-2022/

  3. Keeping Your Vehicle in Shape. U.S. Department of Energy. (2023).
    https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/maintain.jsp

  4. NC State Shibboleth Login Service. North Carolina State University. (2023).
    https://docs.shib.ncsu.edu/ds/ncsu/WAYF

  5. 2x Match to Defend Our Environment. NRDC. (2023).
    https://www.nrdc.org/stories/electric-vs-gas-cars-it-cheaper-drive-ev

  6. How Much Do People Spend On Gas Each Month? J.D. Power. (2023, Jan 11).
    https://www.jdpower.com/cars/shopping-guides/how-much-do-people-spend-on-gas-each-month