How to calculate the gas cost of a trip

Road through trees in fall

It’s easy to jump in the car and just drive, but when you’re taking a road trip, or even starting a new commute, a little planning goes a long way.

Calculating the gas cost of your trip is a smart trick to budget travel expenses, and there are a couple of routes you can take.

One is doing it by hand, which can be completed in a few simple steps and gives you some know-how, while the other is using a gas cost calculator. For that, you’ll need a few basic details about your vehicle.

Route A – Take 4 simple steps

Calculate your miles per gallon

Fill up your gas tank and set the trip odometer to zero then drive normally until it’s time to stop for gas again. When you next refuel, note the trip odometer reading to get the number of miles you’ve driven.

Alternatively, you can get this figure by writing down the overall odometer reading the first time you fill up and again the second time, with the difference being your miles driven.

Next, divide the mileage by the number of gallons of fuel you pumped on the second gas stop to find out your miles per gallon.

Work out the trip distance

Whether you’re going point-to-point or taking a round trip, a quick look at your navigation app or online map resources will tell you how many miles the journey will be. Select your preferred route, consider traffic hot spots to avoid and, if you’re planning a road trip, think about any sights and detours you want to build into the trip.

Get the price of gas

You may remember the price of gas from your last fill-up but prices can fluctuate a lot over time and by region, so that might not be a good guide. View the current national and regional gas prices provided by AAA to get an idea of what the price of gas will be for your journey.

Calculate the overall gas cost of your trip

With miles per gallon, trip distance and the price of gas at your fingertips, you can calculate the gas cost for the trip with this formula. First, divide the distance of the route by your miles per gallon figure to discover how many gallons of gas you will need, then multiply the number of gallons by the price of gas.

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Route B – Use a gas cost calculator

There are a number of useful calculators that will give you the cost of a trip and even directions and information for savings on gas. The government’s fuel economy website enables you to select your vehicle year, make, model and engine type, enter your start and finish points and any stopping off places on the way, plus the percentage of city driving for the trip. Click to calculate and you’ll receive your fuel cost estimate, a map of the journey and directions. You can also enter additional vehicles to compare costs.

GasBuddy is another popular option. Type in your starting location, destination, a stop-off if you have one, and select whether you want to calculate a one-way or round-trip. Then select your vehicle’s year, make, model and engine type along with the fuel you use – regular, midgrade, premium or diesel. GasBuddy will give you the trip cost, distance and projected gallons used, as well as where to fill up and your potential savings from using recommended gas stations.

Other trip expenses

Whichever approach you choose, calculating the gas cost of a trip is a handy way to plan for your expenses and, while it is an estimate rather than an exact figure, it will help you to avoid an unexpected fuel bill at the end.

Remember that there are often other expenses to consider, too, such as toll fees, and that unforeseen events such as accidents and delays may crop up, adding miles and gas to your journey.

See what you may save on gas

If you’re interested in reducing your gas costs, try Chrysler Capital’s fuel savings calculator to estimate your savings with a new vehicle. Our calculator enables you to compare the miles per gallon of your current car, truck, or SUV to that of another to give you a potential annual saving.

You can learn more about managing your auto expenses with our affordability, monthly payment and payoff calculators, and through further resources within the Learning Center.