As gas prices start to creep down from record highs, Americans still reel from financial strife and search for deals and free gas options. It was easy to use less gas while remote work was the norm. But many businesses now require their workers to return in full force, and even the cheapest gas can seriously eat into monthly budgets. That’s especially hard on low-income families.

Fortunately, there are some easy and effective ways to save money at the gas station or even get free gas for a while.

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What happens when you run out of fuel while driving?

So many vehicles on the road claim to be fuel efficient nowadays that driving with less gas often seems harmless. But that’s not always the case. Once the fuel light or E emerges on the fuel indicator, most newer or fuel-efficient vehicles have between 30-50 miles before the car’s starved of gas. Of course, if you’re out of dense traffic at the time, you can simply coast to a stop and pull over to call for assistance or walk to a gas station. But your vehicle still suffers even if you’re lucky enough to avoid being stressed or harmed in the process. This is what happens when your car runs out of fuel:

1. Your vehicle stalls.

When you run out of gas, the vehicle shuts off all power as if the key was removed from the ignition. This can cause panic, distraction, and several potential dangers to those in and out of the vehicle.

2. Steering and braking become difficult.

Brakes don’t usually shut off when someone runs out of gas, but the pedal does become harder to press. The steering also will often stop functioning correctly since the power steering function isn’t engaged. Therefore, you’ll need to put a lot more effort into stopping and steering the slowly coasting vehicle out of the way of traffic.

3. Fuel injectors might clog.

Sediment and debris easily collect at the bottom of the gas tank in any car. If your fuel gets too low, the filters can fail to remove the sediment, and the gunk can clog your fuel injectors. Problems may not result right away, but over time those clogged injectors can put more strain on the engine and require a complete fuel system cleaning.

4. You might need a new fuel pump.

Your vehicle’s fuel pump requires the gas in your car’s tank to stay lubricated and cool so it can pump it through the rest of the engine. If you’re running on less gas than 1/4 tank, the fuel pump can quickly become overworked and ultimately stop working.

5. The engine gets damaged.

Without the right amount of fuel to function, any engine will overheat, seize, and become damaged. Most people driving pure gas vehicles are aware of this potential issue. But this can also happen in hybrid vehicles since an electric motor still uses gas as a coolant. That’s an unnecessarily expensive consequence for trying to save money by using less gas than your car requires.

How can you tell if someone is stealing gas?

Theft is not a new low in the attempt to get free gas, but stealing gas from others has become the new norm in some locations due to excessive gas prices. Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs you’ve been a victim, or at least had the attempt made on your vehicle, so you’re not in for a rude awakening a few miles down the road.

1. Strong odors near your vehicle:

Never sniff your gas tank. But gasoline and diesel give off strong enough odors that you’ll be able to quickly tell when approaching your car if any dripped on or around the vehicle.

2. Puddles beneath your car:

Even if you lock your car or have a locking cap, look for any signs of leakage or puddles beneath your vehicle. Some thieves have resorted to drilling right in the gas tank when they can’t get their free gas through other means.

3. Sugar residue or tampered fuel cap:

Old-school gas thieves (or those out for revenge) may attempt to put sugar in the tank because they think it will dissolve and be the cause of the car not starting. But sugar doesn’t dissolve in gasoline. Instead, it settles at the bottom of the tank and still cycles through the engine. And yes, it will destroy the fuel pump and other components. So check to see if there are any granules or other tampering signs around your fuel cap.

4. Fuel gauge is clearly lower:

Try to keep your tank at a specific fueling point, so you always know what the gauge is on. Either that or make it a habit to check whenever you leave your vehicle. That way, if the indicator is significantly off, you’ll know someone tampered with it to get free gas.

5. Car refuses to start:

If your car is drained of gas, your car won’t start. So check for the issues above before trying to move your vehicle.

What happens if you steal fuel?

With the current and expected state of gas prices, many people search for free gas options. Unfortunately, some even go as far as to steal it. But consider other possibilities thoroughly before going down that dark path. Gas theft in any form is a criminal offense. Gas theft actually is comprised of three parts:

  • The perpetrator knowingly took gasoline
  • The fuel belonged to another person or entity (usually a gas station)
  • The thief intended to deprive the owner of the gas of its use

There is no such thing as an innocent crime as far as gas theft is concerned. Gas thieves often steal gas from businesses such as gas stations or from individuals, many of whom may be from low-income families. There are two outcomes for gas theft if the perpetrator is caught. If the theft amount is low, it’s considered a minor offense or petty theft. That’s classified as a misdemeanor. If the theft amount is anything over $400, it’s classified as a felony.

Legal fees, court fines, jail time, and disclosure on your permanent record may apply in both cases. So think long and hard before you make such a desperate move. It likely won’t help you save money, and you may be hurting low-income families in the process. And in some cases (which are becoming increasingly more common), gas theft can result in personal or property damage, injury, or even fatalities. Remember, gasoline is a highly flammable mixture.

Can you overdraft Cash App for gas?

Yes. Gas pumps at gas stations work differently than other cash card transaction machines and scanners. Rather than confirming you have the entire amount for the purchase on the card, the card scanners at gas stations simply ensure there’s some money on the card before unlocking the gas pump. While overdrafts are rare, they do happen. The reasons for that are either a disputed transaction, or you’ve overspent the amount that was available through your Cash App card.

If either of those happens, your transaction won’t result in free gas, and you won’t save money. In fact, you’ll likely have to deal with overdraft fees.

How can I get gas with no money?

Getting free gas is possible, but it takes some luck, research, and pre-planning. There are even special programs for low-income families that help with free gas vouchers, free gas cards, discounted gas cards, and gas assistance for getting to work and doctor’s appointments. 

1. Task and survey sites

If you’re not already doing online gigs for free gift cards or gas cards, you need to join some legitimate sites. Many sites like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie allow members to earn points for simple tasks such as watching videos and taking surveys. The payout can be in the form of free gas cards or even prepaid Visa cards that can be used as gas cards or for free gas when it’s needed.

2. Gas vouchers

Gas assistance is available for low-income families and those with medical or work requirements. In addition, you can apply for programs to get free gas vouchers, free rides, and free gas for specific activities or needs.

3. Shopping bonuses

Many stores, entertainment services like movie theaters, and even gas stations offer free gas cards or discounted gas cards with special purchases or promos. Take advantage of those and keep the gas cards on hand or in the glove compartment for emergencies.

4. Credit card rewards

Take advantage of special credit card rewards to claim free gas cards and discounted gas cards for various activities. The gas cards offered via your credit cards typically have quick expiration dates, so claim and use them as offered. Be sure to use your gas cards at gas stations that offer the cheapest gas in your area to get the most out of your free gas. You can also claim cash back for using your credit cards and transfer those earnings to free gas.

How can I get a fuel voucher?

1. Catholic Charities

Try one of their 3,600 locations nationwide to get emergency financial assistance, bill assistance, food, shelter, clothing, and Christmas toys for low-income families. You can also apply for free gas cards or a free gas voucher.

2. Non-Emergency Transportation (NET)

Government assistant candidates can apply for the NET program. There’s a number right on the back of your Medicaid card to get in contact with someone and check eligibility for gas assistance, a gas voucher, or a free ride to medical appointments.

3. Salvation Army

The Salvation Army offers programs for low-income families and individuals that provide free gas vouchers and transportation when needed. Proof of need, which may include doctor’s appointments and household income, may be required.

Is Free Gas USA real?

Free Gas USA claims to be a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that helps U.S. citizens in need, regardless of income level. Supposedly, the company was established in 2008 and partners with churches and philanthropic agencies nationwide. However, there are reasons to believe this is likely a defunct or dubious corporation.

1. The website is down.

The only active mention online regarding Free Gas USA is the current Facebook page and a few articles referencing that page. There are no testimonials, reviews, or personal comments for a supposedly over a decade-old corporation. And the website is down. Red flags all around.

2. The physical location is permanently closed.

A quick Google search leads to the supposed physical location of Free Gas USA, but it’s an empty lot. The listing also states it’s permanently closed.

3. There’s no BBB listing.

Possibly the most telling issue is the lack of a BBB rating. Not only is there no rating, the corporation never listed itself with the Better Business Bureau. Legitimate non-profits and charities list their corporations with the BBB since good ratings lead to more financial assistance and support for the corporations.

Rather than trust a Facebook page to secure free gas, opt for one of the legitimate assistance programs above or earn free gift cards for yourself.

How can I make free money for gas?

Several task and gig sites on the internet allow members to earn points and cash them out to earn free gas cards. Some of the most popular and legit options include:

Each of those websites will reward users who answer surveys, watch videos, play games, refer friends, and do other simple tasks. It may take a while to qualify for and complete surveys, so be sure to join multiple sites that offer extra tasks that can be done between the higher-paying survey options. Cash in your points for free gift cards to use on the cheapest gas in your area to get the most out of your efforts.  

In Conclusion

Free gas isn’t just given away at any gas station; you can still get it or earn it. You just have to put a little effort in and think outside the box. With all the legitimate task sites and gas assistance programs nationwide, there’s always a way to either get the free gas you need or save money consistently at the pumps.

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