If you’re planning a road trip, gas prices can really put a damper on things. Rising fuel costs have successfully put everyone into a frenzy in these tough economic times, and while these fuel concerns are valid, there are many ways to avoid paying extra at the pump. By braking properly, not driving at excessive speeds, removing any extra weight in your car, checking your tire pressure, and filling up at stations with cut-rate pricing, you will be on your way to enjoying your outing without emptying your wallet in the process.
1. Braking and accelerating moderately is important when it comes to your car’s gas mileage. More than 35 percent of drivers on the road resort to constant acceleration and braking patterns to keep up with traffic, but this behavior is incredibly inefficient. Your car’s gas mileage is greatly affected by acceleration, so the less you accelerate, the better your fuel economy. In fact, accelerating from a dead-stop is when your vehicle uses the most fuel…which means it’s not necessarily good for your wallet to race out ahead of the other cars when the light turns green.
Moderate braking helps save gas too, because it forces you to drive more smoothly and coast more. Coasting is a great way to save gas, and if you train yourself to avoid hard stops, you’ll find that you’ll be doing a lot more coasting.
2. Another good way to save on gas is to roll up your windows. While this method is still hotly debated by some, it has been proven that having your windows rolled completely down hinders the aerodynamic capability of your car. While running the air conditioner can also have a negative effect on fuel economy, it is almost always less harmful than the excess amount of turbulence created by having wind resistance pass through the inside of your vehicle instead of passing over it.
If you’re not sure that rolling down your windows hurts your gas mileage when compared to the air conditioner, why not test it?
3. Get that junk out of your trunk. If your car is hauling an extra 100 lbs of weight, your fuel economy will fall about 1%. That might not sound like much, but it can add up to a few hundred dollars over a year or two. Therefore, don’t haul around any more gear than you have to.
4. Tire pressure matters. This is the single most common piece of car advice handed out, but there’s a reason for that – tire pressure impacts fuel economy pretty dramatically. If your tires are improperly inflated, you’ll see fuel economy drop 2-3%. Check your tire pressure regularly.
5. Find the best deal on gas. There can be quite a bit of price variance between gas stations, and that means it’s a good idea to check gas prices in your area before filling up. GasBuddy.com offers a mobile app for Android and iPhone that you can use during a road trip, in addition to their free gas deal finder on their website. It’s a good idea to use these apps, as they can save you anywhere from $2-10 on every fill-up. Over the course of a year, that’s a lot of money.