How to Save Gas on Summer Trips
July 8, 2014 / Sara Davis / Save Money on My Vacation
With summer gas prices rising higher than ever before, car owners are beginning to worry about the fuel cost of their daily commute to work.
The average gas prices for this summer were expected to stay between $3.55 and $3.70 per gallon, and as of June 23rd, 2014, the average reached the high end of that scale. Fortunately there are several tricks that car owners can employ to keep their gas consumption as low as possible, without resorting to parking their car for the summer.
- Don’t speed. As the speed of a car increases, so does its drag. Consequently, the fuel efficiency of the car goes down. Driving at 60 mph versus 75 mph can reduce your gas consumption by up to 15 percent!
- Anticipate traffic. When you accelerate quickly and brake quickly, starting and stopping in traffic, you increase fuel consumption by 20%. Take note of the traffic around you and anticipate the flow so you can drive as smoothly as possible, accelerating and braking slowly and only when necessary.
- Don’t idle. If your engine is idling for more than 20 seconds, you are wasting gas. Turn your car off if it’s sitting idle (when you aren't on the road) to save yourself a few dollars at the gas pump. Waiting in the drive through, in your driveway or during a severe traffic jam, turn it off as long as you are in a safe area and won't need to restart for at least several minutes or more.
- Keep your car in good condition. Having proper maintenance done on your car is necessary to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Check your car’s tire pressure regularly, and have the tires rotated as often as you have the oil changed, or every 3,000-5,000 miles, as instructed by your vehicle's manufacturer. Tires with low pressure that aren’t rotated waste more gas and wear out more quickly. Dirty filters, old spark plugs, and low fluid levels can also decrease your car’s fuel efficiency. It may be a good idea for a Summertime tune-up.
- Decrease the load on your car. Adding more weight to your car will decrease your fuel efficiency by 2% for every 100 extra pounds. Luggage racks on the roof will also increase the car’s drag, lowering fuel efficiency even further.
- Use cruise control. If you are going to drive long distance, set the cruise control to keep your car traveling at a constant speed. Keeping the car’s speed constant will often save gas.
- Turn off the AC. Unless it’s necessary, keep the AC turned off to decrease the load on your engine. Using the AC can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20% because of the extra work the engine is forced to perform. However, if you are on the highway and traveling at speeds over 60 mph,it makes sense to use the AC and keep your windows rolled up, to keep drag to a minimum, as noted below.
- Reduce Drag. Keep windows closed, and don’t add extra weight on the top or the back of the vehicle. Any extra drag will cause your fuel consumption to increase. Also, it's a myth that lowering the tailgate on your truck will net you better fuel consumption, so keep it up. A truck is also structurally much safer with the tailgate up.
Lastly, always be aware of your surroundings are drive safely. There's nothing more important than getting to you destination safe and sound.