Now that gas has come down in price somewhat, heading out on that glorious summer road trip is that much more financially viable for many folks this year. Still, gas is expensive – and so is virtually everything else these days.
If you’re going to transport yourself from point A to point B this year via your automobile – whether that’s going cross country, going to the beach or just heading to visit an old college friend – it’s probably in your best interest to optimize your gasoline consumption.
That’s assuming, of course, you’d like to have more money in your wallet to spend wherever you wind up.
The good news is that by making a few changes here and there to how you act behind the wheel – and how your car is configured – you can noticeably reduce the amount of fuel you burn when you head out on the road. With that in mind, let’s take a look at six easy tricks you can employ to make sure you pay less at the pump this summer.
1. Become A Better Driver
How you actually operate your vehicle has a huge bearing on how efficiently you burn gasoline – it’s as simple as that. When you drive aggressively on the highway, which can be characterized by quick acceleration and hard braking, you stand to burn as much as 33% more gasoline than if you drove calmly and relaxed.
So remember, you’re not on a race track. You are driving a large vehicle so you can get to where you’re going – along with everyone else. You’ll get there when you get there; there’s no sense in driving like a maniac.
Remember, you want to get where you’re going in one piece.
2. Tune Up Your Car
If your car isn’t running optimally, it won’t burn gas as efficiently. According to recent research, a clogged air filter can result in 20% less fuel efficiency. Similarly, spark plugs that are past their prime can also reduce the effectiveness of gasoline by about 12%.
So if you’re going to take a car coast-to-coast – or even if you’re going to drive a couple hundred miles to see your parents or head to the beach – you might want to bring her in to the mechanic for a tuneup prior to proverbially setting sail on the asphalt seas.
3. Make Sure Your Tires Are Inflated
In addition to properly inflated tires lasting longer and being safer than their over- and under inflated peers, tires that are inflated to proper levels are much better for your gas mileage, too.
You stand to improve your gas mileage by 3.3% when your tires are properly inflated, so prior to heading out on a trip, make sure you stop by a gas station to gauge how much air is in your tires and adjust the levels accordingly.
4. Remember, Idling Is Bad
Stuck on the highway in a traffic jam? Waiting to pick up your road trip partner who takes forever to get ready? If it looks like you’re going to have to sit where you are for the foreseeable future, you might want to shut off your car.
Generally speaking, you’ll burn one-quarter of a gallon of fuel when you idle for about 15 minutes. In other words, you’ll burn gas and travel zero miles – which isn’t so good for your gas mileage. Or your wallet, for that matter.
5. Neglect Your Air Conditioning
To get better gas mileage, it’s in your best interest to try and go as long as you can without turning on your air conditioning. In very hot temperatures, using the A/C can reduce gas mileage by 25% or more.
If you want to do even better, you could always drive with your windows up, too, to reduce the strain on your engine due to wind resistance. If you’re not that adventurous, keep your A/C off and your windows down. Your wallet will thank you.
6. Control Your Speed
When traveling at speeds of more than 50 miles per hour, your car’s aerodynamics are increasingly degraded with open windows. Therefore it’s better to use you’re A/C at highway speeds, and to drive with the windows rolled down at low speeds.
It’s also important to remember that the above list is not all-inclusive, but by becoming more conscientious behind the wheel and thinking more about how you’re burning fuel, chances are, you’ll be able to burn it more efficiently. That’s something that’s great for both your wallet and the environment.