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It’s 2022, and travel is more expensive than ever, so people are taking fewer road trips this year than in previous years. The Conference Board’s June report indicated that 22.7% fewer Americans planned on taking a summer road trip this year. Part of the reason is the high average national price of gas, which is currently $4.413 but was as high as $4.96 in June.
Before you cancel your summer road trip due to the cost of gas, implement a few of the tips below to improve your gas mileage.
8 Tips to Improve Your Gas Mileage to Keep Your Road Trip Affordable
Whether you do all of the tips below or just one or two, you’ll save a few cents at the pump, which can add up quickly on a road trip with multiple fuel stops.
1. Prevent gas evaporation by parking in the shade and keeping your gas tank sealed.
Gas evaporation occurs when your gas is exposed to air, and it happens more quickly in the summer heat. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to prevent the gas you spend your hard-earned money on from evaporating before you get the chance to use it:
- Always securely tighten your gas cap.
- Park in the shade whenever possible.
- Fuel up in the early morning or late evening when it’s cooler
Parking in the shade and using a windshield sun shield also keeps your car cooler so you’ll use less fuel getting your car to a more comfortable temperature when you first get in.
2. Use cruise control as often as it’s safe.
Cruise control helps you maintain a consistent speed, increasing your fuel efficiency by up to 14%. Plus, it’ll help you avoid speeding if you have a lead foot on those highway straightaways!
Just make sure you use cruise control wisely, as it can be dangerous in hazardous conditions.
3. Drive slower when it’s safe to do so.
While the most common interstate highway speed today is 70 mph, driving slower can improve your fuel efficiency. Research shows that for every five mph over 50 mph, you can expect to spend an additional $0.31 per gallon.
While we don’t recommend traveling at 50 on an interstate with cars going 80 passing you, use this as an opportunity to take the road less traveled. Ditch the interstate for two-lane local highways and see parts of the country you’d ordinarily speed through.
4. Check your tire pressure often.
Properly inflated tires can save you about $.10 a gallon by preventing the engine from working harder to overcome resistance caused by underinflated tires.
Newer cars rely on pressure sensors, but it’s always a good idea to check manually before you set out on a road trip. It’s also worth taking your car in for a tire rotation so they are properly aligned.
5. Avoid idling.
Turning your engine off can save gasoline if you’re sitting in traffic or pulling over to eat in the car. In an hour, an idling engine sucks up a quarter to a half-gallon of gas, which can add up quickly.
Balance your desire to save money on fuel with the need to stay cool. Temperatures can rise dangerously fast in a car, so keep the windows down when you turn off the car and turn the vehicle on periodically to run the air conditioner.
6. Stay up-to-date on maintenance.
Replace spark plugs and air filters to keep your car fuel efficient. Worn spark plugs can cost you $.94 per gallon, and a dirty air filter can decrease gas mileage by 10%. Also, ask your mechanic to check your brakes for worn calipers, which in addition to being dangerous, can cause brake drag and negatively impact your fuel efficiency.
Before you embark on your road trip, address any warning lights on your dashboard. Not only will it keep everyone in the car safe, but it can also address any additional issues that might negatively impact your fuel efficiency.
7. Pack lightly to reduce weight.
Before you pack the car, take out anything you don’t need, as the weight of your vehicle can take a toll on your gas mileage by increasing resistance. Avoid using car top carriers if you can, as those add weight and impact your car’s aerodynamics.
When you are packing for your trip, only bring the essentials. Consider packing fewer clothes and using a washer and dryer at your destination. Instead of bringing a stack of library books that weigh a lot, use an e-reader. Buy toiletries and food for your stay once you arrive.
8. Accelerate and brake smoothly.
There’s a reason you get better gas mileage on the highway than in the city: frequent acceleration and braking use more gasoline than maintaining a consistent speed. Be mindful of this as you move through traffic on your road trip, and accelerate and brake as smoothly as possible when it’s safe.
9. Skip the premium gas.
Unless your car specifically calls for it, use regular 87-octane gasoline whenever possible. This simple switch can save you $.20-$.40 per gallon without negatively impacting your car.
We hope these tips from The Zebra will keep your road trip affordable so you can venture out with your family this summer, but if you and your family are staying local this summer, check out our list of summer staycation ideas.
Guest post: Jen Baker is a content writer specializing in lifestyle topics. This summer you can find her road tripping with her husband to Atlanta and St. Louis from her home in Ohio.
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