Part Vof the Vacation Savings Series. If you missed a segment, start at the beginning.
Taking a road trip does not have to break the bank. Many times you can drive to your destination for less than the cost of airfare. The bonus: No expensive rental car.
It is all in the preparation.
Maintaining your vehicle is the first line of cost-cutting.
1. Use the proper gasoline.
Your engine was designed to run on a specific octane grade. Use the correct grade of gasoline to increase gas mileage and reduce emissions.
2. Clean all filters.
The week before you leave on your road trip, treat your gasoline to remove debris from your tank. The day before you leave, change the fuel and air filters. Change your oil. Your car will run more efficiently and burn less gasoline.
3. Check the tires.
Improper tire inflation make vehicles burn more gasoline and produce more exhaust. Check the tire pressure and inflate as necessary. Check tread wear and replace tires if needed.
Fill ‘er up!
Save money at the gas pump by getting more gasoline for your dollar.
1. Buy gasoline early in the morning, before light when possible, or two hours after dark. The cold temperature of the ground makes the gasoline more dense, which translates into more gasoline per dollar.
2. Keep your tank full. A full tank produces the least amount of gas evaporation breakdown in your tank, which causes both reduced fuel economy and performance. Refill the tank before it gets below one-quarter tank.
3. Research gas prices on the Internet. Find the cheapest prices along your route and plan stops according to your current gas mileage.
On the road, again!
How you drive is the largest factor in how much gasoline you will use.
1. Drive courteously.
Racing to be first at the traffic light or rushing up to a stop sign wastes gasoline, making your car produce more exhaust. Sudden braking strains your motor. Let off of one petal and touch your foot to the floor before applying it to another pedal.
2. Drive slowly.
Lower revolutions per minute (RPM) help your car perform at its peak, use less gasoline and stay more efficient. Modern cars are designed to be most fuel efficient at 45 miles per hour (MPH).
3. Use cruise control whenever possible.
On flat terrain, cruise control saves more than 7% of gas compared to driving manually. Cruise control is not a good choice for mountainous areas, as your vehicle will burn more fuel maintaining speed climbing uphill.
4. Drive the appropriate vehicle or “pack lightly”.
Unless you are road tripping in a garbage truck, remove all items which add unnecessary weight. Straining the engine to carry excess weight burns more gasoline.
5. Drive the appropriate vehicle or “less is more”.
Drive the smallest vehicle possible. Rather than running cross-country in an eight-cylinder four-by-four, drive your compact sedan.
6. Use the air conditioning.
At speeds over 45 MPH, rolling the windows down causes significant drag on the vehicle. You will burn less gas with the windows up and the air conditioning on.
Everywhere I go.
These tips will help you save money on gasoline on your road trip, but are just as valuable on your everyday commute.
NEXT: Pitch a tent.
How do you save gasoline?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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