There is nothing like taking a long road trip on a sultry summer weekend. Add a Monday holiday? Just means one more day in the Great Outdoors. Whether you are day tripping, finding your inner weekend warrior, or packing the family into the minivan for a week on the road, you are concerned about gas mileage. While gas prices seem to have stabilized around the $3 a gallon mark, you’re still making a sizeable investment every time you fill up. Here are some tips to help you stretch that gas dollar:
Drive at a moderate speed – This is the ABCs of gas mileage. Consumer Reports once tested a Honda Accord at a steady 65 mph and the car’s fuel economy dropped from 49 mpg to 42 mpg compared to 55 mph. Driving at 75 mph cost the car another 5 mpg..
Don’t stop and start – Obviously avoid hard acceleration and braking whenever possible. Consumer Reports tested an older Camry and found that frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Obviously there are times when you can’t avoid traffic, but when you can, look ahead and drive as smoothly as possibly.
Remember aerodynamics –At highway speeds, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. Of course, some weekend outings often require the use of a roof rack, but try to avoid carry things on top of your vehicle when you don’t have to. Even an empty rack can create enough drag to suck gas mileage down 5 mpg.
Check your vehicle – Under-inflated tires are one of the most common causes of poor gas mileage because they have more rolling resistance, which means your engine has to work harder to keep your car moving. A dirty air filter restricts the flow of air into the engine, which harms performance and economy. Motor oil that has lost its viscosity (if it has turned black, that’s a hint) also makes your engine work harder. That means wasted gasoline.
Some myths about gas mileage savings include morning fill-ups allegedly get you more gas for the money. Gas may be denser in the cool morning, but the temperature of the gasoline coming out of the fuel nozzle changes very little, if at all. Open tailgates and tonneau covers and another myth for improving gas mileage. These can actually hurt gas mileage.
Of course, it never hurts to check in with your insurance professional to see if there are other ways to save, as well. Make sure you are receiving all the discounts you are entitled to. Then hit the open road and have a great trip!