Our family takes a lot of road trips throughout the year. We’re on the road for at least a 3 hour trip every few months since both sets of grandparents live out of town. You can probably imagine this can add up in gasoline costs and can make travel unaffordable when the price per gallon starts moving up.
We’re an economical car and gas guzzling SUV family. The SUV is the family car and it’s what we use when traveling because the economical car isn’t big enough to haul our family, dog and the luggage. As an aside, we’d get a more economical family car to try and save money, but the SUV is paid off and in good working condition.
It’s important to save for such travel and look for ways to minimize costs. SmartMoney.com published a few other tips to maximize your gas mileage which caught my attention.
- Pack light: Every 100 pounds of added weight in the back of a car can reduce its fuel economy by as much as 2%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Keep up with maintenance: Following the car’s recommended maintenance schedule can help keep it operating at maximum efficiency. An engine in need of a tune-up operates about 4% less efficiently, according to the DOE.
- Swap vehicles: Consumers with multiple vehicles should drive the more fuel-efficient one whenever possible. The difference in miles per gallon is especially obvious on long trips.
- Check the tires: Under- or over-inflated tires change the way the car handles, adding drag and speeding wear, which can reduce fuel efficiency by about 3%.
- Use the right motor oil: Check the driver’s manual for the proper grade. Using the wrong one can lower fuel efficiency by 1% to 2%.
- Create a fuel efficient route: On longer trips, try to factor in weather, construction and traffic to avoid periods when the car is idling — which gets you zero miles per gallon.
- Drive responsibility: The government estimates that the most fuel efficient driving speed is between 40 and 60 miles per hour for most vehicles. Drivers who begin following the speed limit should see dramatic improvements in fuel economy.
- Skip premium fuel: Aside from high-end sports cars that list premium fuel as a requirement in their owner’s manuals, most cars will do fine on regular unleaded
Overall, we do pretty well with the tips mentioned with some areas for improvement. While we aren’t driving around boxes of rocks in the back of the SUV we’re packed down with quite a few items. We could always do better to minimize the things we take on our trips.
We’re definitely getting better at the maintenance of our vehicles. We have the oil changed on schedule and as the cars are getting more miles we’ve become more series about following the suggested maintenance schedule.
Check the tires is a tip my dad taught me long ago. The more air in the tires may result in a rougher ride, but it will definitely improve your fuel efficiency. This is on the list of things to do before leaving town.
While I’ve had some tickets in the past few years, I’ve learned to slow down. It’s not worth the cost of the ticket nor the wasted gas when speeding. Yes, driving faster uses more gas.
So, how are you measuring up to these tips? Could you slow down, pack lighter, take care of your car better or perhaps user a more efficient fuel route?