Spring is here and many families are excitedly planning road trips. No matter what the destination, a road trip allows travelers the opportunity to go at their own speed and explore interesting sights along the way.
With gas prices steadily increasing, however, road trips are taking a toll on the family budget. Gas prices are rising across the country; drivers will likely see another round of increases in the near future.
According to AAA The Auto Club Group, gas prices are at the most expensive point since 2014. AAA cites planned and unplanned refinery maintenance, rising demand and the switch to summer gasoline as contributors to the springtime rise in gas prices.
Here are 11 tips to help make sure you don’t have to give up your spring road trip due to high fuel prices. These easy-to-adopt strategies could save your vacation.
Mapping out your route ahead of time will give you an idea of how many miles you’ll travel. You can estimate your gas cost by factoring in how many miles you typically get from a gallon of gas. Be sure to keep in mind additional miles and gas costs that might result from sightseeing and other detours along the way.
Check to make sure your tire pressure is at the manufacturer’s recommended pounds per square inch (PSI). This will improve the performance of your vehicle and reduce your miles per gallon (MPG), saving you money when you travel long distances.
Having your tires and wheels property balanced and rotated will increase your fuel efficiency. Uneven wear on tires and unbalanced wheels lead to shaky wheels, which consume more gas.
Before you leave on your trip, take your vehicle in for an oil change, tune-up and inspection. Make sure your mechanic tops off your anti-freeze, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Have him check your belts, hoses and brakes for signs of wear. If you’re headed somewhere warm, make sure he checks out your air conditioning system. Taking time to ensure your vehicle is in top working order will reduce your gas costs as well as save you stress in the long run.
The heavier your vehicle, the more miles per gallon you will use and the higher your gas expenses. Be mindful about the weight in your car and try to eliminate non-essential items, like extra seats or extra luggage.
Make sure you’re prepared in the event your car breaks down. Check your spare tire, make sure your jack is in your trunk, and pack a few tools for minor repairs. Consider investing in a roadside assistance program. They’re not expensive and can prove to be invaluable. Most roadside assistance programs include jump starts, free towing and lost key assistance. Ask if your auto insurance can add this service for a few extra dollars a month before you leave on your trip.
Cars typically get better gas mileage on freeways than on city roads, where more frequent braking and accelerating use more gas. But driving faster doesn’t equate to better mileage. Most cars get better gas mileage when traveling 50-55 miles per hour (mph). Follow the speed limit and use cruise control when driving on the freeway to help moderate speed and get better gas mileage.
Cruise control is helpful for straight, flat stretches on the freeway, but it will waste fuel when on an incline because it will try to maintain a steady speed as tightly as possible. It’s better for the driver to stay attentive and maintain speed in a more efficient way when driving on a hilly terrain.
There are a variety of free apps you can use to find the best prices on gas. Gas price apps make it easy to search for the lowest priced fuel near your location, saving you hundreds of dollars on a long trip. Gas Buddy, Gas Guru and CheapGas are all popular gas-finding apps.
While it may be comforting to know your gas tank is full, filling up too often can be a drain on your fuel economy. An emptier tank weighs less and reduces your fuel cost. If you let your gas tank get down to ¼ full, you’ll be pulling less weight and therefore see a small increase in gas mileage, which will add up over time.
Idling wastes fuel, costs money and causes pollution. If you need to be stationary for more than 30 seconds, turn off your car. Don’t let the engine run unless you’re ready to drive.
Road trips are a lot of fun. Enjoying new sights with people you care about can be a great way to spend your vacation. Employing the tips above will help you save money on gas and reduce your stress level. So have fun, relax and enjoy yourself on your next road trip!
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