Right around the time school lets out for the summer and a vacation starts becoming a reality instead a distant dream, gas prices often start to rise. Rather than letting that stand between your tires and whatever destination you’ve been making plans for, give these tips a try instead to lower your gas mileage and make that tank of gas last longer.
1 - Don’t Drive Aggressively
Did you know that driving aggressively can negatively affect your gas mileage by a huge margin of 33% when highway driving? That’s a whole third of your gas tank, wasted on hard braking, rapid acceleration and deceleration, and weaving through traffic. It’s not only extremely dangerous to drive that way, but it’s terrible for your gas mileage. Taking a calmer, smoother approach will be much safer, and much better for your gas tank. And really, totaling your car would be a bad thing to remember your vacation by.
2 - Turn Down the AC
Sadly, one of the worst things for your gas mileage is the thing that makes driving in the summer bearable; the air conditioner. Air conditioners use up a lot of energy to pump out that cold air, and therefore need a lot of fuel. This reduces your fuel efficiency by more than 25%. Short trips are especially bad on fuel economy, when you’ve got the AC blasting to combat the stiflingly hot air inside your car. Rolling down the windows to let out some of that heat and parking your car in the shade will help, as well as turning the AC down when you’re at lower speeds.
3 - Check Your Tire Pressure
Tire pressure that is too low or too high can absolutely affect your gas mileage, as the tires aren’t operating at peak performance. Many mechanics offer a free tire pressure check when you take your car in for service, and it’s not hard to do yourself either. Your car’s individual tire pressure psi (pounds per square inch) should be listed in the glovebox or on the sticker inside the doorjamb, and you can check it with a tire pressure tool. It’s also a great idea to get this done before you head out on vacation.
4 - Slow Down
Lower highway speeds are more fuel efficient, that’s just the facts. Once you hit 50 mph, you’re in a fairly sweet zone for fuel efficiency. But once you go at higher speeds, and it starts dropping rapidly. Every 5 mph above 50 may cost as much as $.20 per each gallon, where fuel efficiency is concerned. Considering how far you might be driving to reach your vacation destination, those pennies add up quick into dollars that you could be spending on something else.
5 - Don’t Idle
Idling the engine isn’t recommended even in the winter, and it’s especially bad during the summer. Idling is not only one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, it’s also terrible for your gas mileage because your car is on and running, but not going anywhere. Idling can waste up to three cents of fuel per minute, and up to a whole half gallon of fuel in an hour. Anytime you’re stopped for more than 10 seconds, turn off the engine, air conditioning notwithstanding. Fuel-injection engines make this easily the most efficient, fuel-saving method.
6 - Change Oil Regularly
This goes along with checking your tire pressure, in terms of keeping your vehicle in good condition, especially before a vacation. A quick oil check can give you an idea how your level and oil quality is holding up, and many mechanics will provide a sticker when you get an oil change that will tell you when you’re due for another one. As time passes, engine oil gets thicker, and this causes the engine to work harder to pump it. Replacing old, thick sludge with fresh new oil can be a big boost to your car’s performance, and lead to better gas mileage.
Doing what you can to save money on gas is a great way to get your summer vacation off to a great start. Better gas mileage is money in your wallet, and it can be better for your car, too. Trying out these tips could be just the trick to make your car more fuel efficient, giving you one less thing to worry about as you try to beat the summer heat.