The summer travel season is here, but the cost of gas is enough to make some families think twice about taking a family vacation. It doesn’t have to be that way, if you follow these five tips for saving on gas during a family vacation road trip.
These five tips for saving on gas come from Ronald M. Weiers, author of “GA$ SMART$: Hundreds of Small Ways to Save Big at the Pump” and seven other automotive books.
1. Relax in the Vehicular Parade. It’s inevitable: At some point, you will be trapped within a stream of vehicles on a curvy road or in a no-passing zone. Regardless of what you say or do, you will have absolutely no control over your rate of progress during this time. In this situation, the typical driver alternates between the accelerator pedal and brake pedal as though they were buttons on a keyboard. This jerky driving is very inefficient. Your best strategy is to relax, listen to some music, and remember that you will eventually be the person at the beginning of the parade.
2. Obey the Speed Limits. Speed limits exist for safety reasons, but they contribute to fuel economy as well. Many drivers routinely exceed speed limits, assuming that either they won’t get caught or that police officers will cut them a little slack. In doing so, they’re wasting fuel and risking accidents or speeding tickets that could boost their insurance premiums by an increment far beyond what it costs for either fuel or traffic court. If the speed limit is 60 mph, exceeding it can cost a lot of gas—according to the EPA, each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph can reduce your fuel economy by about 8 percent, and that equates to a pretty hefty discount at the pump.
3. Be Gentle and Smooth. This title might imply some degree of inappropriateness for a family-rated book. However, the very best thing you can do to get the most miles per gallon from your vehicle is to be gentle and smooth in everything you do. You should pretend you have two raw eggs in the car—one resting on the accelerator pedal and the other resting on the brake pedal. Only rarely, when you really do need to get from point A to point B in minimum time, should you pretend that these eggs are hard boiled.
4. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated. Underinflated tires are dangerous and inefficient, and their increased rolling resistance can greatly reduce your fuel economy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, when all four tires are underinflated, fuel economy will be reduced by 0.3 percent for each pound of underinflation. Thus, if your tires are all underinflated by 10 pounds, your fuel economy will be reduced by 3 percent. Check your tires at least as often as your vehicle manufacturer recommends, and check them when they are cold. Tire pressure recommendations can be found in your owner’s manual, or on a sticker on the trunk lid, doors, or door frames.
5. Obey the ‘See’ Rule. Before you leave the interstate for the food or fuel you’ve seen advertised on a billboard, consider the “see” rule: If you can’t see the establishment on its sign from the interstate, keep on going. Don’t get caught chasing a restaurant that is five or six miles from the interstate. Falling for this ruse wastes both time and fuel. Also, it’s usually best to pull off for food or gasoline only at exits where you know there are at least two or three businesses of each type advertised prior to the exit.