Ease the Pedal to the Metal: Gas saving Tips for your next road trip

Tiny Car #1Are you planning to hit the road for your next vacation? Road trips are great if you don’t mind long drives, bugs on your grille and the occasional snoring of one of your passengers. How you drive affects the overall budget of your trip because aside from your accommodations, fuel is probably the other major thing you have to consider in allocating your vacation fund. Save money on gas and add it to your fun budget by following these tried and tested fuel saving tips.

Drive a Fuel Efficient Car

OK, this is pretty obvious, but if you plan to go on a road trip in your 25 year old Toyota, you may as well scrap the whole trip. Older cars burn through fuel faster than a bank loan-denied Human Torch, so you should consider this first and foremost before planning any road trip. If it’s a trip to the Costco a couple of blocks from your house, fine. But a cross country road trip from Vancouver to Montreal? Better call in ahead to a Toyota dealer because you may have to buy a new Toyota – if you even get as far as Ontario. If you don’t have a fuel efficient vehicle, rent one.

Fill ‘er up on Weekdays

Gas prices soar over the weekend and skyrocket during the holidays. If you’re smarter than the average bear, you may want to do all you’re pumping on the weekday, preferably Mondays through Thursdays, but not past 10AM on Thursdays because this is when the stations are most likely to manipulate the pump prices in anticipation of the weekend.

Stop emulating Vin Diesel

Ease off on the accelerator. Driving between 40-60 mph is ideal because going over 70 mph significantly increases vehicle drag, which in turn increases fuel consumption because the engine has to deal with the extra wind factor. On the other hand, driving below 40 mph compromises optimal engine efficiency and makes the car sip more fuel.

Also, avoid jackrabbit acceleration. The other drivers that you share the same stoplight with aren’t there to race you. Accelerate slowly when the light turns green. One last tip is that when you see the light go red, step off the gas and just coast. Stick to the middle or the slow lane if you do this to avoid getting rear-ended.

Follow That Truck

If you’re on the highway, there are bound to be big container trucks. If you don’t mind going a little slower than usual, get behind them (drafting) and let them act as a wind break for your vehicle. This will significantly decrease your own drag, saving you a little bit of gas in the process. Don’t go on tailgating them though, because the last place you want to be in is under the truck when the driver slams on the brakes all of a sudden.

You also may want to close all your windows when drafting, because trucks and other vehicles spew out deadly carbon monoxide and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that. Also, driving with your windows open increases your vehicles’ drag, so if you really want some fresh air, wait till you get to the city or the nearest town. Here, you can roll down your windows and turn off the AC for more fuel savings.

Check your Tire Pressure

Probably the most overlooked gas saving tip is poorly inflated tires. Check the doorjamb of your ride for the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) of your tires. Always carry a tire pressure monitor in the glove box. You can also use the ones in the gas stations. If you use aftermarket rims that are a few inches bigger than stock, you may want to call the manufacturer because the PSI of your tires will most likely be different than stock.

See ‘Ya

On your next road trip, it won’t hurt a bit to plan ahead. Map out your route well and know where the nearest gas stations are from the roads you plan to take. Use your phone and download a gas saving app like GasBuddy so you know where the nearest gas station is relative to where you are. Use the money you saved on gas to buy more beer for the trip, but please don’t drink and drive.

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6 Signs that Your Car is a Rolling Piece of Junk

For sale!!!How do you know if you’re driving a clunker? If your car’s name includes the words Gremlin or Pacer, stop reading and go buy yourself a new car this minute. You know these cars are bad when Disney calls them out by basing characters called “The Lemons” on these vehicles in the movie “Cars 2.” For the rest of you who need help discerning whether your car is, in fact, a rolling piece of junk, here are your six signs.

Sign #6: A Bucket of Bolts

You say your car makes noises that sound like a bunch of bolts rattling around in a bucket? The crystal ball reveals many visits to an automotive repair shop in your future. Or, perhaps you’ve already spent hundreds of dollars over the past year fixing your fixer-up. If that’s the case, it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.

Buying a new car isn’t as difficult as you may think. Certainly, getting a new-to-you car is better than pouring money into a losing proposition (i.e. your clunker). Use the Kelly Blue Book or other method to determine the value of your car. If you’re spending more money on repairs than the car’s worth, it’s time to upgrade.

Sign #5: Your Car has a Drinking Problem

Old cars drink too much gas. This drinking problem ends up draining your wallet dry at the pump. If you drive a great deal and have an older vehicle that isn’t fuel efficient, consider the money you’d save with a newer car that has better mileage. In addition, clunkers may have other problems such as bad tires that put a drain on fuel efficiency.

Sign #4: It Plays Cassettes

First, congratulations on knowing what an 8-track cassette is, and double kudos for still owning a device that plays them. What’s that you say? Your car plays the smaller cassettes? While it may be kind of kitsch to have a cassette player, it’s definitely a sign you’re driving a hunk of junk. Dump your mix tape and find yourself a better ride.

Sign #3: The Oh-No Odometer

If that ever-rolling set of numbers on your dashboard has hit 100,000, you’re starting to flirt with clunker territory. A car with that many miles is more likely to need repairs than cars with less wear and tear. While many cars built in the last 15 years can handle six-digit miles, older models don’t have the parts to withstand that level of use. It’s best to evaluate your car’s worth against typical repairs that come post-100,000 miles.

The level of routine maintenance your car has had during its lifespan impacts how well it will fair with this many miles. Hitting this mileage milestone is a good time to evaluate your car and decide if it’s ready for the junk yard.

Sign #2: Undiagnosed Problems

Does your car have chronic warning light syndrome? With this condition, one or more warning lights on the dashboard remain on whenever the car is in operation. When these symptoms first appeared, you took the car to a mechanic who went through the usual check list. However, no one could give you a clear reason why your car was suffering, trying to communicate its need yet failing miserably.

Sign #1: You’re Afraid to Drive Your Car Long Distances

Taking your vehicle out on the open road for any period of time makes you nervous, nervous enough to have the cell phone fully charged and emergency food and drinks on hand. As you click off the miles, you wonder if a serious problem is going to rear its ugly head and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it’s the car’s age, mileage, clunking sounds, or recent repairs that make your stomach turn. Whatever the cause, if you don’t feel comfortable taking your car beyond the city limits, you may be driving a piece of junk.

Rid yourself of the car that only goes in whatever direction the wind is blowing. Upgrade to a newer vehicle that will save you time, money, and headaches. Sure, you may miss your junker, but in the end, you’ll know you made the right decision.

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