Are 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 in Toronto 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.
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.