Summer is here! (We hope you enjoyed the first week.) If you’re like many summer vacationers out there (about 63 percent according to a TripAdvisor poll), you’ll pack the car, fill up the tank, and hit the open roads to get to your vacation hotspot.
Though gas prices have been steadily dropping from their astronomical prices in the past 5 weeks, we’re still paying more for gas on average than last year. According to AAA, the average price of regular unleaded is $3.55 per gallon — $0.79 more than it was a year ago. To help you save, here are a few tips for increasing fuel economy on your summer road trips and getting the most bang for your buck (or 4).
1. Get appy
In the old days (you know, around 2006), we had to rely on Google Maps and other route-planning tools to map trips and reduce those stressful, “Where the heck are we?” moments.
Now, with smartphones and cool apps, you can not only map out your routes, but also check on traffic conditions, find the nearest and cheapest gas stations, look up roadside attractions, and locate local hangouts. By planning your route carefully, you can minimize your time spent driving in circles or stuck in traffic and also find the cheapest gas in town — no matter where you happen to be.
2. Do the dirty work
Though not necessarily fun, proper vehicle maintenance can help you save a lot of moolah in the long run. A well-tuned engine will increase gas mileage and reduce risks for breakdowns along the way.
As part of your tune-up, make sure you:
- Check the brakes (for obvious reasons)
- Check all filters and fluids (coolant, windshield washer, etc.)
- Check the hoses and belts
- Check the tires (to keep you safe and improve fuel efficiency)
- Check the gas cap (a damaged gas cap will increase emissions and fuel loss)
3. Pack smart
Minimalism isn’t just a Zen aesthetic — it can also help increase your mpg and make traveling that much easier. According to fueleconomy.gov, removing excess items from your trunk will increase mpg by 2 percent.
When it comes time to load up the car, put in the heavy items first, and then stack the little things around it. Avoid packing things on your roof since it can make the vehicle top heavy and increase wind drag (thereby lowering fuel efficiency). Plus, you never know what could fly off as you’re zooming down the highway.
Going somewhere this summer? Tell us where.