6 WAYS TO IMPROVE FUEL EFFICIENCY ON A ROAD TRIP
From trips to see family and friends to the perfect vacation get-away, road trips are a common theme of Summer. With a wide expanse of the country accessible by car, your destination options are nearly endless. Unfortunately, your vehicle can require a large amount of fuel to get there. You can make each gallon stretch a bit longer with these six tips.
1. Check Your Tires
Maintaining the correct pressure in your tires is not only safe, it can help you save fuel. Over or under-inflated tires can negatively affect your fuel economy, so before your trip, make sure your tires are at the manufacturer’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch).1 The recommended tire pressure is usually printed on the inside of your driver’s side door. Some newer models of vehicles even provide pressure monitors that alert you when your tires need inflation attention.
2. Shed Some of the Load
While suitcases and gear are an essential part of the road trip, shedding any extra weight can help increase your fuel efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG (miles per gallon) by about 1%.2 Adding the extra weight on top of your vehicle isn’t a great option either. A large, blunt roof-top cargo box, for example, can reduce fuel economy by around 2% to 8% in city driving, 6% to 17% on the highway, and 10% to 25% at interstate speeds.2 Careful packing and shedding unnecessary items can help you save money on gas.
3. Compare Gas Prices
Checking gas prices before you pull up to the pump can help you find the best fuel price. GasBuddyTM looked at the last seven years’ worth of gas price data and found that up to $1.21 per gallon separated the most expensive and least expensive stations.3 With a little internet research on your tablet or smartphone, you can plan ahead and save on fuel.
4. Watch Your Speed
Every vehicle reaches optimal fuel efficiency at a different speed, but gas mileage usually decreases significantly after 50 mph (miles per hour). A study conducted by the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California found that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.4 The U.S. Department of Energy provides an online tool for you to calculate exactly how much you overpay based on your vehicle, speed, and gas price. While cruise control can help you maintain a certain speed, it can also cause you to rapidly accelerate uphill, so it is always wise to watch your speedometer. Driving 75 mph in a 55-mph zone hurts your fuel efficiency, endangers fellow travelers, and can get you an expensive speeding ticket. Sticking to the speed limit can save your fuel while you take the time to enjoy the sights along your route.
5. Drive smarter and safer
Quick stops and zooming ahead wastes the precious gas in your vehicle’s tank. Oak Ridge National Laboratory reports that aggressive driving behaviors like sudden acceleration and breaking can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic. 5 Being aware of your surroundings and the timing of lights can help you anticipate stops and starts sooner. Easing off and onto the gas pedal can ultimately improve your fuel efficiency.
6. Stop Overfilling the Tank
You may think it’s a great idea to keep clicking the nozzle at the gas pump until you get every drop possible, but the reality is that fuel in an overfilled tank can slosh or seep right out. When the automatic nozzle clicks off, stop pumping because your tank is full. The Car Care Council says that overfilled or improperly closed tanks result in the vaporization of 147 million gallons of fuel every year. When you stop overfilling your tank and seal it properly, you’ll maximize fuel efficiency while reducing carbon emissions.
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Find a Location
1. 8 Ways Science Can Save Gas On Your Summer Road Trip ucsusa.org
2. Driving More Efficiently fueleconomy.gov
4. Ecodrive I-80: A Large Sample Fuel Economy Feedback Field Test Final Report Transportation Studies at University of California, Davis
Gas-Saving Road Trip Tips travelandleisure.com
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