Sure, average gas prices are still the highest they’ve been in years, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your summer road trip. It’s one of America’s greatest travel traditions! Here are some tips to help you save on your summer road trip.
Getting your car ready
Before you climb behind the wheel, here are some main preparations you’ll want to make. This will probably take some time, so start a few days before your trip.
Check tires regularly
Check your owners manual or the label on the door jam of your car to see what the proper tire pressure should be. Adjust the pressure in your tires when they’re cold, which means they haven’t been driven on for at least four hours. Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure improves fuel economy.
image via 8tracks.com
Check cooling and air conditioning systems
The coolant in the cooling system needs to be checked twice a year and flushed and replaced as necessary. If your car has a cabin air filter, make sure it’s clean. Checking your vehicle’s radiator cap at the start of the summer driving season is a good idea, too. Given the temperatures it’s continually exposed to, its internal rubber gasket can end up cracked or damaged.
Change oil on schedule and keep full
Engine oil must be replaced at recommended intervals found in your vehicle’s owner manual, usually every 5,000 miles or 6 months. Between changes, be sure to check the oil level on a monthly basis, adding fresh oil whenever necessary.
Lighting and visibility
Check your headlights to make sure they all work and that there are no hidden wiring problems. Finally, clean your windows, replace worn wipers with a fresh set, and check to make sure that the washer-fluid in the car is full.
Gas saving tips
Once you are ready to hit the road, here are some gas saving tips to help you make the most of your summer road trip. Gas prices don’t just seem to go up around weekends and holidays, they really do. So, don’t wait until the weekend to fill up your tank. Try to fill it up earlier in the week for your weekend road trip.
Watch Your Driving Technique. Paying close attention to the driving conditions around you will be worth it. When on the highway, drive the speed limit or as close to 55 mph as possible. Driving slower can boost mileage by 5 percent.
Avoid stopping and starting abruptly because accelerating from a standstill requires extra fuel. Instead, be aware of the timing of red lights so you can slowly coast to the light and reach it as it turns green-without coming to a full stop.
Use cruise control where traffic and road conditions allow it. Automatic fuel use is much more waste-free than trying to maintain a constant speed using your lead foot.
If you’re driving around town you’ll get better fuel economy if you turn the AC off and roll the windows down. But as soon as you start traveling at highway speeds, the wind resistance plays a big part in fuel economy and you’ll do better by rolling the windows up and turning the air conditioning on.
A GPS device is a useful road trip tool. It can prevent you from getting lost, which can not only be dangerous, but a waste of gas as well. Look for one that can calculate the shortest route between two points, and be sure the device can tell you if you are going to hit traffic.
You should also have an emergency kit handy in case you break down in an unfamiliar place. Your emergency kit should include:
- Warm blankets
- A flashlight
- Jumper cables
- Tools to change a tire
- A fully charged cell phone
- A first-aid kit
- A Map
It’s also wise to subscribe to a roadside assistance plan — just make sure you know where to call in an emergency and what kind of assistance your policy includes.
It’s also important to take frequent breaks. Driving through the night may seem like a good idea in theory, but in reality, it’s dangerous. Your risk of falling asleep at the wheel or committing other serious driving errors is much higher when you’re suffering from a lack of sleep. If you’re feeling tired or having trouble focusing, pull over. Take a break at a rest stop and wait until you feel fully aware before you start driving again.
Whatever your destination this summer, whether it’s a beach getaway, an amusement park, or a scenic drive, these tips are sure to make your road trip as headache-free as possible, all while saving you some extra cash. Happy driving!