Heading out for some fun in the sun? Get the most out of your vacation budget by ensuring you are maximizing your fuel dollars.
Keeping up with a regular service schedule is the most important thing you can do to keep your gas mileage in the best shape. Dirty fuel injectors, bad spark plugs, or faulty sensors can all be costing you at the pump. A clogged air filter can cause you to burn as much as 15% more fuel. If you are past due for maintenance, bring your vehicle in for service before you hit the road.
Get an oil change right before you head out. Thick, sludgy oil takes more energy to pump through the engine compared to fresh oil. Depending on your vehicle and driving habits, switching to a synthetic from a conventional oil may also improve your fuel economy. Ask you service advisor at your next visit.
Low pressure increases the rolling resistance of your tires on the ground, costing you as much as 3% more fuel. Tires lose pressure slowly over time, and their pressure changes with the outdoor temperature. Check them regularly in the morning while they’re still cold and out of direct sunlight. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is located on a sticker in the driver’s door jamb or in the owner’s manual; it is not the pressure printed on the tire.
Hypermiling is a collection of driving techniques aimed at achieving the best possible fuel economy. The main take away? Gentle acceleration and coasting stops instead of hard braking are going to get you the furthest for your fuel dollars. On relatively flat highways, use cruise control when safe to do so. If you are on hilly terrain, cruise control will actually consume more fuel than without.
Pack only what you need, and leave the extras at home. The heavier the car, the more energy it takes to get it in motion.
Reduce drag when traveling at highway speeds. Remove any sports equipment racks that aren’t needed. Stow luggage in the trunk rather than on the roof rack whenever possible. The open windows to A/C efficiency threshold is roughly 45mph on an average car. Any faster than that, keep the windows up and use the air conditioner.
Idling for hours with the air conditioner blasting will cause a noticeable drop in your fuel economy. When possible, plan your route to go around areas of heavy traffic, or travel at times of day when traffic will be lighter. Google Maps is an effective tool for monitoring traffic in real time, as is Waze.
Save yourself some money this summer. By keeping your car well-maintained, packing light, and planning ahead you can put all those saved fuel dollars into more vacation fun.