Do These 5 Things Before Your Next Road Trip to Increase Fuel Efficiency

Don't let the cost of gas ruin your road trip! These tips will help you increase your vehicle's fuel efficiency.

Have you looked at gas prices lately?

I know, I don’t want to look either. But it’s right in my face every time I have to stop at a gas pump. It’s an unfortunate side effect of driving, am I right?

But don’t let the high fuel costs ruin that fun road trip you’ve been planning. There are a few things that you can start doing now, and continue doing during your trip, that will help you save at least a few dollars at the pump.

Related: The Best Healthy Snacks to Pack for Your Next Road Trip

Before you head out on your next road trip, I’ve got a few tips to help you boost your fuel efficiency and save some cash on gas!

Chill Out and Drive the Speed Limit

speed limit sign

Sorry to anyone with a lead foot, but it’s time to abide by the speed limit. On top of that, it’s time to cool it on the aggressive driving, too. These are two of the biggest things you can do to improve your fuel economy.

Following other drivers too closely, speeding off from the light as quickly as you can, slamming on the brakes only to mash the gas pedal again… all of these things are eating up all your car’s gas. And while these instances might only reduce your fuel efficiency by a couple of miles per gallon, it definitely adds up over time.

Driving extremely fast is also bad for fuel economy. Every vehicle reaches optimal fuel economy at a different speed, but usually, gas mileage decreases pretty rapidly at speeds over 50 mph.

Now, I’m not suggesting you drive 45 mph on a highway with a posted limit of 65 mph, or anything. But, I am saying that maybe you shouldn’t blast through there at 80 mph if you are worried about saving money at the pump, because it’s definitely costing you. And if you’re on the highway, using your cruise control is a great way to ensure you keep a consistent speed.

Ensure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated

It seems kind of silly, but keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure level really does help you save a little on gas! You can improve your gas mileage just by checking your tires and making sure they are properly inflated.

We already know that under-inflated tires wear out faster, but they will also lower your gas mileage. For every 1 psi lost, you’re losing .1 percent of your gas mileage. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize your tires are at least 5 psi less than they should be — and you’re heading out on a long cross-country road trip. That little bit can really start to add up over time.

Don’t fall for the myth that over-inflating will boost gas mileage, though. It won’t give you any better fuel economy, and over-inflated tires will put you at greater risk for a blowout.

Keep Up With Regular Oil Changes

Auto mechanic performing car oil change

Motor oil is an important part of keeping your engine running because it lubricates the moving metal parts inside. By keeping your oil at the right amount and by using the right type, you’ll help your engine run efficiently. On the flip side, not having enough oil or using the wrong type could harm the engine’s efficiency.

Check the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual rather than relying on the sticker the mechanic put on your windshield the last time you got an oil change. Your manual should also list the recommended oil to use to make sure you’re doing it right.

Get Your Car a Check-Up

Every so often, it’s good to get a tune-up. Cars that are not running properly are likely also not getting proper fuel economy. All that routine maintenance is actually pretty important for keeping your gas mileage in check.

Related: Do These 5 Things Before Heading Out on Your Next Road Trip

There are plenty of common problems that can affect fuel economy: dirty or damaged fuel injectors, old air filters, dirty oxygen sensors, clogged fuel filters, dirty mass airflow sensors, and more. Some of these more serious issues might hurt your mileage by as much as 40 percent!

Skip the Premium Fuel

gas pump

I hate to say it, but that premium fuel you’ve been paying extra for… it’s not really doing you much good. While there are some vehicles that require it, for most it’s just “recommended.” And if it’s only recommended, you can switch to the regular octane stuff without harming your engine.

Switching to regular versus premium will mean that your car’s performance might suffer slightly – for example, it might be half a second slower going from 0 to 60 mph. It certainly isn’t something that the average driver would even notice. Besides, we just talked about not speeding, accelerating rapidly, or driving aggressively to protect that fuel economy, so an extra half of a second shouldn’t matter anyway!

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