After being stuck close to home for the past couple of years, many families are eager to go on a well-deserved vacation. However, soaring gas prices nationwide present a new challenge for families across the US who are planning on a road trip this summer. Good news: there are several things you can do now to maximize your car’s fuel efficiency and get better gas mileage. Here are six pragmatic tips on how to save gas this summer and beyond from Peter Zavarelli, an automotive repair expert at JustAnswer.
How to get better gas mileage on your next road trip
1. Make sure your tires are aired up to the correct specifications
Most manufacturers leave a sticker on the driver’s side inside the door jamb or inside the fuel door with the tire specifications. It is a good idea to inflate to about 2 psi over that specification number to make up for temperature variations with the tires when driven on the road (as they generate heat which increases pressure) and the outside temperatures (as colder temperatures will lower pressure slightly).
The benefit: You can save roughly 3.3 percent on fuel if you have properly inflated tires. That's around 11 cents per gallon saved with the correct tire size and proper inflation.
2. Make sure your engine air filter is clean
It is recommended to replace it once a year. Most vehicles use a mass air flow sensor which aids the computer with telling it how much air is entering the engine. If this sensor becomes dirty or defective, the engine computer can/will push more fuel through the engine than is needed.
The benefit: People can save around 15-30 cents a gallon with a clean air filter and when the mass air flow sensor is clean and working properly.
3. Make sure the engine is running at the correct temperature
Most model vehicles will run about half way on the coolant temperature gauge. If it is running lower this will cause the engine to run too rich with too much fuel being added. In most cases, a simple thermostat replacement will resolve this issue.
The benefit: You can save around 3-4 cents per gallon with a properly working engine coolant thermostat/with the engine running at the correct temperature.
4. It is a good idea to have your braking system checked over
If a brake caliper or the brake master cylinder is putting excess pressure on the brake pads, this will cause the brakes to drag on the brake rotors which also leads to more fuel usage. If your brakes have an issue causing one or more brakes to drag, this can cause issues to where you may see a significant fuel consumption concern.
The benefit: Depending on the condition/drag, you could save anywhere from around 20 to 50 cents a gallon with a correctly operating brake system.
5. Take it easy when using the throttle/gas pedal
There is no hurry. In most cases, people that accelerate heavily or speed up to get to where they are going end up in the same traffic line as others who remain patient. The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you are going to end up using.
The benefit: Heavy throttle applications can lower fuel economy up to 2-3 miles per gallon being used that isn't necessary.
6. Drive the vehicle that gets the better fuel mileage
If you have more than one vehicle, during these times with high fuel costs and the inflation issues we are seeing, drive the car that gets the better gas mileage. Put the truck away and use it only when needed. I myself have had to do the same for now. For example, my wife's Honda CRV usually obtains around 24-25 miles per gallon in town. My GMC Sierra obtains around 15-16 miles per gallon in town.
The benefit: That's a difference of 9 miles per gallon saved by using the CRV only.
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