When it comes to road trips, I'm a maven for getting the best MPG possible. Does it make a difference? Maybe not a huge one; if you bump up your fuel economy by 2.5 MPG (which is not difficult to do), you'll save between $5 and $10 on a 500 mile trip. But think about it this way: If ten million Americans saved just half a gallon each way on their holiday drive, we'd save as much crude oil as we import from Libya in a week. (And we'd have extra money to blow on snacks!)
Here are five ways that you can cut down your fuel consumption (and potentially save a lot more than half a gallon):
- Check your tire pressure before you go. The air pressure in your tires drops when the weather gets cold, and low tires waste a lot of fuel.
- Take the smaller car. Most two-car families use their bigger car on trips -- but do you really need all that space? If you can take your more fuel-efficient vehicle, the savings can be significant.
- Plan your drive times around traffic. We all know how bad the traffic can be the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If you can take Monday off, you'll avoid a lot of traffic -- and smooth sailing means better MPG. (Be wary of driving at night, though -- you're more prone to have an accident, and safety should always trump savings.)
- Drive the speed limit (or as close as you can manage). Fuel consumption rises exponentially with speed. Driving the limit doesn't add that much time, but it saves a lot of fuel -- and it's nice not having to worry about cops and speed traps.
- Fuel where it's cheapest. Gas at your destination might be cheaper -- or a lot more expensive. I have a (free) app on my phone called Gas Buddy that shows fuel prices by area, and I can usually save a few bucks by tanking up across the state line.
Got any fuel tips you'd care to share? Click the Comments link below. Have a safe drive and a great Thanksgiving! -- Aaron Gold