Everybody loves road trips and travel. They constitute the perfect means of getting close to the best landscapes and amenities; but a major problem are the associated expenses. Fortunately, we are here to help you save money on your road trip by arming you with the right information.
Gas is among the biggest expenses of any road trip. Herein are several tips we have compiled on how to save money on gas on your next road trip.
1. MAKE GOOD USE OF GASBUDDY
Developments in technology over the last decade offer great opportunities for fuel cost efficiency. There is one common frustration that many people experience. You fill up your tank then encounter a station at the next stop that is significantly cheaper.
The difference may be in the cents and may seem negligible at first sight. However, if you are driving for hundreds or even thousands of miles, the cents can easily add up to huge dollars. A turn out there is a simple way around this problem that goes a long way.
GasBuddy, one of best gas-saving app, has been on the market for nearly two decades. The service began as a website way back in 2000. It was officially available as an iOS and Android app in 2009 and has gotten better ever since. It helps you find gas prices in your area in real time. Its millions of users update the prices and listings are indexed based on timelines.
The gas price listings are often accurate within a few hours. Moreover, you do not have to have an account to use the app. With this tool, you will be able to search by the type of fuel, find the closest gas stations and the cheapest gas prices.
You simply view the gas stations on the map, select your criteria (fuel type and brand) and acquire directions. Those minor differences in cost will count in the end. GasBuddy is an all-rounded tool that all road trip lovers can use for smart money management.
Other great tools for finding cheap gas include PetrolSpy and The MotorMouth.
2. PRACTICE SMART DRIVING
What do we mean when we say smart driving? Smart driving is the collection of techniques and strategies that maximize car fuel efficiency. It involves all aspects of improved driving habits.
This concept has been around for years. It usually rears its head in the periods of high fuel prices or fuel scarcity. We strongly recommend making it a lifestyle if you want to save money on gas on all kinds of trips.
Below is a comprehensive overview of the smart driving principles that you should practice:
- Avoid idling– This is a common habit that can cost you money over the long haul. Your car gets zero miles per gallon (MPG) while idling. Starting your car uses about the same amount as idling for approx. five seconds.
It is advisable to park the car rather than idling at a stop. The situation is made worse if you idle with the air conditioning on.
- Plan road trips in advance– Proper planning will help you prevent fuel and time wastage, both of which affect your wallet. Alternative routes should be a significant part of the planning process. Backroads can reduce your time at traffic lights and traffic snarl-ups.
- Use the GPS– This simple navigation tool can help you find the shortest and fastest routes to your destination. This saves you a lot of gas money in the process. Also, steering away from stops and hills will help with gas mileage.
- Keep speed consistent– It is best to avoid hard braking and quick acceleration. Use cruise control to keep at a constant speed, even when going uphill or downhill.
- Turn off A/C at lower speeds– Open your windows when driving at lower speeds (below 40mph). Although it increases the drag, it is much more fuel efficient as compared to using the AC. Air conditioning uses up a significant percentage of your fuel.
- Park in the shade– Most drivers are unaware of this, but gasoline evaporates out of most fuel tanks. When you part directly in the sun, the evaporation rate is much faster. Given the number of stops you make on any trip, the cumulative cost is significant.
Shade parking also keeps the car cool, meaning you will need less air conditioning once you resume the trip. If there is no shade, park such that the gas tank faces away from the sun’s direction.
3. PRACTICE PROPER CAR MAINTENANCE
It should be no surprise that a poorly maintained car will exhibit poor fuel efficiency. A fine-tuned car can have gas mileage improvements averaging 4 %. Car repair projects that can improve fuel efficiency include fixing faulty oxygen sensors, changing spark plugs and fixing faulty AC systems.
Having the proper tire pressure is also a vital component of car maintenance. We can bet you that a good percentage of all cars run on wrongly inflated tires. We recommend checking your tire pressure at least once a month.
The correct tire pressure will be listed on your car’s user manual, glove box or driver’s door jamb. Under-inflated tires will increase your rolling resistance and consequently fuel economy. This is not to mention the driving dangers associated with driving such tires.
Excess pressure, on the other hand, caused poor handling and uneven wear and tear. You should fill up your tires while they are cold (haven’t driven for a while). Filling your tires while hot can cause inaccuracies.
4. SELECT THE RIGHT CAR FOR THE TRIP
This is a seemingly obvious money management aspect that many road trip lovers seem to ignore. Choosing the right car for a trip saves the most amount of money on gas.
If possible, opt for a hybrid. Hybrids offer you immediate savings at the gas pump. There are also tax exemptions and breaks for drivers using energy-efficient vehicles. Federal deductions for such cars can go into the thousands of dollars.
The other recommendable option is getting a diesel car. There are some diesel cars that provide mileage comparable to hybrids. You also have the option of using bio-diesel or organic fuels.
If the number of individuals going on the trip is small, it will not make sense to select a large car. Smaller cars are lighter exhibiting less drag and will, therefore, get better mileage.
5. PRACTICE EFFICIENT TANK FILLING TACTICS
Efficient tank filling will save you money on gas in less obvious ways. Fill up your car’s gas tank halfway if it is enough to take you to the next stop. Doing this reduces the car’s weight considerably and thus reduces drag. This will increase your mileage significantly.
If your planned route has many filling stations, we would recommend driving at quarter tank. The lighter fuel load extends gas mileage savings some extra bucks. Also, this tactic offers you the chance to get more gas in case you come across a bargain.
It is also good practice to avoid topping up your fuel tank between fills. This forces liquid fuel into your car’s evaporative emissions systems thus reducing fuel efficiency and car performance.
We guarantee you that you will save money on auto repair and gas if you practice the tips we have provided. Remember that these tips are not solely for money management. They also help ensure road safety.
About the Author
Tim Fox is the co-founder and writer for The Elite Blog. He and his friend shares latest information about cars and motorcycles.