The summer months are here and families will continue to take vacations. Whether you are taking a trip to the beach, mountains or just visiting friends and family, most Americans will be using an automobile to travel. As a matter of fact, in 2010, Americans traveled a total of 3 trillion miles-the equivalent of 6.5 million round trips to the moon. Transportation accounts for 72% of U.S. oil use, mostly for gas. Luckily there are plenty of ways to improve your gas mileage or avoid using gas altogether.
Here are six summer driving tips* below to help you save some money:
#1. Avoid aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking, which can lower your highway gas mileage up to 33% and your city mileage by 5%.
#2. Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. For every 5 mph above 60 mph, its like paying an additional $0.30 per gallon of gasoline.
#3. Avoid keeping heavy items in your car; an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could increase your gas costs by up to $.08 cents per gallon.
#4. Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks, which can decrease your fuel economy by 5% or more.
#5. Combine errands. Several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
#6. Check into telecommuting, carpooling and public transit to save driving and car maintenance costs.
#1. Use the grade of motor oil your car’s manufacturer recommends. Using different motor oil can lower your gas mileage by 1%-2%.
#2. Inflate your tires to the pressure listed in your owner’s manual or on a sticker in the glove box or driver’s side doorjamb. This number may differ from the maximum pressure listed on your tire’s sidewall.
#3. Get regular maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, sagging belts, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems.
#4. Don’t ignore the check-engine light- it can alert you to problems that affect fuel economy as well as more serious problems, even when your vehicle seems to be running fine.
#5. Replace clogged air filters on an older car with a carbureted engine to improve gas mileage by as much as 10% and to protect your engine.
*All cost estimates assume an average price of $3.96 per gallon.
Sources: fueleconomy.gov and Dept. of Energy
For more information and resources on energy-saving tips, please contact your local Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Katie Rangel, at 336-318-6000.