Whether driving to “Grandmother’s house” or anywhere else for the upcoming Thanksgiving and other holidays, you can start saving money on gasoline even before hitting the road with a little advance planning and basic vehicle maintenance. The Alliance to Save Energy’s Drive Smarter Challenge website (http://DriveSmarterChallenge.org) offers extensive money-saving tips for travelers as well as everyday drivers (http://drivesmarterchallenge.org/money-saving-tips/Default.aspx).
If you also want a chuckle with your tips, watch how the four recently announced winners of the Drive Smarter Challenge video contest illustrated some of those fuel efficiency tips in wild and wacky ways – http://www.drivesmarterchallenge.org/contest.
The Drive Smarter Challenge website offers extensive resources that cover such questions as: Where can I find cheap gas along my travel route? Where can I rent a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle? What public transportation is available at my destination? (http://drivesmarterchallenge.org/money-saving-tips/fuel-efficient-resources.aspx).
In this economy, it’s smart to practice more fuel-efficient driving. After all, why spend more than you have to – or create more unnecessary pollution and greenhouse gas emissions? It’s also useful to remember that although driving in cold weather decreases a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, drivers can empower themselves to reduce their gasoline costs in any season with simple fuel-efficiency steps.
Planning your road trip:
Get a customized map with low gas prices along the route. Getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas. Print a customized vacation map that highlights low-cost gas stations along your route using campaign website resources (http://drivesmarterchallenge.org/money-saving-tips/fuel-efficient-resources.aspx). Or, navigate with a GPS system.
Choose the right vehicle. If your family has more than one vehicle, drive the car that gets better gas mileage if possible.
Rise and shine! When possible, drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.
Investigate other travel options. Consider trains, buses, or public transportation to your destination when possible.
Explore new ways to get around at your destination. Find information on biking, public transportation routes, car sharing, walking, and renting hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles on the Drive Smarter Challenge website resources page.
Before you leave: maintenance tips
Inflate your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by around 3%.
Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your vehicle.
Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.
On the road: driving tips
Decrease your speed. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents or more per gallon for gas.
Drive sensibly. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds and up to 5% in town.
Use cruise control and overdrive gear. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving. Overdrive gear, when appropriate, reduces engine speed, saves gas, and reduces engine wear.
It’s a “drag.” Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk when possible to improve fuel economy.
Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
Fill up before returning a rental car. Rental car companies charge higher gas prices if you don't fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. Also save your gas receipts as proof.
Find out how to save hundreds of dollars a year on gas with your specific vehicle by taking six actions at www.drivesmarterchallenge.org. If you choose to take the challenge (commit to 1-6 actions), your savings on money, gasoline, and CO2 emissions will be added to the collective total of all who have taken the Drive Smarter Challenge – more than 40,000 people to date. The website fuel economy.gov reports that each gallon of gasoline you burn creates 20 pounds of CO2. That's about 6 to 9 tons of CO2 each year for a typical vehicle.
The 17 partners of the award-winning Drive Smarter Challenge campaign include the Alliance to Save Energy, American Petroleum Institute, American Public Transportation Association, Bryan Herta Autosport, Car Care Council, Citizens for Affordable Energy, Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ExxonMobil, Green Solutions Magazine, League of American Bicyclists, NASCAR, National Association of Counties, National Association of State Energy Officials, National Independent Auto Dealers Association, National Fuel Funds Network, National Low Income Energy Consortium, and Rubber Manufacturers Association’s Be Tire Smart.
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