Fuel Economy Tips For Summer Travel

April 17, 2018 Carol Forden

Want to improve your gas mileage in the hot summer travel months? How you drive, and the care you give your vehicle will have a significant impact on your wallet and how much gas you use.

As we approach the summer travel season, which for most families means hours on the road headed to the beach, countryside, the lake, amusement parks, and family visits.  Our routine trips to the grocery store increase and we still drive to work in the summer.  Now is the time to think about your vehicle care and how to improve fuel economy as you prepare for the summer travel season.

Cars run their best and consume less fuel maintained and following a routine maintenance schedule. Here are a few ways to keep your vehicle in peak operating condition and put some money in your pocket as a result:

Routine maintenance matters. Routine maintenance— regular oil changes, air-filter changes, and similar—will lengthen the life of your car and improve fuel economy and minimize emissions. Follow the schedule in your owner’s manual and talk with your auto dealer service department about routine maintenance.

Have your dealer perform an annual battery and air conditioning system check. Car batteries have a lifespan of around three years; an underperforming battery can leave you in a lurch if not replaced when its time to.  Undercharged air conditioning systems drop fuel economy as the compressor is running almost non-stop trying to cool the vehicle.

Tire pressure saves fuel. Proper tire inflation and an aligned car reduced the amount of drag your engine must overcome, saving fuel. Underinflated tires run hotter and have more tread on the roadway as they lower gas mileage. It’s a good habit to check your tire pressure once a month.

Today, low rolling resistance (LRR) tires are available studies show that they reduce rolling resistance by 10 percent improving gas mileage by one to two percent for most passenger vehicles. Many new cars today, are sold with reducing rolling resistance tires, this is something to look into when you are replacing your car tires to improve your fuel economy.

Lose weight. Like the human body, a car that carries more weight has more drag and takes more energy to get going.  An extra 100 pounds of gear and games drop a car’s fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent.

Leave the cargo box at home.  When kids are small or when traveling to a far away distance, we often resort to putting a cargo box on the car roof for convenience.  This wind drag reduces fuel economy.  If possible, put everything in the trunk or inside the vehicle.  Try to avoid putting anything on the roof rack.

Fuel Economy Tips For Summer Travel auto cargo box

Monitor fuel economy. A change in your car’s fuel economy may be a sign of oncoming engine trouble. By keeping track of your fuel economy by monitoring gas economy gauges, in real-time, you can spot a pending problem before it happens. These gauges give you the ability to track your driving habits and their impact on fuel efficiency.

How you drive impacts gas mileage

Think about the following when hitting the road:

Drive moderately. When a light turns green, it’s not the start of a NASCAR race. Jack-rabbit start increases fuel use. Driving 65-70 mph on the highway instead of 75-80 can save up to 20 percent of gas usage.

Long idles burn more gas for more than a minute. Starting your car engine burns little extra gasoline than driving does. Did you know that idling the engine for more than a minute consumes more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it?

Head for the shade. Parking in the shade reduces the evaporation rate of fuel and keeps your vehicle cooler in the summer. Hot summer weather causes your car engine to heats up more efficiently and faster. Hot air has less aerodynamic resistance than cold air, and summer grades of gasoline have slightly higher energy versus winter blends of gas.

Fuel Economy Tips For Summer Travel

The downside of this is that by keeping you and your passengers cool by running the car air conditioner to beat the summer heat drops your car’s fuel economy.

The quickest way to drop fuel economy in hot summer weather is to run the air conditioning in your car. Air conditioning can reduce your cars fuel economy up to 25%.

How To Improve Fuel Economy In The Summer Heat:

  • A worn out or loose gas caps can easily result in a 2% drop in fuel economy. Check your gas cap and if necessary, replace or tighten it.
  • Park in the shade to keep the car interior and engine from getting hot.
  • Open car windows to move the hot air out of the passenger cabin.
    • Roll the windows down at lower speeds, use the AC at highway speeds.
    • Don’t use the AC more than needed or as many of us do, set the temperature lower than what is required.
    • Avoid idling the car with the AC running, before driving to cool the interior, open the windows before you start the vehicle to allow the hot air to escape.  Let the interior reaches ambient temperature.  Then, when you start driving, turn on the air conditioner.  Today’s air conditioning systems cool the vehicle interior faster while moving.

Driving with the car windows open, increases the car’s aerodynamic drag, making the engine work harder, according to U.S. Department of Energy.  By using the air conditioning on at highway speeds, the car is more fuel efficient.

Ideally, these tips will help you and your family enjoy the summer driving season that is fast approaching and save you some money to use to create memories.

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