If you’re planning to drive this holiday season, it may be a good time to review some common-sense driving tips that can help keep your car in good condition – and save you money along the way.
Get a tune-up
For many of us, cars are one of our most valuable possessions. Before embarking on a long drive, make sure your vehicle is in good shape for the road. Check that your tires are properly inflated, replace clogged air filters, and try to use the right grade gasoline while filling up along the way.
Not only can simple vehicle maintenance help you avoid bigger problems down the road, it can also increase fuel efficiently and during a road trip that can translate to major savings! We recommend following the maintenance schedule provided by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
Watch your speed
Reducing your speed by ten miles per hour (from 75 mph to 65 mph) can reduce your fuel use by up to 20 percent. Similarly, rapid acceleration and quick stops can lower gas mileage as well.
And of course, while driving the speed limit saves you money at the pump, it can also help keep you safe – and help you avoid costly speeding tickets.
Consider a rental car
It’s no secret that some vehicles, like SUVs, tend to guzzle more gas than a smaller sedan. If your car uses a lot of fuel, you may want to rent a vehicle that gets better gas mileage for a long holiday drive.
If you choose to rent a vehicle, check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers rentals. Many policies automatically extend coverage to rentals, allowing you to avoid paying for duplicate coverage.
Plan errands in advance
Whether you’re running out to shop for gifts or picking up relatives at the airport, combining multiple trips can help you save time and keep your gas consumption in check. In the same vein, carpool with your friends and family when you can. Even for shorter trips to and from the mall, using one vehicle versus multiple can help you all cut costs.
Don’t let your car idle too long
While you’re running errands, or waiting for your family to pile in the car, try to be mindful of how long your car is idling. While many of us have this long-held notion that we should let our cars “warm up” before hitting the road in cold weather, some experts deny that this provides any benefit to your vehicle.
This advice is left over from when most vehicles had carburetor engines, which fell out of popularity after the 1980s. Today, some say that warming up your engine only harms your engine, or at the very least letting your car idle too long is wasting both time and fuel. While it does take a little extra fuel to get your car started, once you’re idling for a minute or more you’re using more fuel than it would take to shut off your engine and start it again.
Stop-start technology in newer vehicles, which actually shuts off your engine while you’re vehicle is idling for a period of time (at a red light, for example), is built off of this principle and can help reduce fuel use by around five percent.
Keep luggage off the roof
Luggage stored on a roof rack can affect a car’s aerodynamics and increase drag that reduces fuel economy. Instead, try fitting all of your luggage in the trunk space or on the back seat.
It can also pay off to pack lightly. In most vehicles, every 100 pounds of weight can decrease fuel economy by one to two percent.
Find the lowest gas prices
There are a number of ways to find out where you can get the cheapest gas. AAA’s TripTik Mobile iPhone app can find the lowest prices near you, and websites like GasBuddy.com and GasPriceWatch.com can help you locate the cheapest stations in your area. The Waze mobile app can also help you find gas prices along your route, so you can plan where and when to fill up on the most savings.
If you’re still on the fence about driving or flying this holiday season, check out the Fly or Drive Calculator on BeFrugal.com, which can help you determine the overall cost of flying or driving to your destination.
Are you planning on driving this holiday season? What are some strategies you’ve used to save money on a road trip?