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7 tips for an awesome road trip

What we'll cover

  • Tips and tricks to help plan ahead for your road trip

  • Helpful mobile apps to have downloaded

  • Ways to help save money on your road trip

Coast-to-coast excursions, summer getaways, and visits home to see family are some of the most memorable adventures to happen when you hit the open road.

To keep cruising, planning ahead is key. Whether you’re hitting the road for a few hours or embarking on an epic cross-country trek, these driving tips will help you keep your car in good condition – and save you money during your journey.

Take your wheels in for 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 road-trip ready. To do so, you’ll need to check to see if you need an oil change. You’ll also want to inspect your tire pressure, replace clogged air filters, and try to use the right grade of gasoline while filling up along the way. Not only can simple vehicle maintenance help you avoid bigger problems down the road, but it can also help increase fuel efficiency. And during a road trip, that can translate to major savings!

Reduce your speed and save

Speaking of fuel efficiency, did you know that by reducing your speed by just 15 miles per hour (from 75 mph to 60 mph) you can reduce your fuel use by up to 20 percent? Conversely, rapid acceleration and quick stops can lower your gas mileage. So, avoid either of those when you can. In addition to saving money at the pump, driving the speed limit can help keep you safe as well. The best part? It’ll also help you avoid getting pulled over and costly speeding tickets.

Did you know that by reducing your speed by just 15 miles per hour (from 75 mph to 60 mph) you can reduce your fuel use by up to 20 percent?

Tap into tech

Mobile auto apps have opened a new horizon of possibilities when it comes to making your road trip the smoothest ride possible. They can help you find the cheapest gas prices, and if you're an EV owner, there are a few apps that can assist with mapping out all the available charging stations along your trip so you can save at the pump and not have to worry about having the energy you need to make it to the next state.

And for many of us, nothing can kill the buzz of a road trip like unexpected traffic. But you can plan ahead with mobile apps that detail how congested the roads will be on your route, before you ever find yourself stuck in gridlock.

Mobile apps can essentially help you plan and map out your entire trek - some are even packed with road-trip-focused features like reviewed and searchable hotels, campgrounds and places of interest along your route.

Apps can also help you stay in touch with those important things back home, like managing your bank account or making car payments online (and one of the perks of banking with Ally Bank or financing through your dealer and Ally is that we have an app for both).

Switch it up with a rental

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, It may be cheaper to rent a vehicle that gets better gas mileage for a long drive depending on rental prices in your area. If you choose to go the rental route, check with your insurance company to make sure it’s covered in your policy. Some insurance plans automatically extend coverage to rental cars, allowing you to avoid paying for duplicate coverage.

Avoid idling too long

When you’re picking up BBQ from that place you saw on the TV or waiting for your road trip partner to grab snacks at the rest stop, try to be mindful of how long your car is idling. While many of us have this long-held notion that stopping and starting a vehicle can use some serious gas, most evidence shows that idling is far more costly.

It does take a little extra fuel to get your car started, but once you idle for a minute or more you actually use more fuel than it would take to shut off your engine and start it again. Stop-start technology in newer vehicles, which shuts off your engine while your vehicle idles for a period of time (at a red light, for example), can help reduce fuel use by around 5 percent.

Move luggage to the back

While car top carriers have their own special nostalgic place in road trip history, they can really wreak havoc on your gas usage. Luggage stored on a roof rack can affect a car’s aerodynamics and increase drag that reduces fuel economy. What can you do instead? Try fitting all your luggage in the trunk and back seat space. It can also pay off to pack lightly. In most vehicles, every 100 pounds of weight can decrease fuel economy by 1 percent.

Straight cruisin’

The road trip is as American as apple pie. Follow these tips and tricks to keep things simple and sweet as you cruise along Route 66.

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