Summer is a wonderful time to travel with your family, and AAA has been reporting record numbers of us are taking car trips to get to our destination. Gas prices are not quite as high as they were in the spring, but they can still put a dent in any family’s budget with fill-ups costing $50 or more. Here are some tips to save on gas and ways to get your whole family involved, just like we do at LOZO!
Before you dive into these tips, here’s something to keep in mind: every extra MPG you save can add $100 or more to your pocket each year. So, even though some of these changes may seem small, they really do add up!
Lighten the Load:
The heavier a vehicle is, the more gas it consumes. Cleaning out your car and storing items you don’t need regularly will make your car lighter to drive. We turned our car cleanout into a family activity and encouraged everyone to reduce the number of items they needed on hand (and to vacuum up all the lost Cheerios). Getting 100 lbs lighter can add 1-2% to your MPG, that’s up to 8 cents per gallon saved every time you fill up!
- Slow Down:
Speed limits aren’t just for safety, they also make your car more fuel efficient. Driving 55mph saves 21% in fuel economy over driving at 65mph. In fact, every 5 miles per hour you drive over 50 is like paying an additional $0.26 per gallon. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by up to 33% as well. Not to mention, safer driving teaches habits you’ll want your kids to emulate, and they’ll will be even safer in that back seat.
- Save up to 25% on Gas by Tuning up Your Car:
Basic car repair can be very easy and teaching your child these skills is a great bonding experience (as well as a great money-saving lesson.) A poorly tuned vehicle is less efficient and wastes gas. Similarly, clogged air filters lead to poor air flow & dirty oil decreases performance—both of which worsen gas mileage. If you are unfamiliar with what to do, your local auto parts store can give you free advice or you can borrow a free book from the library. Keeping your car running well and your fluids changed and replenished regularly will save you money on gas and at the repair shop. The small cost of these repairs can save up to $500 per year on fuel.
- Plan Your Route:
It costs around 15-20 cents in gas to drive 1 mile, not to mention other wear and tear on your car. Get the family together to plan destinations for your journey, and then try optimizing your route to minimize the miles you have to drive. Use online tools like Google Maps to plan optimal routes with multiple destinations.
- Properly Inflate Your Tires:
Check your tire pressure regularly. Over- or under-inflated tires make your car run less efficiently, resulting in lower gas mileage. In fact, every pound of under-inflation equals a 6% drop in fuel-efficiency, that’s more than 20 cents per gallon wasted. Find the recommended tire pressure for your car in the owner’s manual or printed on the jamb of the driver’s side door. Most gas stations have free air and tire pressure gauges to use, and having properly inflated tires is like getting an extra ½ gallon of gas for free. Checking and inflating tires is fun for kids, but always make sure your child is fully supervised.
- Let Kids do the Math:
If your kids have learned math and division, let them put it to practical use by figuring out your MPG rating after each fill-up. Here’s how: after each visit to the gas station reset your trip meter to 0. Next time you go to the pump have your child write down the number of miles you’ve driven and the amount of fuel you put back into the car to make it Full. Just divide the number of miles you drove by the number of gallons you put in the car to figure out the MPG! Turn MPG tracking into a fun activity along a long journey, and make it a shared goal to keep improving the results.
- Compare Gas Prices:
When you fill up locally you can take advantage of promotions in supermarkets, and loyalty rewards at your regular stations. It might be harder to find these coupons or discounts while traveling so another great way to save is to compare prices. This is a perfect job for kids: have them scan the prices at competing stations to find the best deal, or use smartphone apps like GasBuddy to check for lower prices. Just don’t go too far out of your way to save. Every extra mile wandered for cheaper gas adds about 3 cents to your price because of the extra fuel you used to get there.
- Use Your A/C to Save Gas (really!):
When you are riding around town, opening the windows is the best way to get fresh air and save gas. However on the highways, it is cheaper to cool off with the A/C! Opening the windows while cruising creates excessive drag on the car, lowering your MPG more than the A/C does, plus it’s safer for your kids in the back. Remember to put sunshades up to keep the car cooler in the heat, that makes it more comfortable for everyone and cheaper to operate.
- Save Your MPGs (they’re worth $100+ each):
We said it before and we’ll say it again… while these easy savings tips may sound like small gains, every extra MPG can add $100 or more to your pocket each year. That means that adding just 2 MPG to your tank is worth $1,000+ during the life of your car! Plus, by getting your whole family involved you will pass down these values to your children and share quality time together, and maybe make a long trip a little more fun.
Summer is a great time to travel and spend time with your family, and with these simple tips you can reduce the stress of the dreaded gas station and increase the money in your wallet.
Remember, LOZO has free money saving tips for just about everything you’ll need when you travel so let us know how our family can help yours save!
Sources: Fueleconomy.gov; Edmunds; AAA. Assumes $3.50 per gallon cost of gas, 24 MPG average.