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4 ways to improve your miles per gallon (MPG) when traveling

When you travel, you probably spend a good chunk of it on gas. We know what it is like; we figure out how many miles you are going, and the do the math. For example, our family recently drove to Ohio from Florida, and it was about 1200 miles. I took that 1200 am divided it by how many MPG’s my car said it got on the highway, which was about 48 gallons (1200/25). If you then multiply the gallons by the average price, which was $3.98 at the time, we would have spent $191.04 (48x$3.98) each way. That is cheaper than a place ticket, but still close to $400 after we do a round trip. We follow the steps below to try and reduce this as much as we could.

1. Fill up your tires –
Your tires are what keep your card moving, but many people neglect to check their tire pressure when traveling. To get the most miles per gallon you want to have your tires filled to the manufacturers suggested PSI (pound per square inch). You can find this on the side of the tire and even in the door jam of some newer vehicles. When your tires are low on air, it requires the car to work harder to move it forward due to extra tire traction on the ground. Be careful not to overfill the tire though, this can hurt the tread of your tire and cause unsafe driving conditions.

2. Change your air filter
Engines require a lot of air to make the pistons fire each time, and if your car isn’t getting enough air, the combustion won’t be as powerful. Think about it, your car sucks in air (oxygen) to mix with gas, compresses it in the cylinder and then lights the spark plug to create an explosion. It is 1000’s of those explosions that propel your car forward, but if there is limited oxygen, there is less of an explosion. If you have a dirty air filter, it will be harder for your engine to get access to fresh air. It is recommended to check your air filter every time you change your oil, but we don’t recommend buying the filter at the oil change shop. They charge 2 -3 times the amount you would pay at a local auto store like auto zone.

3. Roll the windows up
Enjoying the fresh air outside is always a pleasure when flying down the road on a nice summer day, but that fresh air is also causing a lot of drag. What is drag? Drag is when air runs over the surface and causes additional friction, which will then slow the object down. When your windows are down, you are causing more friction with the air. When we have drag, it causes the engine to work harder to push the car forward, and this means we are using more gas. In modern cars, the air conditioner does not consume as much engine power as older models did, and it is better to have the AC on while driving down the highway then having the windows down.

4. Don’t store luggage on the roof
I know, and you need the extra room to fit your mother-in-law in the 3rd row of the SUV, and you need to put the luggage somewhere else. Well, I know the roof seems like the best place to put it, and it will give you more room, but this will also add additional drag. Even if you put it in a fancy cargo carrier and it says it is aerodynamic you are still going to pay for it with more gas. A better option is to buy a hitch rack that you can place your luggage on. Since these are carried behind the vehicle they typically cause minimal drag since the air has already cut through the air in front of it. I also like these because I don’t have to worry about high limits in the parking garage, and yes I have driven into the garage with luggage on the roof.

 

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