I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing more cars on the road this summer than ever before.  Maybe it’s because of an increased cost of airline travel or families simply want to enjoy the beautiful sights a road trip has to offer.  As a child, I remember piling all of our luggage into our station wagon to spend our family vacation at Cape Cod.  It was always an event, to say the least.  Since then, cars have become more efficient, but the cost of gas has risen significantly.  So before piling into your family vehicle, consider these tips that the U.S. Department of Energy’s fuel economy website suggests to help drive more efficiently.

  • Rather than use a roof-top cargo box, rear-mounted boxes or trays can improve efficiency.  The wind resistance created from roof-mounted boxes lowers fuel economy.  If you need to use one for vacation, it’s best to remove it when not in use.  According to http://www.fueleconomy.gov, you can save 2% to 17% which can be up to approximately $0.48 per gallon. [1]
  • Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your car, especially if they are heavy.  An extra 100 pounds could reduce your mileage per gallon (MPG) by 1%.
  • Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked.  Unnecessary idling can use a quarter to a half-gallon of fuel per hour, depending upon engine size and air conditioning use.  And as a bonus, it’s cleaner for the environment.
  • Using cruise control on the highway can help maintain steady speeds and save gas.
  • Steady driving can also improve fuel economy.  Speeding, rapid accelerations, and braking all wastes gas.  Also noted on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, “while each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at different ranges of speeds, your MPG usually decreases quickly at speeds over 50 miles per hour.”

According to Green Car Reports, your car is typically more gas efficient during the warmer months because of air temperature and a scientific explanation.  I’ll bottom line it for you.  Based on their findings, “every gulp of air your car is taking during combustion has less oxygen in it at warmer temperatures, and if there’s less oxygen, the engine compensates by using less fuel.”  They also attribute warm weather efficiencies to not having to heat up your vehicle, as well as using fewer accessories during warm weather.  For instance, you don’t have to defrost a frozen windshield and because daylight hours are longer, you’re using your headlights less.

Therefore, less money in the gas tank means more money to have fun with while on vacation.  Enjoy your travels and remember to be safe!


[1] U.S. Department of Energy, “Driving More Efficiently”.

[2] Green Car Reports, “Getting Better Gas Mileage In Warm Weather? Here’s Why.”

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