It’s pushing 100℉ outside and you’re sweating up a storm. For many Americans, that means it's time for a beach road trip! But while gas may not be as costly as it was a few years ago, it’s still not cheap. Don’t let gas prices get between you and your road trip. A few simple adjustments to your driving habits can mean the difference between a stay-cation and a dream vacation!
Give these fuel-saving tips a try and get better gas mileage this summer:
1. Maintain proper tire pressure.
Keeping your tires properly inflated is a simple way to improve summer gas mileage.
"We always offer having the oil and the tires checked for customers for free," says Ivan, an expert technician at Firestone Complete Auto Care. "If you have low air pressure, that affects your fuel mileage. You always want to make sure your air pressure is up."
You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3% by keeping your tires inflated to the correct pressure, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). The lower the pressure, the bigger hit to your gas mileage. For every 1 psi drop—psi means pounds per square inch—your under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2%.
So, what's the right psi for your vehicle? Car manufacturers made it simple by printing the recommended psi on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or glove box. Still can’t find it? Enter the vehicle make and model in our tire pressure tool or visit a nearby Firestone Complete Auto Care for help.
2. Get regular oil changes.
Once your tires are squared away, do a quick oil check. It might be time for an oil change. When you visit Firestone Complete Auto Care for an oil change, we’ll give you a little sticker that tells you exactly when to change it again.
"You want to check your oil regularly because some cars may have an oil leak, or they burn oil," explains Ivan. If you run low on oil, "you could potentially ruin your engine. Nobody wants that."
Although not as costly as engine damage, running an engine with old, sludgy oil can decrease fuel economy. It’s a matter of thickness. The thicker the oil, the more energy (fuel burned) needed to pump it. More energy usage equals less fuel efficiency.
3. Avoid aggressive driving.
Have you ever seen a car weaving in and out of traffic, speeding up and slowing down erratically? Don’t be that driver. Not only is it dangerous, it’s also bad for your gas mileage.
Aggressive driving, such as rapid acceleration and hard braking, can negatively affect your highway gas mileage by up to 33% and your city mileage by 5%, according to the DOE.
4. Don’t idle the engine.
This may be a tough tip to stomach in the sweltering summer months, but don’t idle. Waiting in the car for a friend? Turn off the engine. Get to the movies early? Don’t hang out in the parking lot! Turn off the engine and head into the theater.
Whenever you’re parked for more than 10 seconds, turn off the engine. Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, reports the DOE. And keeping the A/C on while idling can waste up to three cents of fuel per minute.
So, how about idling in the winter? We don’t recommend it.
5. Reduce your speed.
Is your guilty pleasure speeding down the road? You could end up paying for it—literally. Any time you drive above 50 mph, your fuel efficiency drops rapidly.
Here’s the math: for every 5 mph over 50, it’s like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon of gasoline, estimates the DOE. Wouldn’t you rather put that money towards road trip snacks and beach souvenirs?
6. Turn down the A/C at low speeds.
Running your car's air conditioning is the main contributor to reduced fuel economy in hot weather. So, if your goal is to reduce gas mileage, you might want to turn down the A/C.
“Under very hot conditions, A/C use can reduce a conventional vehicle's fuel economy by more than 25%, particularly on short trips,” notes the DOE.
Instead, roll down your windows when driving at lower speeds and park in the shade to keep your car cooler.
Ready to hit the road? Visit your local Firestone Complete Auto Care and put your car in the capable hands of a tech like Ivan. We back all our work with a Triple Promise that guarantees your experience will be Fixed Right, Priced Right, Right on Time. Schedule an appointment to see how we live out this promise. We're ready to help you get better summer gas mileage with the right service today!