There’s nothing quite like a road trip. Now that the warmer weather has finally arrived, you might be tempted to throw a bag in your trunk, load up your favorite playlist, and hit the highway. Unfortunately, gas prices have steadily risen over the last month. With no signs of prices slowing down soon, many Americans are eager to save at the pump and stretch their travel budget further. Whether planning a weekend getaway or a cross-country road trip, these tips will help fuel your adventures without breaking the bank.
1. Prep Your Car Before Hitting the Road
When was the last time your car had a tune-up? You may want to do brief pre-trip chores if it’s been a while. Ensure your tires are filled up to the manufacturer’s recommendations – you can check them on the inside door jamb. While at it, check that your engine’s air filter is clean. Experts recommend replacing them at least once per year.
JustAnswer Auto Expert Marc O’Dell says routine maintenance can do wonders to ensure your engine is working as it should. “Check the spark plugs to see how the engine is running, or use a professional level scan tool to check the long term fuel trims. These readings are the best way to tell how the engine is running.”
2. Get Rid of Unnecessary Weight
If you’re prone to overpacking, you may want to rethink your road trip goals. Extra weight can take a serious toll on your gas tank. Heavy roof racks, storage compartments, campers, and toppers can make your vehicle less aerodynamic. If traveling in an RV, you may want to nix the full fresh water tank. Eighty gallons of water weighs more than 600 pounds. That’s a serious drag on your road trip!
While you may hesitate to leave excess equipment, baggage, and water behind, the benefits are undeniable. With less to haul, you’ll feel footloose and fancy-free – and ready to travel wherever the road might take you.
3. Keep Your Engine Running at the Right Temperature
The coolant temperature gauge of most vehicle models should indicate a midpoint reading. If the gauge shows a lower reading, this can result in an excessively rich engine running condition due to an excessive amount of fuel being added. Fortunately, the solution to this problem is often straightforward and involves replacing the thermostat.
4. Invest in High-Grade Fuel
When you’re on a budget, it’s tempting to pinch pennies wherever you can. Doing so at the pump may cost you more in the long run, though. “If your vehicle calls for Unleaded plus make sure to use Unleaded plus and not the regular Unleaded to save,” says JustAnswer Auto Expert Peter Zavarelli. “Vehicles that require higher octane fuel need that higher octane fuel to operate properly and preserve engine life.”
5. Download Gas Station Apps
If you’re hoping to cash in on great deals at the pump, see if your favorite gas station has a smartphone app. Just like fast food joints that offer loyalty points and sales for customers who order through the app, many gas stations are starting to offer savings virtually. You’ve got to stop for gas at some point – why not download an app and save a few extra cents per gallon?
It’s also worth downloading the Gas Buddy app. It recommends affordable gas stations based on your location. With the tap of a few buttons, you can compare prices and decide whether it’s worth it to travel the extra mile to save. There’s also a fuel rewards program in-app to help you save even more at the pump.
6. Plan Your Route Wisely
When you need to stretch your fuel budget, it pays to plan ahead. As you chart your journey, be mindful of minimizing the amount of driving you need to do. Take the most straightforward route whenever possible, and when you arrive, make plans to do a lot of walking. Public transportation is another great way to see a new city without cutting into your budget much.
Saving Money on Gas
These strategies might not reinvent the wheel, but they can add significant savings throughout your next road trip. By taking a proactive approach to vehicle maintenance, you’ll up your fuel efficiency while minimizing the risk of an emergency breakdown. Travel light, and you’re sure to see your efforts pay off at the pump.
This article Fuel Your Adventures: Six Tips for Saving at the Pump originally appeared on Wander With Alex. Photo Credit [@PicsFive/DepositPhotos]
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, and news. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and escape! Alex’s mission is to help you find the perfect vacation destination.