It’s summer, and people are hitting the road, traveling to long weekend getaway destinations to soak up the sun and spend time with loved ones. One thing you don’t want weighing on your mind:  reduced gas mileage. Ideally, road trips are relatively low cost and enjoyable when compared to other means of travel, with the intention of avoiding costly inconveniences and airport drama. So why not avoid senselessly wasting money all together? I’m talking about using fuel resources wisely and keeping money in your wallet. Money that you could otherwise spend on more family time and getting dessert with dinner. Sensible driving is not only safe for you and others you share the road with, but it will save money too.

Here are some money-saving driving tips to keep in mind this summer road trip season:

Did you know that gas mileage decreases, in most cases, at speeds exceeding 50mph? Observing the speed limit is not only lawful but will directly benefit your wallet. Aside from the obvious advantage of safety, following the advocated speed limit over time can help you fill up less at the gas pump.

It’s not just speeding that contributes to wasting gas, however. “Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and breaking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go-traffic.”[i]

Are you redeeming gas rewards at the pump?

Gas Pump

Have you taken advantage of a gas rewards program? Several big grocery and gas station chains offer discounts if you utilize their rewards programs, usually based on how much money you spend with them.[i] It doesn’t cost anything to join, and you earn rewards while you shop, which you would do anyway. Many people earn points, but forget to cash them in, ignoring the prompts on the gas pump screen. Don’t make that mistake, take advantage of rewards, and save money when you fill up!

When you buy matters.

Did you know that, according to Money Talks News reports, Mondays are the cheapest days to buy gas?[i] Gas buddy, the travel and navigation app, also agrees that Monday is the best day of the week to fill up. Avoid purchasing gas on Thursdays, as stated in an analysis by GasBuddy, since “Thursday is the most expensive day of the week by far” to purchase gas in 28 states. The best day to purchase gas? That would be Monday. “The first day of the week offers the lowest average gas prices in the majority of the U.S. — 17 states including Illinois, Michigan and Virginia. Monday was also the best day to buy gas on GasBuddy’s 2017, 2018 and 2019 studies.” [ii]

Keep it light.

Let’s not forget the laws of aerodynamics. You spend precious time contemplating the perfect spoiler to put on your vehicle, so why undermine that decision now by carrying unnecessary cargo on your roof? Unnecessary items on your roof cause more drag on your vehicle, another thief of gas milage. So, if you aren’t planning on using that old cooler or fishing kayak on this trip, just leave it at home.

The same principle applies to weight. Items inside the vehicle may not cause drag, but their weight can slow you down and impact your gas mileage. So, clean up your floorboards and that unused row of seats. If you don’t need that old, heavy tool kit for the trip, again, just leave it at home. It is however encouraged to keep essential road trip safety items on hand in your vehicle, such as flashlights, spare tire, car manual, water bottles, and a first aid kit just to name a few. Use your judgement to decide what is needed and what is not.

Vehicle maintenance to conserve fuel:

Of course, we can’t talk about gas mileage conservation without mentioning that proper car maintenance is key. Properly inflated tires last longer, increase fuel economy, and are safer. Engine maintenance is also crucial. “Tuning a neglected vehicle or fixing one that failed an emissions test can increase fuel economy by an average of 4%, based on the repair type and quality”[i]. Changing your oil is also important. “Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil in an engine can improve fuel economy by 1%–2%.”[ii]

Cruise Control

Lastly, using cruise control and avoid idling while driving. Did you know that idling can eat up a quarter gallon of fuel per hour?! When you park to let the family out to use the restroom, turn your engine off while you are parked. Depending on where you live, (This is not useful advice in the hot, sticky southern states) it may also benefit you to turn off the Air conditioner while you wait.

Again, here are the dos and don’ts to save money and increase gas mileage this summer:

[i] Vehicle maintenance to conserve fuel. Alternative Fuels Data Center: Vehicle Maintenance to Conserve Fuel. (n.d.).

[ii] Vehicle maintenance to conserve fuel. Alternative Fuels Data Center: Vehicle Maintenance to Conserve Fuel. (n.d.).

[i] Kissell, C. (2022, June 17). The worst day of the week to buy gas in 2022. Money Talks News.

[ii] GasBuddy, & Haan, P. D. (2022, January 31). What is the cheapest day of the week to buy gas in 2022?. GasBuddy.

[i] Valdes, A. (2022, March 11). 8 bad driving habits that cost you at the Gas Pump. Money Talks News.

[i] Save money and fuel by driving efficiently. – the official government source for fuel economy information. (n.d.).,stop%2Dand%2Dgo%20traffic.

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