Road Trip Forecast: The Cost of Gas

align="right" alt="GasPump" src="http://www.gadling.com/media/2006/04/gas-pump-1.jpg" />This href="http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/04/11/summer.gasoline.ap/index.html">news from CNN shouldn’t be surprising or
shocking. Vacation drives are looking to be a lot more expensive than last year, with regular gas averaging at 25 cents
higher than 2005. However, AAA predicts folks
won’t be cutting back
on driving and that the summer travel season will be a busy one. Now I’ll leave it right
there for now in terms of what they’ve got to say. We all know what the situation looks like in our own neck of the
woods, so you tell me how the gas is affecting your travel plans. Is it? To some, 25 cents is quite a hike, especially
if you’re trying to push your vehicle coast to coast on I-10. That kind of money adds up. Should we not even bother to
think or worry about the gas cost and take the scenic route on our summer drives? For those of you who find money an
issue and are unwilling to compromise your dreamy drives down the unknown road, here are a few money and gas-saving
tips:

Before the Trip:

  • Air filter -Make sure your air
    filter is clean. Air filters are easy to check and change and can help the performance and economy of your vehicle by
    allowing good air flow to the engine.
  • Tire pressure – Tires that are under-inflated can
    cost you 2 to 3 MPG and then some. Keep a reliable tire gauge handy and be sure to keep tires inflated properly.
  • Rims – I highly doubt many of you will be taking to the highways with 24" chrome and
    spinners on your wheels, but should that be the case you may wish to reconsider. If the rims widen the tire stock you
    could decreasing fuel economy by creating more rolling resistance. ( href="http://cars.about.com/od/helpforcarbuyers/tp/ag_top_fuelsave.htm">See About.com)
  • Evaluate your load – Clean out your car before adding all your travel necessities. href="http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml">Roof racks and carriers can help provide additional space, yet
    keep in mind they decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent.
  • Vehicle selection – Sure you’re
    only using your summer whip for a couple of weeks, maybe months, but when it’s time to rent or take one of your vehicles
    aim for the one with the best fuel economy. Use www.fueleconomy.gov to find and
    compare vehicles. The extra hundred dollars could become quite useful elsewhere.

During the
Trip:

  • Slow down – You’re on vacation, there is absolutely no reason to
    rush, plus traveling 55mph gives you 21% better mileage.
  • Roll down the windows
    Gasp! No A/C? Mother Nature’s air is often the best kind of air to help give your vehicle a break. Consider keeping the
    A/C off a good portion of your trip when driving at reduced speeds around town or in city traffic.
  • Keep the A/C going – Confused? Well, many studies show that keeping the A/C going href="http://www.cartalk.com/content/columns/Archive/1994/May/05.html">isn’t all that bad when driving at increased
    speeds on highways. The air conditioner will still consume fuel, but having the windows up will decrease the drag on
    your vehicle created from wind resistance.
  • Gas purchases – Always try to buy gasoline
    when it’s cooler. HowtoAdvice.com notes that gas tends to be densest
    during the early morning and late evening, where gas pumps measure volumes of gasoline, note densities of fuel
    concentration. You are charged according to "volume of measurement."
  • Brand and
    grade
    – Don’t be fooled into thinking high
    octane gasoline
    is going to give you stellar mileage or performance. While very few cars require the use of premium
    gasoline, most vehicles only need regular to fill up the tank. When in doubt, thumb through your owner’s manual. />
  • Carpooling and friends – A road trip wouldn’t be a road trip without a few close pals.
    Bring them along and plan to save on fuel together.

After the trip make plans to do it all over again
and if you’ve got a few tips of your own pass them this way.