Americans have returned to summer road trips. In fact, AAA predicted 47.9 million people would travel at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home over the 2022 Fourth of July holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4). That was an increase of more than 3.7 percent from 2021, despite historically high gas prices.
And even though prices have declined for the fourth straight week, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $4.66 per gallon July 11, 2022, according to GasBuddy. That's down 34.4 cents from a month ago.
But the high cost of fuel doesn't have to stall your summer plans. You can calculate about how much your fuel will cost you ahead of your road trip. And you can even try a few easy things to reduce that amount and maybe even save some money.
Get Your Car Ready
There are several steps you can take to reduce the cost of gasoline before you even pull out of the driveway. First get your car road trip ready. Check the engine oil and have it changed if necessary. Also make sure your car is well maintained, which means having those nagging repairs fixed before you hit the road. Some simple repairs can increase your gas mileage by as much as 4 percent , according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
You should also check to ensure that your tires are properly inflated — this alone can improve gas by up to 3 percent in some cases.
Finally, try to pack light. Every 100 pounds added to a car's weight results in a 1 percent reduction in gas mileage. This includes hauling cargo on the roof. It might save you room inside your car, but it increases aerodynamic drag and lowers your fuel efficiency. So try to keep your things to a minimum inside the car or opt for a rear-mount cargo box or tray instead. These reduce fuel economy much less than roof cargo.
Once you're on the road, there are more ways to decrease how much gas has to go in your car's tank:
- Drive the speed limit.
- Use cruise control to maintain constant speed.
- Avoid rush hour in large cities.
- Use GPS to navigate around traffic in real time.