Though gas prices are higher during the summer, more people are hitting the road during the warmer season. Longer days, more sunshine and fewer responsibilities for those still in school make for the perfect time to take a long road trip, or just frequent visits to the beach or pool.
The gasoline you put in your car has certain additives that will help the fuel burn cleaner and reduce the amount of oil necessary to create gasoline. The additives used differ depending on the season, and summer’s additives are usually a bit more expensive. This is because refineries have to shut down production before they begin processing the new additives, and because summertime’s gas blend is designed to give off fewer pollutants and less smog.
Though this summer’s gas prices are relatively low, they are still higher than they were six months ago. For example, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gas prices averaged $2.171 per gallon during the week ending July 11, but $1.888 per gallon during the week ending January 11. Knowing some tips to cut your fuel consumption can save you some money at the pump, and is better for the environment and your car.
You or your passengers will likely be tempted to crank the air conditioning up or roll the windows down during the hottest days, but both of these will cause your car to burn more fuel. According to AutoServiceCosts, using the air conditioning forces your car to use more energy, leading to more gas consumption.
“Using the air conditioning forces your car to use more energy.”
This doesn’t mean you should never use the air conditioning. After all, on a sweltering summer day, sitting in a hot car isn’t the most comfortable thing. To let the climate control work more efficiently, open your windows a crack for a few minutes before you kick on the A/C to let the hot air out of your car.
However, you won’t want to keep your windows open too long, as this can also cause you to use more gas. According to CBS News, driving at 60 mph with the windows down can cause a Ford Explorer SUV to lose up to 4 percent mpg and a Toyota Corolla as much as 8.5 percent mpg.
Another way to help your air conditioning to work more effectively, or to minimize the time you’ll need to rely on it, is to prevent it from getting too warm in the first place. Whenever possible, park in the shade to reduce sun exposure.
Your tires are the only connection your car has with the road. This means it is crucial that they are in top condition. Warm summer weather won’t cause them to lose pressure quite as fast as the colder days of winter, but it’s a good idea to make sure they are properly inflated anyway. Driving on tires that are 50 percent underinflated can cause you to lose about 10 percent mpg, according to CBS News.
Beyond losing gas mileage, improper tires can be a safety hazard. Cars with underinflated tires are more likely to be in a crash, and driving on hot pavement increases the risk of tire blow-out. Be sure your tires are properly inflated and road-ready before taking them for a spin.
You may be in a rush to get to your favorite summer spot, but that doesn’t mean you have to speed to get there. Aggressive driving is not only dangerous, but also horrible on your gas mileage. Driving too fast, heavy braking and quick acceleration can all cause your car to use up gas faster than it should. According to the Chicago Tribune, in the city mpg will go down about 5 percent with these habits, and on the highway it can decrease as much as 33 percent. Plus, as you weave between cars, speed and slam on the brakes when you see a red light, you are more likely to get into an accident.
Summer driving is something every car owner looks forward to, whether they are planning a big cross-country vacation or they are just looking forward to driving around town. Fewer trips to the gas station will make this summer – and your wallet – even happier.