8 Gas-Saving Tips for a Smooth, Hassle-Free Road Trip
by Jace Amodo, January 24, 2019 1:26pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
When you’re planning a trip with your friends or family and you’re torn between joining a group tour and commuting, there’s another unspoken layer you should consider on how to make the most out of your road trip.
The traditional road trips during the holidays and other occasions has become quite the dilemma. There’s the traffic, to begin with, the availability of everyone, the fluctuating prices of fuel—posing an undesired question: is a road trip still worth it?
Tips and tricks on saving might be a cliche, but it’s something no one should pass up. We’ve rounded up things you can do to maintain fuel efficiency and your road trip.
This might be the most important rule when traveling. When plotting your trip, find the ideal route to avoid gas-wasting backtracks. As they say, "by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
Knowing Metro Manila, driving during the rush hours (between 7 am to 9 am or 4 pm to 6 pm) is a hassle as it leads to excessive idling and slow driving. You know you don’t want to waste gas passively.
Planning alternate routes is also a must. For easier direction, get a GPS satellite navigation system installed in your vehicle or an app with the same function in your smartphone. It may help you change routes on the fly and even notify you of traffic updates. Assign specific tasks to each member of your group; if you’re the designated driver, your focus should be on driving. You can assign the wayfinding to the person who called shotgun, and everything else to everyone else. That way, each person will feel a sense of responsibility to make the road trip a success, too.
Know your car
If you are traveling with a group, chances are you need more than one car. However, splitting the crew into two small cars costs more than taking a big SUV as it burns gas twice as fast as one.
It’s true you’re better off in a sedan given you can fit everything and everyone. But overloading in too small of a car can be just plain uncomfortable on a long trip—a little ironic and at odds with the core of a road trip.
No, not that. Extra weight cuts fuel efficiency as it demands more effort from the engine, so aim for a lighter cargo. Reduce weight by keeping unnecessary items out of the vehicle and not hauling more than what you can fit inside. Just don’t forget to pack the essentials like emergency tools, umbrellas or raincoats, first aid kit, and of course, food and water.
Take it slow
Yes, slow driving takes a toll on your fuel efficiency, but so is rushing. Take it easy on the pedals especially when not in the city traffic. Avoid aggressive tactics like rapid acceleration or frequent braking as it wastes a great amount of fuel.
Besides, your company might miss out on some surprising sceneries by driving at 80 miles per hour. Road trips are meant to be enjoyed, not only in the destination but also in the journey itself.
Roll your windows down first
Always keep it a practice to open your car’s windows for a short time before using the AC. This will let hot air out of your car first, putting lesser demand on the AC and helping your vehicle to cool faster.
It’s also advisable to roll your windows down from time to time to give your AC a break and help you save on fuel—but it proves to be a difficult feat especially in this tropical climate. It is preferable to use your car’s AC unit at highway speeds (during city driving and while stuck in traffic), but not while idling in the heat. And if you find yourselves traveling down the rural road where it’s full of trees, switch the air to a fresher one.
Use and maintain the AC system as your manual requires, all the while taking into consideration your passengers’ preferences. Also, make sure to park your car in the shade before you leave it so it wouldn’t absorb too much heat.
The minute a car starts, it is already burning fuel; idling for more than a minute costs even more. Shutting off the engine of an inactive car, such as when waiting for the traffic light to go green, is encouraged.
Depending on engine size and AC use, cutting out excessive idling may improve fuel efficiency. However, situations such as turning the engine off while waiting in line to make a turn are not as conducive to a manual engine shut-off. For road trips, bathroom breaks are a great way to cool the engine for a short period.
Your choice of fuel
Octane rating (the measure of a car’s performance) draws the line between the regular and premium fuels. Naturally, a premium fuel has a higher octane rating making your car’s engine perform better, but also at a more expensive fuel price. If your manual recommends "Regular" then so be it. If the manual recommends premium fuel but not "required," fill up with regular. It’s that simple and harmless (unless you’re feeling in the mood for a Tokyo Drift).
Regular vehicle check-up
At least once a month and especially before going on a long road trip, triple check your car condition.
It goes without saying that brakes and airbags check-up is of utmost priority. Meanwhile, a tire check-up is underrated more often than not. Make sure that your tires are inflated with accurate tire pressure as improper inflation results into more rolling resistance, which can then cost you money at the pump. Apart from lifting your wallet, under- or over-inflating your tires reduce their lifetime and will eventually leave you buying replacement tires.
Give your car’s filters and fluids a good once-over before setting off. You don’t wanna call a tow truck, do you?
Basically, your car’s fuel efficiency depends on your preparation and how you drive. Proper maintenance of your vehicle is just as critical as your driving knowledge and flexibility. The only thing you should be worrying about during road trips is managing your time in pursuit of experience.