Save on road trips

Enjoy the open road without wreaking havoc on your vacation budget! Learn how to get more from every gallon

Keep your car in good shape. Before you head out of town, check your vehicle’s tire pressure and change the oil and the air filter if need be. Cars with clean air filters can get up to 14 percent better gas mileage. Using the grade of motor oil that the auto manufacturer recommends adds efficiency as well; look in the vehicle’s manual to see which type to purchase.

Plan your fuel stops ahead of time. Gas prices vary widely from state to state—and even from one side of town to the other. Check websites such as fuelgaugereport.com and gasprices.mapquest.com to compare costs before you run your errands for the day.

Put on the pressure. You can improve your gas mileage by approximately 3 percent by keeping your tires properly inflated, saving you around 8 cents per gallon.

Click on the cruise control. Using cruise control can help you stay under the speed limit when you’re on the highway, which will pay off—aggressive driving wastes gas and lowers gas mileage by 33% on the highway and 5% around town. You can save 14 to 94 cents per gallon by driving sensibly.

Save at the pump. If you suspect you’re not getting optimum gas mileage, consider cleaning your car’s fuel intake system with a product such as STP gas treatment (about $2 at most service stations). Simply add it to the gas tank when you fill up. And remember to secure the cap.

Keep it under 60. As a rule of thumb, expect to pay an extra 20 cents per gallon of gasoline for every 5 miles per hour you drive over 60.

Cool efficiently. Don’t crank up the air-conditioning as soon as you get in the car. Start by rolling down the windows. Keep them open as long as you’re driving slower than 40 mph. Then, when you enter the freeway, close the windows and switch on the AC. The wind drag caused by open windows at high speeds makes the car burn more fuel than it does when the AC is running.

Ask around. If you’re going on a road trip, ask about fuel rebate packages from small inns (and even some large hotel chains). At bedandbreakfast.com, click on “Special Packages” under the Search tab and choose “Tanks for Traveling” from the drop-down menu