Conserving Fuel On The Go
With the summer driving season quickly approaching, a few tips on ways to save on fuel can help you plan your summer travels and your summer budget.
Speeding up, slowing down and accelerating up hills — it may seem obvious, but the way you drive is the biggest factor in lowering your gas mileage. When you add a fully loaded RV to your hitch, your personal style becomes a lot more expensive as the consequences of poor driving are multiplied.
Aggressive driving can reduce your mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds. That doesn’t take into account a V-10 engine, a trailer or your payload, but you get the idea. Accelerate gradually, coast to a stop and try to limit how many Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt hypermilers you blow past along the way.
This part can take some patience, but try and observe the posted speed limit. Because of higher engine RPMs and increased wind resistance, fuel mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph — especially with a trailer or in a motorhome.
Use the cruise control whenever practical, especially on long distances. Paul Eisenstein, publisher of TheCarConnection.com, said using the cruise will pay off in areas where you can maintain a steady speed for long distances.
“The laws of physics will tell you when you change the velocity of a mass, whether it’s increasing or decreasing, it is going to require energy one way or another,” he said.
Eisenstein also cited advanced cruise control systems — sometimes called active cruise control — which automatically maintain safe following distances and speeds even in moderate traffic. Thus far, such systems are primarily available on luxury models, but they’re becoming more widely available as prices decrease.
Speaking of technology, if your tow vehicle is equipped with a towing or tow/haul mode feature, use it. Besides increasing performance and safety, tow modes alter transmission shift points and can improve mileage and lessen the need to use the brakes.
Proper Maintenance Saves Gas
If you’re a serious RV vacationer, you probably know a thing or two about how your vehicle works. Using what you already know, give your truck and trailer a thorough once-over.
Low tires slow you down, increase the chances of a blowout and burn more gas. Make sure the tires on your tow vehicle and trailer are inflated up to spec but also are not over-inflated. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1-PSI drop in pressure. That number may seem negligible but having four or more tires down on air will add up.
“Many of the same things that will help you improve your mileage when you’re driving your car day-to-day will also help you when it comes to improving your mileage towing a trailer,” Eisenstein said.
For example, a dirty air filter can reduce your mileage by up to 10 percent. He added that frequent oil changes, fresh spark plugs and using the proper oil type for the season can all improve performance, the vehicle’s longevity, fuel mileage and help lower your daily cost of driving.
While financial tips are always good to keep in mind, it’s also important to remember to have a little fun on your journey without worrying about the expense.