With gas prices nearing $4 per gallon, your summer road trip may be looking more expensive than you planned.
Fortunately, you may be able to use hot weather to your advantage: Heat speeds up your car’s engine, meaning you need less fuel to get on the road.
Well, maybe not. Keeping the inside of your car cool can be a challenge in and of itself. According to the Department of Energy, “A/C can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25%.” For more eco-friendly cars like hybrids, it can take an even larger toll.
So how can you get your road trip budget back on track? Try one of these five tips for saving on your gas bills, courtesy of CNBC.
1. Cool off—after you’ve started the car. Rolling the windows down may sound cheaper than running the A/C, but it’s actually not as efficient. Modern cars are designed to be aerodynamic, so the additional drag from open windows on the highway uses more gas than air conditioning. A better alternative? Open the windows before you start moving to release hot air, and only turn on the A/C after the engine is on. Try turning up the temperature a few degrees to save on battery power, too.
2. Get an inspection. Before hitting the road, get a service checkup. In addition to the engine, be sure to check the A/C has enough coolant and the radiator has enough antifreeze (to prevent boilover).
3. Follow the rules of the road. Staying under the speed limit can improve mileage up to 33%, according to CNBC. Stopping and starting gently at traffic lights helps as well.
4. Check your wheels. Tires also have a big impact on mileage (up to 10%), so before you get going, double-check your tire pressure to maintain manufacturer-recommended levels.
5. Research the best gas prices. Of course, a great way to save money on gas … is to save money on gas! Check fuel prices along your road trip route to make sure your pit stops don’t empty your wallet.