One of the biggest summer vacation expenses is the cost of fuel, and every year we cringe each time we fill the tank. Most of us wonder if there is a way to make summer fun and relaxation…well, a bit more fun and relaxing for the person opening his or her wallet. So which tips and tricks will actually help ease the pain at the pump? We will explore a few here, which have been researched by Consumer Reports.com.
One of the best ways to save a little cash is to slow down on the road. The faster you drive, the more it costs to run your vehicle. Gas mileage was measured at 55, 65 and 75 mph in a Honda Accord, Toyota RAV4 and three Ford Fusion versions, including a hybrid model. There was a difference of 4 to 8 miles per gallon when driving from 55-65 mph. Increasing the speed from 65 to 75 produced a drop of 5 to 7 mpg. Speeding up from 55 to 75 mph is basically equivalent to changing from a compact car to a large SUV.
In addition, many of us like to carry bikes, luggage and other vacation essentials on the top of the vehicle, which creates a lot of drag. When an empty bike rack was attached to a 2013 Honda Accord driving steadily at 65 mph, the car went from 42 mpg, which is the average without anything on the roof, to 37 mpg. When two bikes were added to the rack, gas mileage plummeted to 27 mpg. A 2008 Camry was also tested with and without a car-top carrier, and mileage dropped by 5 mpg.
Although the abovementioned practices can be considered options or choices, running the air conditioning system in the vehicle during summer travel may be a necessity, depending on your location and destination. The air conditioning can decrease fuel economy depending on how hard the system has to work to cool the interior. Fuel economy was measured in a 2008 Ford Focus, Honda Accord and Subaru Forester. ConsumerReports.com found that fuel use increases when the air conditioning is running in higher outside temperatures, but at 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the differences were negligible. On warmer days with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, the vehicles got fewer miles to the gallon when running the air conditioning. Overall, with the A/C system off, the cars got 1 to 4 mpg more.
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