If it seems like gas prices go up every summer, you’d be correct. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), fuel prices rise nearly 90% of the time between January and May.[i] But why does this happen so consistently?
All things being equal, it has to do with stricter requirements refineries must meet during the summer months. Technically speaking, the Reid vapor pressure specs must decrease as temperatures rise. That’s a fancy way of saying there are two fuel blends. One for winter and another for summer – with summer blends costing more at the pump.
But as prices rise, there are steps you can take to keep more money in your wallet this summer as you head out on that family vacation.
Slow Down – At high speeds, your vehicle needs to expend more energy penetrating the air. In fact, every 5 mph over 50 mph raises your cost an equivalent of $.20 per gallon.
Lower the A/C – Your air conditioning system can be a drain on your gas mileage. Up to a 25% reduction can occur when the mercury rises. Consider rolling down the windows and parking in the shade to keep your vehicle cool.
Get a Tune Up – Oil changes, new spark plugs, and clean filters will help your vehicle perform its best, and that means better gas mileage and more money in your pocket.
Don’t Stay Idle – A running engine in park can burn up to half a gallon of fuel every hour. That may not seem like much, but those 5- and 10-minute periods of waiting in an idle vehicle quickly add up.
Empty the Trunk – The heavier your vehicle, the lower the gas mileage. Check your trunk for items that can be moved into your home to reduce weight and how often you need to visit the gas station.
Proper Tire Pressure – Underinflated tires can cost you in more ways than one. Uneven wear caused by low tire pressure will result in needing tires replaced sooner than necessary while also reducing your gas mileage.
Rights Aren’t Wrong – Going in circles can be fuel efficient; just ask FedEx. Left-hand turns often result in long wait times in the turn lane. Planning trips with more right-hand turns will limit how long you will be idling at stop lights and wasting away your fuel.
Check Your Alignment – A poor alignment causes vehicles to pull to one side or cause a wobble. Even the slightest of misalignment symptom can reduce the fuel efficiency by a significant amount.
Individually, each tip may only save pennies at the pump. However, if you take an active approach to managing fuel efficiency, you’ll be able to beat the heat and the annual summer gas price increase!