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Prices Rising at the Pump: 7 Tips for Better Gas Mileage in your RV
With gas prices rapidly rising, you may have been adding to the collective pained groan coming from every gas station on the open road. In our Ford F250 Superduty over the past weekend in central Florida, it cost $170 to fill up our tank with regular gasoline-- (We see you too, Diesel and Premium travelers!) With our eyes on a 14-state trip westward in the coming weeks, and with the prices of fuel estimated to continue rising, we are now acutely aware of how our fuel efficiency will dramatically change the overall budget for our travel plans. It got me wondering, with the rest of the RV community..... How can I get better gas mileage?
Here are 7 Tips that will help you improve your fuel efficiency! Although each change might make a small impact, combine a few of these habits and see how it changes your MPG M.O.!
1. Check your Tire Pressure How closely do you monitor your TPMS? Do you check your inflation levels before each journey? Left unattended, tires in a moderate climate can lose 2 pounds per square inch (psi) each month. Let's say one of four tires are underinflated by 10 psi-- that equates to 3.3% fuel economy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Now imagine that four of your tires are all underinflated by 10 psi--- now you're at 10% lower fuel economy! With regular gasoline at $4/gallon... that's an added cost of .40/gallon.
2. Replace your Spark Plugs Has your gas mileage taken a sharp turn downward? It might be misfiring spark plugs. Bad spark plugs, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, can decrease fuel economy by 30%-- costing you $1.20/gallon assuming gas is four bucks.
3. Slow Down. I know, I know, I know. It's way more satisfying to cruise the highway at 75mph than it is to camp out in the right lane and go 50. Did you know that for every 5mph that you travel exceeding 50mph, your fuel economy takes a nosedive? (According to Energy.gov,) losing 7%-14% efficiency on average for traveling 75mph equates to .56/gallon more you're paying to get the wind in your hair. (Not to mention the many other reasons not to push your speed while piloting an RV, including trailer tires having max ratings that may fall under the speed limit on the highway.) Find a good playlist, enjoy the ride, and slow down. Your wallet will thank you.
4. Cruise, baby. Speaking of your speed.... set the cruise control and give your ankle a break to get the best fuel economy you can. FuelEconomy.gov estimates that erratic driving habits, such as rapid acceleration, rapid deceleration, and speeding can impact fuel economy between 15-30%. Set the cruise control, enjoy the ride, and realize a savings of up to $1.20/gallon (assuming $4/gallon fuel.)
5. Lay off the Idle A gallon an hour.... that's how much gas you're wasting when you idle. Since you're obviously getting a whopping zero miles per gallon while idling, just deciding to turn off the car while you're waiting in Park can save you .07/minute at $4/gallon. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that as a nation, the U.S. consumes 7.5 BILLION gallons of fuel per year while idling. Talk about getting nowhere fast! Admittedly, I tell my partner, without a shred of honesty, "I'll just be a minute!" while running into Bucees. We both know this will not be a minute.... this will not be 15 minutes. Turn off the engine.
6. Air Filter Maintenance Driving through the desert, a smoky area, or just waiting too long before changing your air filter could be negatively impacting your mileage as well. According to the McNally Institute, dirty air filters result in less air passing into the engine. This means you may see a 10 percent reduction in gas mileage and a 10 percent reduction in engine performance as a result, as the fuel combustion process happens most efficiently when unobstructed oxygen is present in the engine. I have a habit of saying, "Next time!" when an air filter change is suggested to me during an oil change. I think I'll be changing my tune!
7. Cut Weight Are there items you're long-hauling that don't need to make the journey with you? Could you cut weight in your rig and/or tow vehicle? Consider only bringing a minimum amount of fresh water on board in the tank if you plan on boondocking en route, and always empty tanks before hauling if you can. For every hundred pounds you decrease, your fuel economy increases between 1-2%. I'm currently thinking about the completely over-full pantry and cases of waters and drinks we just loaded into our rig in preparation for our next long haul. Next time, I'll plan on stocking up once we arrive-- every little bit counts!
Although this isn't a tip for better fuel economy, don't forget you have other tools in your belt for lowering your overall cost while traveling!
Consider using a fuel discount membership like Good Sam! Saving .05/gasoline and .08/diesel per gallon can really add up over a summer of RV travel! FMCA has a fuel discount membership as well, as well as brand-specific memberships such as Flying J/Pilot. Find the most affordable fuel near you using GasBuddy Leverage your memberships and use your technology options to find the best deals on campgrounds and RV parks along your route!
One thing is for sure.... RVers know the beauty is not only in the destination; it's in the journey! However you plan on keeping your adventures within budget over the next months, I'd love to help! Drop your favorite way to cut travel costs in the comments below. Consider hitting the SUBSCRIBE button in the green box below so you never miss a post!