By Christina VanGinkel
Like many Americans, my husband and I have become somewhat consumed watching the price if gasoline go up and down and then back up in recent months. With summer arriving in just a matter of weeks, and a few road trips in the planning stages, we have been trying to budget for the cost of fuel on these hoped for getaways. Without knowing what the cost of gasoline will be by the time we go, we know that coming up with an actual cost will not be possible, yet we hope that we will be able to at least judge it within a reasonable amount by using a fuel cost calculator.
A fuel cost calculator allows you to input information such as your starting point and destination, along with your vehicles make, model, and year. Some fuel cost calculators, such as the one online via the AAA car club, limits you on your starting point and destination to a select few cities across the United States, but will provide you with an estimated cost for both one way travel and round trip, along with distance in miles between the two points.
Another site, Road Trip America, has you input information such as number of miles you will be driving, how many miles per gallon your particular vehicle gets, and price per gallon. It will then figure your costs only after filling in this information. The site foes have a graph that allows you to look up your vehicle if you are unsure of what the average mile per gallon of your vehicle is. My Microsoft Trips and Streets software that came bundled with my Dell computer has a similar feature, with the added advantage of being able to instantly look up the distance between two points and offering tips on various driving routes. It does not allow me to look up the miles per gallon of my current vehicle though.
Tools such as these are increasingly becoming popular and will likely continue to grow in popularity. While no single tool can help alleviate the increase in the cost of gasoline, coupled with other tools and tips, such as making sure your vehicle is in optimum running order before heading out, together they will allow us to travel more informed. For someone who drives quite a limited distance in his or her daily routine, ignoring the soaring cost of gasoline can be accomplished. What happens though is when that same person decides to take a road trip, sticker shock at the pumps hits harder than they ever imagined.
Whether you are planning one or several road trips this summer, consider the use of tools such as these and other fuel cost calculators to be informed as to what the adventure will cost you. Then add on savings by driving as economically as you can:
Avoid piling on extra weight. If you have been toting around a trunk full of stuff, clean it out before you head out.
Use your cruise control. By maintaining an even speed as long as possible, your vehicle will potentially save fuel. This is one of those features that might not seem like a big thing, but when combined with other fuel saving tips has the potential to add up.
For much the same reason that using your cruise control helps to save gas, so does driving sensibly. If you are constantly mashing on the brake, then speeding up, and then hitting the brakes again, you are defeating how your engine uses fuel, and will suck up more than its fair share. Driving sensibly is not only safe and the right thing to do; it can keep more money in your pocket in the end. I actually read a report that said the fuel used when driving erratically down a stretch of road when compared to the same vehicle on the same stretch of road driving in a logical fashion was over twenty fiver percent! That could really add up when you consider the average cost of a gallon of gasoline is currently hovering near the three-dollar mark.
Be sure your car is in good running condition. Your tires should be inflated to their recommended level. Fuel and air filters should be cleaned or replaced as needed. Change your oil on time. A motor that is running, as it should, will most likely use less fuel than one in need of repair.