Tax gap once again attracting Congressional attention
4th of July fireworks … and taxes

Ways to save on your driving vacation

With the sluggish economy and high gasoline prices (thanks in part to fuel taxes, blogged about here), many folks are cutting back on their summer travel.

But a "staycation" isn't for everyone. Sometimes you just have to get out of town!

If you will be driving, which is the way most of will travel, thanks in large part to the cost of airline tickets plus all those other, and outrageous, fees they are tacking on now, AAA has some tips on how to get the best mileage.

Some of the tips in the AAA pamphlet target in-town trips. But other mileage advice applies to vacation road trips, too, such as:

Red_car2_2 Keep your car tuned up: Routine maintenance -- oil changes, new spark plugs and air filters -- means your vehicle will run better and use less fuel. A simple thing you can do yourself is make sure your tires are properly inflated. Not only are under-inflated tires a safety hazard, but low pressure can cut fuel economy by as much as 2 percent per pound of pressure below the recommended level. Your owner's manual has details.

Red_car2_3_2 Time your travel: Start trips early in the day while traffic is light. Plan meal stops to coincide with likely periods of traffic congestion. Choose a route that enables you to bypass congested areas as much as possible.

Red_car2_2_3 Watch your speed: Once you're on the road, remember that speed matters. Consistent speeds will produce the best fuel economy. A car uses extra fuel when it accelerates. Travel at moderate speeds on the open road. Higher speeds require more fuel to overcome air resistance. So find the proper speedometer mark and set that cruise control.

Red_car2_3_3 Stop smart: Minimize the need to brake by anticipating traffic conditions. Be alert for slowdowns and red lights ahead of you, and decelerate by coasting whenever possible. And you'll make drivers like me, who get really annoyed when we're behind brake riders, much happier, too!

Red_car2_2_4 Pack properly: Take only what you need to keep the load lighter. I know this is hard; I have mother who wants to pack three clothing changes per day when she travels. But less weight means better fuel economy. And keep luggage inside the car, rather than strapped on the roof where it creates gas-guzzling wind resistance.

Red_car2_3 Chill out on the A/C: Use the air conditioner conservatively. Most air conditioners have an "economy" or "recirculation" setting that reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled. Both settings can reduce the air-conditioning load and save gas.

A tune-up offer: If you are a AAA member, the organization is offering a free "fuel saver" inspection. Through July 31, mechanics at participating AAA facilities will check your auto's tire pressure, tread depth and air filter, as well as review your auto's lights, belts, hoses, fluids and battery.

You can find a participating facility (and free fuel-saver inspection coupon) at your state's AAA Web site. I'm presuming they all will look like this this AAA Texas Web page.

Happy 4th of July and happy fuel-efficient motoring!


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