We're sitting on the precipice of one of the best weekends to do stuff all year — Memorial Day weekend. The issue isn't finding cool goings-on, it's paring down the options. You've got the Indianapolis 500 as the headline attraction for the motorsports-obsessed, beaches and pools are opening up, car shows (or just random Woodward Avenue cruising if you're here in Metro Detroit), and millions of backyard barbecues, only problem is getting there. With prices for 87 octane hovering between $3.85 and $4.25 across the nation this weekend, the sting to the pocketbook will be probably be even higher as everybody gouges you weekend travel warriors. So how about a list of seven smart and easy ways to save some scratch this weekend? Sounds like a plan — the seven best ideas after the jump.
7) Don't Drive
This is the tip we obviously advocate the least, so of course we're dropping it to the bottom of the list — but it's also at the top of the post. Maybe that's because driving is the worst way to save on gas, so the easiest way to avoid paying big oil is to stay home. Of course that can be a tall order, so you can at least try to stay more local and enjoy the delights of your hometown. Heck, why not just throw a last minute barbeque and make all your friends come to you?
6) Clean all that crap out of your car
Keeping your JV football gear in the trunk doesn't make much sense now that you're 34. Clean your car, ya hobo! While holding on to all those cheeseburger wrappers and empty pop bottles might seem like a good idea, keeping them in the car is not. "Weight is the enemy of performance" as Colin Chapman used to say, it's also the enemy of boosting your anemic gas mileage. Those SUV's are big for a reason — they carry a crapload of crap. So if you're planning a trip, clean the junk out.
5) Air up those tires
Friction between the tires and the road are a healthy source of overall energy loss. The more contact between the tire and the road the more friction. Making sure tires are at the maximum recommended pressure is a good way to see easy improvements in both fuel economy and ride and handling.
4) Keep your car well maintained
Oil in the pan going on 10,000 miles? Wheel bearings all wobbly? Power steering pump groaning under the weight of an uncaring owner? These are all things which are not only dentrimental for the car but also have a negative impact on mileage. If you're mechanically-inclined, get down to your local parts depot and get to wrenching. If you're not, slide on over to your favorite grease monkey and let him fix it for you. Your car will love you for it.
3) Avoid high traffic areas
Idling wastes vast quantities of fuel every year, and running at low speeds in bumper to bumper traffic is just as bad. So if you have the choice, plan your travel times and routes to correspond to times when the roadway is free and clear of the destraction and fuel-wasting of others. Deciding to make the run out to the country from downtown at 4:30 in the afternoon is a sure fire way to waste a quarter tank.
2) Law of conservation of energy
My favorite pastime is getting into a huge SUV and racing all the other cars to the next stoplight. What can I say, I'm an idiot. If this sounds like you, congrats because you get terrible fuel economy. Try to work with — instead of against — stop lights. Most of the time lights are timed to match posted speed limits and if you work things right, you may never have to use your brakes. Brakes of course being the easiest way to transform the power derived from gasoline into heat, which, generally doesn't do any good for you. More importantly however will be the gas burned getting yourself back up to 75 MPH. What do you mean the speed limit on Woodward's only 45 MPH near 13 Mile?
1) Slow down, you maniac
Here's a better idea to those of us who are of obsessed with the cult of cars than tip #7, because at least you'll be driving. That shiny new car of yours may be fast as all get out, but mashing the gas and doing 80 MPH on the freeway will ensure cars are the only thing you're passing. Going posted speeds or below is boring and tiresome, but it pays dividends on the fuel mileage side. You know this and we know this, neither of us have to like it.
You should also check out Popular Mechanics top ten ways to save gas by hypermilling if you're looking for more tips — you know we're fans of that particular game. But above all, have a safe and enjoyable weekend everyone.