You can save money on your next trip starting with your car.

Taking to the road is the only way to travel for many vacationers, but fuel costs over the past several years have crimped many a budget. Assuming that you’ll be driving one of your family cars there are ways for you to increase your diesel or gas mileage in the face of $4 per gallon fuel. Here’s how you can squeeze more miles out of every gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel.

1. Inflate your tires. All four tires must be properly inflated to deliver optimum fuel economy. The recommended inflation limits are NOT on the sidewall of your tires, rather they’re located on a placard on the inside panel of your driver’s door or inside of your glove box. Check tire pressure only when cold — that means you cannot drive more than one mile to get an accurate reading. Don’t forget to check your spare tire too!

2. Pack a sensible load. With a car full of people and gear, that added weight will affect your fuel economy — there is no way to get around it. What you can do is be familiar with your vehicle’s payload capacity — passenger weight + storage weight = payload. Do not go above that number, otherwise you are risking a tire blowout. Avoid packing anything on top of your car or pulling a trailer as both can adversely affect your fuel economy.

3. Use cruise control. You’ll achieve your best highway mileage by maintaing an even speed. That’s nearly impossible to do without your right foot getting tired, but is achievable when you activate and set your cruise control. Cruise control can maintain an even speed where you are unable to do so. The best highway fuel economy is typically reached at 60 to 65 mph, not at 70 to 75 mph. If squeezing more fuel out of a gallon is desirable, then set the cruise control to the lower speed and stay in the right lane to let people pass your vehicle.

4. Fuel up with the right grade. Diesel typically comes in one grade — not so with gasoline. Always choose the recommended fuel for your vehicle. Most cars (except turbos and select high performance models) take regular grade gasoline instead of more expensive premium fuel. Your owner’s manual explains the fuel you should use. Please note that if a certain grade is required then you MUST use that fuel or risk damaging your engine.

5. Keep your car well tuned. Tune ups are a thing of the past, right? Well, yes — however, there are two parts that need to be replaced periodically and that would be the air filter and your spark plugs. Your owner’s manual provides the maintenance interval requirements for all components including the filter and spark plugs. Today’s spark plugs last much longer, usually 60,000 to 100,000 miles. You should also be aware that certain sensors including the oxygen sensor can adversely affect fuel mileage if malfunctioning. Do not leave on vacation if the engine warning light is on — your car is trying to tell you about some problem that could lead to a breakdown if not fixed.

Fuel Savings

Your net fuel savings can increase by 40 percent if each of the measures featured herein are followed. Other ways to save include avoiding excess idling, jackrabbit starts, and using overdrive gears. The EPA offers details on just how much fuel you can save for each suggestion.

Saving money on your next vacation can begin with your car. By employing these “best practices” you can contain your costs and use those savings to fund other vacation expenses.

See AlsoCar Rental Deals Are Easy to Obtain