“But you can definitely drive green and save yourself some money without having to trade in your reliable, reasonably priced family vehicle for a new one that features the latest eco-friendly technology.”
Summer vacations often mean extra driving, either to your destination in your own vehicle or, if you fly, in a rental car once you’re there.
"Of all summer driving, vacation driving can be the most costly and least green,” Pinera points out. “Whether it’s spending time stuck in traffic or driving in circles looking for an attraction site in an unfamiliar location, there are plenty of opportunities to waste gas.”
Car rental agents, who work in tourist areas across the country leasing a variety of vehicles, have seen everything that works – and doesn’t work – when it comes to conserving gas, saving money and preserving the environment while vacation driving.
Here are some tips from agents at Hertz for smart vacation driving:
In Your Own Car
* Have your car thoroughly checked out before going on a long vacation road trip. Be sure tires are properly inflated, oil and oil and air filters are fresh, and the air-conditioning is working properly.
“Just $100 in preventative maintenance can save you real dollars in terms of fuel efficiency and a great deal of aggravation if you happen to catch a potentially serious problem before you break down on the roadside,” Pinera says.
* Drive smoothly and considerately.
Aggressive driving – fast starts, excessive speed, abrupt maneuvers and constant braking – is not only dangerous, it significantly increases your vehicle’s fuel consumption. “You’ll enjoy the ride more and spend less on gas if you just drive friendly,” Pinera says.
* Only use premium fuel if your car’s manufacturer specifically recommends it for your engine type. Regular fuel costs less and premium will not improve your fuel efficiency in anything but a high-performance engine.
* Look for gas stations that offer pumps with vapor-recovery nozzles. They look like black plastic accordions attached to the nozzle. These curb emissions. Likewise, never try to “top off” your tank with these nozzles. They’re designed to shut off when the gas tank is at its optimum fullness. Continuing to pump could lead to overfilling and spilling.
* Try to pack light and avoid putting anything on top of your vehicle. Rooftop storage may increase the risk of rollover in some types of vehicles, and increases drag, which lowers fuel efficiency in all kinds of autos.
In a Rental Car
* Whenever possible, choose a fuel-efficient model, such as a subcompact, compact or economy car. The good news is that these are usually the least expensive to rent from any company.
* Consider renting a hybrid. Hertz, for example, offers a “Green Collection” of rental cars that includes fuel-sipping hybrids like the Toyota Prius or other environmentally friendly vehicles like the Toyota Camry or Hyundai Sonata, which feature an average Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highway fuel efficiency rating of 31 miles per gallon.
* Paying the extra fee for a navigation system can go a long way towards saving you time (and money) driving around lost. “Navigation systems can help you find your way in unfamiliar territory, helping you reach your list of attractions with a minimum of time and gas lost,” Pinera says. “How you entertain the kids in the back seat, however, is entirely up to you.”
For more green driving tips, visit www.greencars.org or www.epa.gov/air/actions/drive_wise. To learn more about Hertz’s fleet of eco-friendly, fuel-saving vehicles, visit www.Hertz.com.