If you are planning a trip with your car, you have to plan a lot of things. Where you are going, what you should bring, and how much money you will need. One of the bigger cost factors for the average trip is gas. How much will gas cost on my trip? This article will help you come up with an accurate estimate for your fuel expenses.
Typical Cost Of Gas
In general, the cost of gas for a trip is the price of one gas unit divided with the number of miles your car gets to a gallon (MPG), times the number of miles you will drive. In formula:
Gas cost on a trip = Price(gallon) / MPG * Miles
Based on the 2010 averages* ($2.7 per gallon; 25 MPG for cars; and 20 MPG for a van/suv), this leads to the following average gas cost per mile:
Gas Cost On A Trip (car) = $0.108 per mile
Gas Cost On A Trip (van/suv) = $0.135 per mile
*estimates by project.org
Depending on the number of miles your car gets to the gallon, The cost of gas on a trip can vary quite a bit. If you want to make a general estimate based on current gas prices, car type, and distance (city to city), you can use a fuel cost calculator tool at aaa.com. However, you need to make some adjustments to make it a better estimate, since there are more factors to consider. Those factors will be discussed below.
Included In The Price Of Gas
Included in the price of gas is….gas. But that includes taxes and duty.
Consider These Factors That Affect The Cost Of Gas On Your Trip
- Car type. Cars get different miles to the gallon. This is one of the most contributing factors to the gas cost on a trip. Some cars will get a little as 11.5 MPG (Bugatti Veyron) while others accomplish an astonishing 99 MPG (Nissan Leaf). Note however, the MPG that is measured by manufacturers is based on optimal conditions, and therefore good for comparison, but less accurate for calculations.
- Weight. A Heavier car will use more gas than one that is less loaded. When you go on a trip, you will likely bring quite a bit of stuff with you, and maybe other persons. This all adds up to the weight of your vehicle, thus affecting your MPG.
- Driving style. If you have an aggressive driving style, especially with fast accelerating, you will use more gas and thus have a lower MPG.
- Type of road / city. On long roads, you can drive an even speed, whereas in the city you will make lots of stops for traffic lights and stop signs. On the other hand, the optimal speed for attaining the highest MPG lies around 50-60 mph. Going faster than this decreases your MPG exponentially.
- Gas prices. Along the way you will have to fill up your gas tank. However, this might not necessarily be done at the cheapest gas station around. Especially when you don’t know the surroundings and know where to find the cheapest gas in town. Furthermore, taxes vary per state and country, as well as the actual raw gas price. To find gas prices per state, visit fueleconomy.gov.
The best way to calculate your personal MPG is by using the mile counter in your dashboard, and adding up the number of gallons used over a period with enough driven miles (say a thousand). From full tank to full tank is the easiest. So, fill up your car completely and write down the number on the mile counter. Every time you fill up your tank, write down how many gallons you put in. Then, after a (few) thousand miles, fill up your tank for the last time and divide the number of miles driven (new number minus old number) by the total number of gallons used over that period. The result will be your personal MPG.
Additional Costs To A Trip
- Although you might only be interested in the price of gas during your trip, dont forget that your actual cost per mile might be more.
- Wear and tear on your car. Your car devalues over time due to age itself and wear and tear due to driving. This devalue over the years could be included in the cost per mile.
- Possibility of tickets for speeding or parking.
- Possibility of damage to you, your car, and others and their property.
Tips Before You Start Your Trip
Bring a jerry can so you can fill it up at a cheap gas station. Your car will be a bit heavier, so only fill it up to the point that you have enough (jerry can + gas tank) to reach the next cheap gas station.
Plan your route along cheap gas stations.
Bring your tire at the right pressure. This saves you gas.
Don’t use airconditioning. This uses a lot of gas!
Don’t open your windows as it lessens the aerodynamics of your car. However, if you get too hot and the internal car fans are not enough, open your (back)windows instead of using the air conditioning. This saves you gas.
Tips for driving more cost-efficient
- Drive more efficiently
- Keep your car in good shape
- Plan and combine trips
- If renting, choose a more efficient car