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National News

Saturday, 24 May, 2008 1:52 PM

National Poll Shows Folks Plan to Drive Smart When Taking Summer Vacations

Poll also outlines how FAR people are going to drive; Angie's List offers tips for summer road trips

Photo courtesy of


With no end in sight for fast-rising gas prices, Angie's List members planning to drive to their summer vacation destination are taking extra steps to ensure they get the most out of every gallon.

In a nationwide poll conducted this month, 67 percent of Angie's List members who responded said they will take the time to service their vehicles before hitting the open road to make their vehicle as fuel-efficient as possible and minimize the chances they'll spend their precious R&R time in the breakdown lane.

"No one likes the spike in gas prices, and our members are choosing to be really smart about their summer road trips, rather than just giving in to the price at the pump," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, which provides consumer ratings on about a dozen auto-related categories of service.

Here's a breakdown of how far those who are driving to their vacation spot are planning to travel:

Less than 100 miles: 9 percent
100-500 miles: 49 percent
500-1,000 miles: 24 percent
More than 1,000 miles: 18 percent

Seventeen percent of those who have driven during past vacations had their vehicle break down. Hundreds of Angie's List members shared their auto-related vacation nightmares:

  • One member was driving through a tiny town in Mississippi when their vehicle kept dying. They spent several hours sitting in a stranger's yard waiting for a repair.
  • Another member spent two days of their vacation in Omaha, Neb. -- while their car was being serviced.
  • Another's air-conditioning went out -- in July -- while traveling in Texas.
    One member recalled a horrible experience during which they were stranded after a belt broke; while multiple respondents shared similar experiences of breaking down while traveling through mountains.

So, plan ahead and have your vehicle serviced before your vacation. Remember, that's your time to relax.

"Members are taking all the right steps in ensuring they have the right tire pressure, not letting the fuel gauge get to empty before filling back up and getting the car serviced before heading out," Hicks said.

"Finding a great service station or mechanic, who you can rely on for years to come, can help you get the best performance from your vehicle. It'll also help you get quick service in emergencies and great advice along the way."

Angie's Advice for Summer Road Trips

Safety First: Take the vehicle you'll be driving to a reliable service provider for a thorough check-up two weeks before you plan to head out. If there's an issue, you'll have time to get it addressed without eating into your R&R time. And, you'll greatly reduce the chances you'll spend part of your vacation in a break-down lane far from home.

Slow down; you're on vacation: Driving the speed limit will increase your fuel efficiency. Honest.

Save the limbo for the beach: Avoid going as low as you can go when it comes to your gas tank. Your fuel pump is located there and the bottom of the gas tank collects sediment from gasoline. When you run your car on low fuel, the pump can pick up the sediment and become damaged from it, which results in low fuel-efficiency.

Sleep all day, drive all night: Consider driving to your summer destination during non-peak hours. Nearly half the energy needed to power your vehicle goes in acceleration. Unnecessary braking wastes that energy. It will also be cooler at night, meaning you might not need the A/C, saving even more fuel.

Angie's List Advice for Everyday Good Driving Habits

Yearly check-ups: You should have an annual physical, and so should your vehicle. Plan your vehicle's once-over shortly before your area's most extreme weather sets in.

Equip your car with an emergency kit (high-energy snacks, bottled water, shovel, blanket, cell phone battery charger, tire repair tools, flashlight and flares).

Respect the Tin Man: Don't skip regular oil changes, which should be done every 3,000 to 4,000 miles on most cars. Check your owner's manual to see if your car has a specific oil type, and make sure your mechanic uses it.

Clean it up: A car wash does more than just clean your car. Regular washing, especially the underbody and especially in the winter for cold-weather areas, makes an enormous difference in a car's longevity. Brake fluid and fuel lines run along a car's underbody, which is subjected to a lot of dirt, water and salt -- all of which lead straight to rust.

Be more than a good listener: Don't make just a mental note when your car starts to sputter, stall or have other strange symptoms. Put a notebook and pencil in your car and keep detailed log of any problems and the conditions under which they occur; (i.e. the weather or speed at which you were driving when it happened). This detail will help your mechanic diagnose the problem.

Keep track: Regularly monitor your tire inflation and mileage to save money at the gas pump and in the repair shop. Proper tire inflation helps you get better gas mileage. A drop in fuel efficiency is often the first warning sign of a problem, so monitoring your mileage can catch a problem before it gets too big (and expensive).

Smooth and steady wins the race: Vehicles that are driven gently last longer and experience fewer problems. Don?t race from red light to red light. Avoid sharp turns, slamming on the brakes and other habits that put stress on your car.

That 'Check Engine' light: If your "check engine" light flashes, stop the car as soon as possible. Driving even a few miles with an engine problem can wreak major havoc and cost you more in the long-run.

*1,327 Angie's List members took our poll. Responses are representative of Angie's List members, but not the general public.

Source: Angie's List



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