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Saving on Labor Day car trips

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Posted: 2 pm ET

If you'll be packing up the car to take a road trip this Labor Day weekend, you might find the roads crowded. AAA estimates you'll be joining an estimated 27.3 million U.S. drivers vacationing by car, a slight increase over Labor Day 2010. Here are three ways to save money on your road trip:

Check your tire pressure before you leave. Underinflated tires can reduce gas mileage by as much as 4 percent. Check your tire pressure before driving and inflate them if necessary to the recommend psi, located on the driver-side doorjamb or the owner's manual.

Use your smartphone to find the cheapest gas along your route. Gas prices can vary widely within a single town as well as from one town to the next. Find your next fill up by using AAA's TripTik Mobile, free to AAA members, or the free GasBuddy.com smartphone app that shows gas prices by distance from your current location.

Pack only what's necessary. Just because you aren't limited to your suitcase on an airplane doesn't mean you should fill up the trunk. Every extra 100 pounds of weight in your car reduces fuel economy by 2 percent and therefore costs you more money in gas.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Twitter @SheDrives.

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