What can I say? I like to fly. I don’t just like to fly for the convenience. Even in today’s world of reduced comfort while flying, there’s a romance to the adventure of getting on a plane. The idea of sitting down somewhere and appearing halfway around the world in 10 hours has equal appeal to being 1,000 miles away in just a few hours. It’s fun to explore.
Because of that and the normal dreary nature of car travel, I rarely get behind the wheel for long trips. Traffic and kids are not a good mix in any respect. But, I have family that live in Connecticut and upstate NY. The closest airport is Westchester (HPN). Tickets there are generally expensive ($500 or higher for a 40-minute flight). Buying 4 tickets to go see the family for a few days has never really appealed to me despite the alternative, an unpredictable ride up the New Jersey Turnpike which normally takes 6 hours.
That was our plan for right after Christmas, though. And, by virtue of a flat tire on my wife’s car, it became time to get new tires right before we left on the trip. The bright side here was a trip to my favorite store, Costco. I’m a disgusting Costco addict, going multiple times every week. When I came home from a business trip last year, my wife had the line of the week, “Honey, while you were gone, Costco sent out an amber alert looking for you.”
The girl at Costco suggested a new kind of tire that was a softer ride and was supposed to get better mileage. The manufacturer also happened to be offering a coupon at the time, so the tires were a decent price. Not the cheapest, but getting the cheapest tires and brakes for the car my kids ride around in isn’t my idea of smart budgeting.
We set off on the trip and a funny thing happened. A side note, we have a Toyota Sienna minivan. It’s a few years old with a decent amount of miles, but not too high. But, enough so that the average mileage doesn’t change very often on the readout display in the car.
Imagine my surprise when, after driving about 300 miles on the new tires, we had gained a half mile per gallon on average fuel consumption. That’s the average for a few ten thousands of miles, so our current mileage gain was significant.
The tires they recommended were Bridgestone Ecopia. They were advertised as increasing fuel mileage between 1 and 3 miles per gallon. Based on our current rate of increase, I don’t suspect we’ll get to 3 miles per gallon, but I wouldn’t be shocked with a 1.5 mile per gallon increase.
And, while that’s not a ton of money, it is real money. Couple that with the fact that they really do offer a smoother ride and this is the first time I can ever remember having any emotion about buying tires that wasn’t, “Ugh! Tires cost too much.”
There you have it. This may be the only travel tip I ever give about car trips. Don’t get used to it. :)