Whenever you're planning a trip, one important aspect to consider is how the driving mileage is going to affect the wear and tear on your vehicle. If you want to prolong the life of your car, then part of your trip planning should always include methods and techniques to reduce the distance that you're going to have to drive - not only to get to your destination, but also while you're there.
What Driving Mileage Does to a Vehicle
The following parts of your vehicle are affected by the mileage that you put on your car during a trip.
- Engine - Your engine is made up of a multitude of moving, mechanical parts. Any moving part has to counteract friction, and over time friction can wear down on all moving parts. The oil in your engine will significantly reduce the negative effects of friction, which is why it's so important to get an oil change before you head out on a long trip.
- Tires - Tires don't last forever. When you purchase new tires, they are rated in terms of the mileage that they can sustain before you'll need to change them again. Obviously, driving for a very long distance will reduce the life of your tire by wearing down the treads of your tires more quickly. Always check the treads on your tires before a long trip.
- Filters - Fuel, oil and air filters in your car block impurities. The more you drive, the faster those filters will get dirty and eventually become completely clogged. Check filters before and after you travel a long distance.
- Body and Paint - Driving a long distance introduces many natural elements that can degrade the paint job on the body of your car. These elements include wind, rain, hail and even sunlight. Man-made elements that could impact the body of your car are things like flying rocks from large vehicles, or even worse, fender benders and other minor accidents. Obviously, this form of wear and tear is inevitable when you travel a lot, and there isn't a lot you can do to reduce it other than driving safe.
- Suspension and Brakes - The more mileage you put on your vehicle, the more potholes and bumps that you're bound to encounter. Shock absorbers, brake pads and other "consumable" parts of your suspension all have a limited life. Long-distance trips can dramatically reduce the life of those parts. What can you do to reduce the wear and tear on these parts? Avoid driving like a racecar driver around sharp curves, and avoid making sudden stops.
How do you reduce the wear and tear associated with long distance driving? Learn how to use driving mileage calculators to improve your fuel economy and shorten your next trip.
Planning Routes To Reduce Mileage
Don't have a GPS unit? Don't worry! While you'll have to pay for a GPS unit or a cell phone with a map feature, you can use Internet driving tools to compute driving mileage and shortest driving distance for free. Using these tools, you can plan a route with the shortest mileage, pick the fastest way to get from point A to point B, or even select a route based on fuel economy.
Tools for Finding Driving Mileage
Internet map websites vary greatly. Some allow you to customize your route, while others give you a straightforward approach to driving the shortest distance. Here are some of the best map tools on the web:
There's a reason Google Maps is one of the most popular Internet driving tools. This site lets you customize your directions to find the shortest mileage or the fastest route. You can easily add stops along the way, and you can use your mouse to drag and change the route. The estimated driving time and mileage are instantly updated based on your changes.
If you like to have maps to go with your driving directions and mileage estimates, MapQuest could be a great choice. This site has evolved over the years to compete with customizable tools like Google Maps. You can now customize your MapQuest route too, although the drag feature isn't quite as user-friendly as the one on Google Maps. MapQuest makes it easy to add stops at fun attractions and will even suggest hotels and restaurants for you. You can print a map for each step in the driving directions. There's also a handy feature that lets you calculate the fuel cost for your trip.
If you want a simple mileage calculator without all the extra features, Rand McNally is a good choice. You can enter your starting and ending points, and this tool instantly calculates the mileage between the two. If you want maps and driving directions, you can request those as well. This site also tells you where to find your starting and ending points in the Rand McNally Road Atlas.
Tips for Improving Fuel Economy
If you're interested in computing driving mileage to increase your fuel economy, here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your route:
- Consider terrain. Even if the mileage is shorter, you may use more gas going up and down a lot of hills.
- Keep speed in mind. Many cars get the best gas mileage when they are going about 55 miles per hour. You may want to choose a route that lets you travel at the optimal speed.
- The shortest route may not be the one that uses the least gas. Use tools like MapQuest's Fuel Cost Calculator to determine the most efficient route, while also keeping your mileage as low as possible.