Thanksgiving travel: When to buy, how to save, what to avoid

If you’re one of the millions of Floridians hitting the road for Thanksgiving, you’ll want to keep these tip and tricks in mind to save money.

The good news for drivers in the Sunshine State is that current gas prices are continuing to drop.

While a GasBuddy report says national gas prices are projected to be higher than recent years during the holiday, it’s a different story in some states. AAA says Florida is among those with slightly cheaper gas prices going into the holiday.

According to AAA:

  • Jacksonville drivers are currently paying an average of $2.30 at the pump. That’s about two cents less than last week’s average and nearly five cents lower than this time last year.
  • But as we get closer to Thanksgiving the prices could still change.

GasBuddy projects the national average gas price this Thanksgiving will be $2.56 per gallon, a penny higher than last year.

If you are planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, GasBuddy’s website can help you find the lowest gas prices in your around.

Save at the pump: GasBuddy website

The most expensive day to fill up, according to GasBuddy, is Friday.

Despite the higher prices nationwide, GasBuddy’s Annual Holiday Travel Survey reports 30% of Americans said the higher cost won't impact their plans. Millions of Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving with a 7% rise in motorists on the road versus last year. That's the most since 2005 and almost three percent more than last year.

Avoid a possible breakdown

In Florida, AAA projects nearly 2.6 million Floridians will gas-up their vehicles and hit the holiday road. But thousands could be delayed by car trouble.

AAA expects to receive more than 368,000 calls nationwide for roadside assistance, this Thanksgiving. More than 25,000 (7%) of those calls will be in Florida. The three most common calls will be from drivers with flat tires, dead batteries and/or lockouts."The best way to avoid car trouble this Thanksgiving is to have their vehicle professionally inspected," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “Mechanics can ensure the recent cold weather didn’t damage your car battery. They can also ensure your tires, brakes, belts, and hoses are all in good shape for your trip.”

AAA offers the following tips:

  • Check your tire pressure and tread. Inspect all four tires and the spare (if you have one). Look for cuts, gouges or sidewall bulges. Check the tire tread by inserting a quarter upside down between the tread. If you can still see the top of George Washington's head, you need new tires. Check tire pressure before driving. Inflate to the manufacturer's specifications.
  • Listen to and feel the brakes. If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, get them professionally inspected. If a repair or replacement is needed, use the Repair Cost Estimator to help anticipate costs.
  • Secure and test the battery. Have a service professional check your battery to determine the remaining capacity. Ensure the cable connections are clean and tight, and the hardware is secure.
  • Top off engine oil and other fluids. Ensure engine oil, coolant, and brake transmission, and power steering fluids are all at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation.
  • Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner fluid. If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, it's time for new blades.
  • Check belts and hoses. Replace belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed. As a general rule, drive belts should be replaced every 60,000 miles. Also, radiator hoses should not leak or be worn, brittle, or excessively soft.
  • Replenish emergency kit supplies. Kits should include a cell phone charger, car battery booster cables, flashlight and extra batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, emergency flares or reflectors, rain poncho, basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.

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