Friday, July 25, 2014

5 Ways to Drive More and Spend Less

If the phrases “I have to get gas” or “the car is making that funny noise again” make you and your wallet cringe, it’s time to look for ways to increase your car’s efficiency. There are two components that determine your efficiency—what you drive, and how you drive it. Find out what you can do in both categories to help you save money on gas and repairs.

What you Drive

If you drive a 1987 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe pickup truck with a V8 engine, you are going to be guzzling gas and fixing oil leaks regularly no matter how gently you drive it. Here are some things you can do with your current car to make it more efficient.

#1: Get rid of your gas-guzzling junk car.

Sometimes the best way to save money on driving is to simply get a more fuel-efficient car. You will not only save money on gas, but also on maintenance. The older a car is, the more often you have to take it into the shop for tune-ups and repairs. If you are looking to sell your junk car, get quotes from different businesses that buy junk cars. Or, if there are parts of your car that are salvageable, you can part them out individually. Put the money you get from your junk car toward buying a more reliable, efficient vehicle.

#2: Keep up On Routine Maintenance.

Spending a little money on routine maintenance and checkups can save you a lot of money in the long run. Here are some parts or services that need regular attention.

Tire rotation. If you don’t rotate your tires according to the tire manufacturer’s recommendations, you will wear the tires down unevenly and shorten their lifespan. You can usually get a free tire rotation if you take your car to the place that sold you the tires.

Alignment check. If your tires are not aligned properly, the tread will wear down much faster than usual. Keep your alignment in check to preserve the life of your tires.

Engine/Transmission services. Engine and transmission services are like cancer—early detection is key. The earlier you catch a problem, the cheaper it will be to repair. Even non-critical issues can negatively impact gas mileage by keeping your car from running as efficiently as it was designed to. Regular services will help detect any problems that arise.

Oil changes. Regular oil changes cost between $20 and $80 (depending on your car), but they keep your engine running in good repair. An oil change every year or so is a lot cheaper than a new engine—or a new vehicle.

How you Drive It

Even if you have the latest fuel-efficient Mazda 3, you won’t be saving much money on gas or maintenance if you drive it like a racecar. Here are some ways you can keep car maintenance costs low simply by changing how you drive:

#3: Take your time with accelerating and braking.

Going from 0 to 60 mph in 30 seconds is thrilling, but it takes a toll on your gas mileage and transmission. Accelerate slowly to save gas and preserve the life of your transmission.

Braking suddenly puts unnecessary pressure on your brakes, which can wear out your car’s brake pads. If you start braking sooner, you can take more time to slow the car down when approaching a red light. In addition to saving your brake pads, braking sooner and approaching lights more slowly may reduce the time you spend completely stopped on the road, which will also increase your gas mileage.

#4: Don’t leave your car running.

Some people think that it saves more fuel to idle a car for a short amount of time than it does to start a car. This is false. Every 10 minutes of idling uses up between 1/10 and 4/10 of a liter of fuel. The wear and tear that frequently stopping and starting your car is offset by the money you save on gas when you choose not to idle.

#5: Slow it down.

Fuel economy peaks at about 40-50 mph, and then decreases roughly 1 mpg per 1 mph you go over that. If you have a lead foot, try using cruise control. Not only will it keep you from accidentally speeding, it will also keep your car at a consistent speed, which increases fuel efficiency.

Saving money on car maintenance and fuel economy is as simple as keeping your car in good condition and watching the way you drive. If you follow these tips, you’ll be surprised at how much you save on gas and repair bills.

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