Can you remember when gas used to cost less than $1 per gallon?
Well according to gaspricewatch.com, we haven't seen gas prices that low since 1994. If you're under 18 years old, it hasn't even happened in your lifetime!
So what can you do to lower your monthly gasoline expenses?
- Move to a state with a lower gas price. - Just kidding, but it is interesting to see exactly where the states fall when it comes to gasoline prices. Today, to get the lowest prices you would have to move South to Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas or Alabama. These four states offer gas at less than $3.65 per gallon on average for regular. In fact, there's a spread of $.81 cents between the highest gas price, Hawaii at $4.405, and the lowest, Mississippi at $3.592. Maryland falls in the mid-range but toward the lower end at #33 with an average cost of $3.79 per gallon for regular gasoline. That saves us quite a bit over some of the higher priced states: Hawaii, Illionis, California, Connecticut, and New York. These four have average gas prices at or over $4.10.
One thing you can do to save money is avoid buying your gas in D.C., they rank seventh highest at $4.015, or check out the GasPrice Watch.com map to find the stations with lowest prices in your area.
- Purchase a more fuel efficient car. - You can always tackle the price issue by getting a more fuel efficient car. For 2013, at least one or two of the models from Ford, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolet, Lexus, Fiat, Kia, VW, Audi, Hundai and Scion offer DOE ratings of 34 MPG or better, so there are a lot of fuel efficient cars to choose from.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. - Under inflated tires can significantly lower your gas mileage. When that tire pressure sensor light comes on, don't ignore it! Take the time to get your tires properly inflated.
- Clean out the trunk and back seat. - Do you have a friend that travels around with their entire filing system, sporting equipment and closet in the backseat and trunk. Well, you would be surprised at how much extra weight can increase gas mileage. Do them a favor, and let them know that they can clean out that car and actually save some money.
- Slow down. - Today's cars are designed to get their best gas efficiency at 55 mph. Increasing your average speed to 70mph can decrease your miles per gallon by five percent, so slow down!
- Get your preventative maintenance done on schedule. - Cars that aren't properly serviced can burn more gas. For example if your oxygen sensor isn't performing properly and your air/fuel ratio is off, you can lose up to 1 to 2 mpg in fuel efficiency.
- Avoid quick accelerations, - Yes, that car might go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds, but does it need to. Quick accelerations can reduce your mileage by up to 10%, so ease up!
- Pay attention to how you are using the air conditioner (AC). When you are driving slow, the use of the air conditioner in your car can burn more gas. But when you're on the highway, closing the windows and turning on the air conditioner can actually improve your mileage because you are reducing the drag on the car. A good rule of thumb is to always roll up the windows and use the AC when you are on the highway, and when conditions allow, roll them down in stop and go traffic and turn off that AC.
- Avoid stop & go traffic. Most people are aware of the big differences in mileage ratings for city and highway. That's because the frequent stops and starts of city driving uses more gas. If you can avoid driving in rush hour, avoid it. Also, try to maintain a safe stopping distance and use your brakes less on the highway. It will help you save gas.
- Drive less. Combine trips when you can. Consider taking alternate transportation. When was the last time you carpooled or took the bus or a train? And don't forget about biking or walking, you'll get a nice exercise bonus that might save you on health cost as well as gas.
- And, last but not least -- Don't time travel back to 2008. Gas hit it's highest price ever at an average of $4.11 across the nation. We're close, but we haven't topped the record 2008 gas prices. So when someone offers to take you for a ride in their time machine. Be sure to skip 2008!
Ask the independent auto repair shop that services your car how many different oils they keep in stock?
If the answer is just two or three oils then there is a good chance that the wrong oil is going into your car's engine. A few years ago an independent auto repair shop could stock just a few oils and have complete coverage. Now anywhere from 15-20 different oils are needed to have full coverage of popular cars.
Oils have changed dramatically, car makers want to get the most mpg and have their engines last a long time. They could be saddled with expensive warranty claims now that they have anywhere from 36k to 100k drive train warranties.
GM owners should be aware that their engineers have developed the dexos engine oil specification. This specification is designed to extend the life of the emissions system, increase mpg, require fewer oil changes and produce fewer emissions.
The new GF-5 specification is an advanced oil that allows longer periods between oil changes without loss of lubrication qualities, sludge build up or damage to your catalytic convertor.
Often I hear the expression “just an oil change”, well there are companies that offer “just an oil change”, but there is a good chance it will be inferior to using the right oil and the right oil filter. When you are protecting a modern complex engine that can cost anywhere from $6000 to $15,000 (or even more in some cases) it is best to be sure you are not penny wise pound foolish.
When you pick an auto repair shop to perform your oil change be sure they follow the manufactures check list that includes checking the safety features of your vehicle.The auto repair shop you chose should put your vehicle on a lift that leaves the wheels free to rotate and have technicians that are trained to perform preventive maintenance services not “just an oil change”!!
Many prospective car owners know that SUV's don't get the best mileage, but what about auto service and repair costs? Well, if you are thinking of buying an SUV, it's probably a good idea to look at the total picture. Here are 7 positives and 7 negatives to consider if you are thinking about purchasing an SUV.
- Higher Driving Position - The seats on SUV's are much higher than a standard auto. You will have a much better view of road.
- More Comfortable Seats - The seats on many SUV's are better. You will sit more like you do in a normal chair.
- 4-Wheel Drive - Most SUV manufacturers offer a 4-wheel drive (4WD) option. This can be an advantage on slippery roads that you might come across in bad weather (e.g. snow or rain) or if you are driving across rough terrain (e.g. mud, gravel, dirt roads, etc.)
- Added Protection - SUV's offer more protection than a small car in an accident.
- Better for Towing - If you are thinking of towing something, you are more likely to find an SUV that offers the tow capacity you are looking for.
- Ease of Loading - It can be a lot easier to load (and unload) things in the back of the vehicle. Plus, most SUV's offer more practical space than a standard trunk.
- Statement Vehicles - Some of the larger vehicles make a statement about the driver, and if you want to stand out when you are on the road this may be a positive for you, for example the Hummer.
- Purchase Price - The prices for SUV's start higher than a standard vehicle, so they can cost more to buy.
- Lower MPG - SUV's typically get lower gas mileage than standard cars, so they can cost a lot more to run.
- Higher Maintenance Costs - SUV's can cost more to maintain. Things like tires and brakes are typically more expensive.
- More Complex Vehicles - 4-Wheel Drive SUV's are more complicated, as a result there are just more things that can go wrong. The transmissions are more complicated, and they have an extra axle.
- More Difficult to Park - Larger SUV's are more difficult to park and in general are not very practical for use in crowded or older cities where parking spaces are at a premium or streets are very narrow.
- 4WD Option Not Really Needed - Many SUV owners lament that they never use the 4WD. Whereas this may not be a common complaint in Syracuse, NY, owners of SUV's in the Baltimore/Washington metro area may only use the 4WD a few times a year. It may not be worth the added cost.
- Handling Issues - Higher vehicles have a higher center of gravity. As a result, in emergency driving situations, SUV’s do not handle as well as a car that has a lower center of gravity.