5 Major Ways to Save Money on Gas
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I know you just want to get to the meat
of how to save money on gas, but let me just lecture for
Petroleum products, including gas, are not going to become
cheaper. One of the reasons for this is simply that they
are limited and more and more people are competing for a
diminishing supply. This is Economics 101 stuff and is known
as supply and demand. As supply goes down and demand goes
up, the price goes up. Anyway, when was the last time you
saw major price reductions on a commodity like gas?
At the same time, people around the world are beginning
to realize that not only are petroleum supplies limited,
but the effects of burning gas and other petroleum products
to power cars, factories, and your lawn mower are creating
a highly unstable environmental situation...one which may
have disastrous consequences for our children and grandchildren
if not for us.
Therefore, these tips not only tell you some ways you can
simply save money on gas, but also nudge you a little bit
along the path of change. As we have often heard, "If
you keep doing what you've been doing, you will keep getting
what you have been getting." We have been getting more
pollution and higher gas prices. Isn't it time to make some
sort of change?
Now, who am I and where do I get my info? Well, I have done
a lot of research and reading, but I have also been a long-haul,
over-the-road trucker and owned my own truck. With a vehicle
that got 6 to 8 MPG and with 300 gallon tanks to fill every
couple of days I became attuned to ways to reduce my out-of-pocket
expenses. Last year, I traded my Dodge Intrepid and Isuzu
Rodeo for a Toyota Prius hybrid...which is a great car.
While you can do all sorts of things, including walking,
in order to save money on gas, here's my top five picks.
1. Trade in the gas guzzler:
Now, I don't have hard and fast figures on this, but I am
willing to bet, based on personal observation, that at least
50% of people have much bigger, gas-guzzling cars than they
need. Although I am off the road as a truck driver, I sometimes
write articles on places I have visited, and this requires
a certain amount of travel. All day long, whether in California
or in Georgia, I see big SUV's and trucks that only get
a few miles to the gallon being driven by one person. I
also see a lot of hot-looking, and sounding, cars that I
know get really bad mileage. A lot of people drive these
back and forth to work every day!
I was talking to a guy yesterday at a motel in Abilene.
He's going on a trip to the Grand Canyon with his kids.
His truck gets 15 MPG! Where he is going, gas is hovering
close to four dollars a gallon. If he only goes 1,000 miles
each way, he needs 133 gallons. That comes out to about
$500 just for gas at $3.75 a gallon. If he were to have
a smaller, more fuel efficient car that got around 30 MPG,
he could cut that in half. If he had my Toyota Prius, it
would cost about $150.
How about commuting? Let's imagine my new friend from the
Abilene motel drives 10 miles to work each day. At 20 miles
a day, that's 140 miles a week. Since he's probably going
to get stuck in traffic sometimes, I'm just going to say
that his average gas use is 14 MPG (easier math) and he
needs 10 gallons of gas just to get back and forth to work
each week. Let's just say gas costs $3.00 a gallon. That's
$30 a week for gas just to get to work and back. Again,
getting a smaller car with double the mileage would result
in a $15 a week savings. That doesn't sound like much until
you think about it as an extra $60 a month (pay your water
bill?), or $360 a year.
Oh yeah! With a Toyota Prius (Can you tell I like it?),
he would save over $80 a month or $480 a year.
2. Keep your tires inflated properly:
Proper tire inflation saves money on gas. One study conducted
by the Rubber Manufacturers Association estimated that only
15% of drivers check their tire inflation properly. It is
interesting to note, by the way, that the study also showed
that more people check their tire pressure as gas prices
go up! Not only can proper inflation save you money on gas,
but it saves you money on tires themselves. Properly inflating
your tires can help handling and cut down on wear and tear
on steering components.
3. Slow down: Here's
a little fact for you - Fuel economy drops about 10 percent
between 55 mph and 65 mph, and 17 percent between 55 mph
and 70 mph. Do I really need to say more? Come on, tell
the truth. How fast were you going on the Interstate this
morning on your way to work?
Now, here's what I see every day on the highways of America.
One person driving a gas-guzzling SUV with at least two
under inflated tires at a speed near or in excess of 70
MPH! Do I really need to belabor this point? Suffice it
to say that adherence to points 2 and 3 would save this
person a lot of money, and cut down on pollution and our
dependence on foreign oil.
4. Pay attention:
Try this on for size. I see this one all the time also.
Since I was not only an over-the-road driver but also an
instructor, I used to teach students to "play the lights"
and pay attention. How much gas your car needs to use is
based largely on what you NEED it to do. Yesterday, as a
few thousand times before, I was cruising down a road and
saw the light about an eighth of a mile ahead turn red.
I was going to have to stop anyway, so I took my foot off
the accelerator. No sooner had I done so than the driver
behind me (individual in a big SUV with an under inflated
left rear tire) pulled out to the left, accelerated around
me, pulled back in front and then accelerated a few more
feet until he finally realized that the light was red and
then slammed on his brakes. Guess how much gas he wastes
Folks, it's simple. Wherever you are going is probably NOT
going to move before you get there! Pay attention to what
is happening in front of you and around you. If you are
going to have to stop anyway, why not slow down and stop
rather than burning extra fuel to get to the stop faster?
A lot of that "pedal to the metal" kind of driving
comes from stress. Also, studies have shown that driving
like that raises your stress level even more.
5. Keep your car properly maintained:
If your plugs are clean, your oil is changed regularly,
and the car is lubed, you will get better gas mileage. The
engine and connected parts will be able to work more effectively
and efficiently, and this translates to more miles per gallon.
By the way, most of the synthetic motor oils available today
will help you save money on gas by allowing your car to
run more efficiently for longer periods between oil changes.
This is an extra savings, by the way. Although synthetic
motor oils cost more per quart than petroleum based lubricants,
they last much longer, resulting in savings in cost of the
oil as well as savings in cost of the oil change if you
are paying someone else to change your oil for you. You
are also helping cut down on the use of our limited supply
Of course, these are not the only ways that you can save
money on gas. You can carpool, find less congested routes
to and from work and shopping, shop online instead of in
a traffic jam, take turns driving kids to school, set it
up with friends and neighbors to take turns running errands,
combine errands into a single trip, or even learn to walk
or bike short distances rather than driving. Hey, you might
save money on healthcare with that last one, as walking
or cycling around the neighborhood can help you with fitness,
health, and weight loss, and that generally translates into
fewer trips to the doctor, and fewer medications or medical
As they say in Germany, "Leb Wohl!"
Oh yeah! That means, "Live well!"
What a concept!
Donovan Baldwin is a Texas
writer. He is a University of West Florida alumnus, a member
of Mensa, and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years
of service. His interests include art, nature, animals, the
environment, global warming, health, fitness, and weight loss.
You may learn a little more about how to save money on gas
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