Fuel prices are up a whopping 11%. There’s actually a woman who is addicted to drinking gasoline on that reality show “My Crazy Obsession.”  When I saw that episode, my first thought was “Wow, that’s an expensive habit. She must be a trust fund baby.” And my second thought was “I suppose she doesn’t smoke. Or, rather, she can’t smoke.” Either one is a very expensive habit. But, lighting up a cigarette would certainly cure that addiction. I’m sure her therapist, a professional, would have a better, less painful solution.
Fuel prices increased from $3.29 in mid-December 2011 to $3.65 by mid-February 2012, and are projected to be up to $5.00 this summer. The average driver will pay well over $20 extra each month to fuel his or her vehicle. Following a few easy driving and maintenance tips could save you enough to off-set some or all of this extra cost. So, give these gas mileage tips a try, and saving fuel and money might just become a habit…or perhaps just another crazy obsession.

Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money. Use cruise control whenever possible and avoid excess idling. Also, using overdrive gears will help. Removing excess weight will help (not your spare tire…you may need that). And observing speed limits will also help. Not to mention saving you money that you don’t need to be giving away to Johnny Law.

Keep your engine properly tuned-up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent. If you can’t afford it all at one time, make a plan to do a few things each month. It will pay off.

Keep tires properly inflated. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner’s manual (you know…that cute little booklet that is probably still in its factory sealed bag).

Use the recommended grade of motor oil. You can improve your gas mileage by 1–2 percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil.

Keep your vehicle properly aligned. When your vehicle’s wheels are not perfectly aligned they cause additional friction with the road increasing gas consumption. Not to mention the wear on your tires. And, unlike hair, you can’t just “comb” the tread over the bald spots. Aligning your vehicle will also increase your tire’s tread life, thereby saving you money on replacing them sooner than expected.

A little extra maintenance keeps the repairman away. Keep your car running well for a long time to come by obsessing over the little things…one thing at a time.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson