Recession Proof Living: How to Save Money on Fuel

Unless you and Warren Buffet are on first name terms you are probably not enjoying the luxuries that come with have all the money in the world. Which probably also means that saving a few dollars here and there can make a difference at the end of the month—even the end of the year.

One of the biggest drains on the average American’s wallet nowadays is the cost of fuel; each time the ‘oil people’ flex their muscle, we feel it. But this doesn’t mean you can’t smile in the face of rising oil and gas prices. Thousands of people do, and in this short article I am going to show you some super cool ways to save money, whilst enjoying the comfort of driving your car.
Fuel economy basics

These days the talk is all about hybrids and how much they can help you save hundreds if not thousands each year in fuel costs. But unless you have $23,000 to $35,000 lying around, getting your hands on a spanking new Toyota Prius is not a viable goal for getting to grips with fuel economy. You therefore need to figure out ways of making the best of what you’ve got, or what you can afford and its starts with knowing the fundamentals of fuel economy.

According to Wikipedia, the fuel economy of an automobile is the “fuel efficiency relationship between the distance traveled and the amount of fuel consumed by the vehicle.” That’s another way of saying you get 35 miles to the gallon. This ratio varies from car to car and from manufacturer to manufacturer but it’s important to have a sense of what each class of vehicles deliver in terms of fuel efficiency. You can find lots of information about this by ‘googling’ your car make and model along with the term “fuel economy 1998.” The year of course referring to the date of manufacture for the car you own.

Beyond the standard rating delivered by each car, there are a few external factors that help determine how many miles you get to the gallon. A few are common, a few not so common. In any case here is a rundown of the key things that can impact your fuel efficiency:

  • Tire condition – few people realize that the condition of their tires can have a direct impact on their fuel efficiency. Worn tires are not only dangerous to you and other road users; they can make you burn more gas than usual. It’s important therefore that you keep check on your tires and replace worn ones as soon as you discover them.
  • Improper wheel alignment – another factor that leads to greater consumption of fuel is poor alignment of your car wheels. If the alignment is out of whack then it means the motion of the car is skewed. It may move, but it will work harder at moving and thus burn more fuel. Having your car wheels aligned and balanced regularly is an important part of staying top of gas costs.
  • Poor maintenance (under the hood) – most car manufacturers have a recommended timetable for servicing things like lubricants and filters. You must stick to these recommended intervals if you want to save money on fuel. The filter that regulates the flow of oil into the engine is particularly important. A choked up filter will make the engine work harder and this will affect fuel efficiency. Add the regular changing of spark plugs to this tip too. These regulate the smooth running of your engine and poor ones will make it drink more fuel than it needs to.

Of course, those are just the basics. Saving money on fuel requires commitment to a few bigger ideas – some require that you go beyond your usual scope of what saving money on gas means. The good news is that if you are really committed then the ideas (even if they make you uncomfortable at first) are worth acting upon.

So, here are few things you can add to the basics above in order to save some money on fuel:

  1. In the hot months we are all tempted to drive with the windows up and keep the air conditioning turned on full throttle. Being hot is not cool (pardon the pun) but with gas prices climbing as they are, working with the breeze that good mother nature provides is the way to go. If you live in a city it may be hard to do – especially if you are always stuck in traffic – but if you make a choice between your wallet and comfort things should be easier. So, go light on the AC, or better yet, don’t use it all during the summer. And here’s one more thing to consider: when driving at fast speeds (think highway), having the windows down increases drag and forces the car to work harder. This results in you burning more fuel. It may sound counterintuitive I know, but the guys in motor racing have spent billions working out things like that. Trust them.
  2. Some people think it’s cool to drive around with empty ski-racks, bicycle carriers and such likes. Not only is this practice not cool, it costs a lot of money. Many of these carriers increase the weight that the car has to lug around and this naturally causes it to work harder and burn more fuel. If you are committed to saving money on fuel consider ditching these appendages.
  3. This one may be an old wives tale but some people swear by it: wait until you hit quarter tank before you fill up. The rationale is that with only a quarter of tank in the car you are carrying a lighter fuel load and the car will do more with less effort. Of course at this level you want to keep your eye on things since running the car with less than a quarter tank of gas can damage the fuel pump.

Saving money on fuel is a top priority and with these powerful tips at your disposal you should see a difference in your wallet—it should be heavier.

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