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Beyond the Pump: Gas Mileage and Your Money

To remix an old tongue-in-cheek saying, there are three absolutes in life: death, taxes, and rising gas prices. If you depend on your car for daily transportation, then filling up its tank is probably one of the most significant portions of your budget.

It may be worth it to adopt practices that make your fuel last longer. Not only will it save money, it can also extend your vehicle’s service life. Here are some practices you can adopt that may save gas, reduce visits to the pump, and take your dollars further.

Things You Can Do Before Hitting the Road

One habit you can adopt fairly early is reducing car trips. This may be counterintuitive depending on where you live. However, assessing your car use and making even slight adjustments can make a difference. To start, try grocery shopping less often to save a trip. Elsewhere, try to arrange a car pool with friends, or opt to use a bike or public transportation.

When you do need to use your car, it’s a good practice to be aware of any potential mechanical issues. Check for dashboard warning lights and refer to your manual to know what they mean. Many auto parts stores may offer diagnostic checks for free, letting you know about car troubles before scheduling a visit to a repair center.

Try filling up at the gas station early in the morning or late at night. Gas is sold by volume, and it’s denser the cooler it is. As such, it is possible to get more gas for the same amount of money compared to filling up at the middle of the day when temperatures tend to be the hottest.

While we’re on the topic of paying at the pump, try using a debit or credit card that grants rewards points with each purchase. The points you earn can be used later to reimburse payments for gas.

Also, check your tire pressure frequently. Underinflated tires directly affects gas mileage and the safe handling of your vehicle. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and learn to identify when it’s time to rotate or replace the tires.

Refine Key Driving Habits While on the Road

You would be surprised at how much gas gets wasted due to driving style. Making some slight adjustments to behavior can potentially improve your fuel economy. Try these strategies the next time you’re on the road:

  • Go easy on the pedal and accelerate slowly
  • Drive the speed limit on the highway
  • Use cruise control when away from the city
  • Turn off the engine when waiting curbside

Some of these recommended behaviors may be difficult to try all at once for different reasons. Alternately, you can mix and match to find a combination that works best for you.

Maintenance Always Matters

One of the most effective ways to save money is preventing major mechanical problems from happening. Establish a maintenance plan that keeps your vehicle’s critical components in top shape.

A well-maintained car has more efficient gas mileage—and also lessens the likelihood of a mechanical breakdown. Keep an eye on your car’s tire pressure, tire tread wear, filters, and mileage. In almost all cases, the cost of maintenance is far lower than needing to replace a critical component. Be aware of when it’s time for a tune-up.

For instance, oil changes are predictable since they are based on mileage. Take note of your car’s mileage and schedule a tune up as you approach the milestones recommended by the manufacturer. Other maintenance tasks you can add to your To-Do List include:

  • Monitoring engine oil, transmission, and coolant levels
  • Checking tire pressure and filling your tires
  • Cleaning the engine air filter
  • Removing excess items from the car

Your car is big part of your of your life, so it makes sense to take care of it at every opportunity. Adopting good car maintenance and driving habits does more than take your gas dollars further. It also keeps the road safer for everyone.


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