In this article from the “Find Your Frugal” series, a UF/IFAS extension agent who specializes in community resource development shares five tips for minimizing car expenses.
Gas prices are rising, but just having a car can put a dent in your budget.
“Pre-planning is the key,” said Carol Roberts, one of several UF/IFAS Extension agents throughout the state who specialize in community resource development. “There are many cost-saving measures you can take now that will save you money over time, like concentrating errands into one trip and planning routes that result in the shortest distance using the least amount of fuel.”
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Here, Roberts adds his top five strategies for saving on car expenses.
It’s tempting to put off an oil change or new tires when money is tight, but keeping your vehicle running safely is money well spent. Make a spending plan and include a little money each month for car maintenance. If your car is still under warranty, keep up with scheduled maintenance to avoid voiding your warranty.
Under-inflated tires can reduce fuel consumption.
Most new cars come with a feature that displays tire pressure and even notifies you when one or more tires are flat. If you don’t know what your tire pressure should be, check your owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure.
You can also check the label located on the driver’s side door jamb. You can usually check your tire pressure and fill it up at a service station or gas station. A tire pressure gauge is required, and while most gas and service stations already have the gauge fitted to the air pressure hoses, tire pressure gauges are available at stores that sell auto parts.
Look for instructions on how to properly and safely inflate your tires at the service station or ask an assistant for help. Proper tire pressure can make up to a 3% difference in gas mileage, which adds up over time.
Excessive speed, brief braking and stop-start driving. Residual gases. Pressing the pedal to pass on the highway can also reduce gas mileage. Although each car model has a different speed range where fuel economy is at its best, speeds over 50 miles per hour are, for the most part, less efficient.
According to fueleconomy.gov, drivers may assume that “every 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an extra $0.31 per gallon for gas.” Adjust cruise control when possible. So slow down, relax and stay safe while saving money on gas.
Many times, we carry unnecessary items in our vehicles and that extra weight costs money. This affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones, but could reduce fuel consumption by around 1%. Also, avoid the temptation to use a cargo box attached to the roof of the vehicle.
These roof boxes can affect your miles per gallon by up to 8% at intra-city speeds and up to 25% at interstate speeds. If you must somehow transport it, consider a rear-mounted cargo box (reduces mpg 2%-8%) or remove it when not in use.
Running the A/C can reduce fuel economy by more than 25%, depending on a number of factors. But there are things we can do to stay comfortable in the heat while protecting our fuel economy. Use your windows and air conditioning strategically.
Roll down the windows to release hot cabin air when starting up or driving at lower speeds. The windows should be open at highway speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag.
Set the cabin temperature to a cool but not cold place. Speaking of cabin temperatures, help reduce it by using window shades, tinting, or finding those coveted shaded parking spots.
Find this and more information on fuel economy, including information on alternative fuel vehicles, at fueleconomy.gov. There’s even a tool to help you find the cheapest vehicle for your driving needs.
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