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Living Green-Saving Gas & Proper Car Care

Updated on January 11, 2017


Since we all can't afford to go out and buy a brand new hybrid vehicle, here are some tips for making the vehicle you have a little easier on the environment. Some help with gas mileage, some help reduce wear and tear on your vehicle so it will last longer, and some do both. I've also included a few things to think about if you are in the market for a new vehicle. Unfortunately, I can't tell you were to get the best deals for the actual purchase.

Happy Cruising


One of the sad things about today's world is that we no longer have much passion for our vehicles. Most of them look to much alike. We don't get a really good choice of colors. We spend too much time in them and they have become just a form of transportation. We're to dependant on them. So one of the first tips I'll give you about your vehicle is ....Leave it home. Walk to you child's ball game at the park down the street. Walk to the convenience store around the corner to get a loaf of bread. Walk to school. Walk any chance you get.

To Do List

1. Keep your tires properly inflated. You can do this yourself. There are several ways. (Please view the video to the right for a quick lesson.) You need a tire pressure gauge and an air pump. Some of you with newer cars may be able to have you car's computer check for you. I just bought a new car. It is a GM so I have OnStar. If you are signed up for this service, they will e-mail you all kinds of information about your car every month. There are many other features with OnStar. Check it out if you have it and see if it is worth the yearly fee for your life style. I can also display my tire pressure on my dash board. Check your owners manual for this feature. You will still need to check your owner's manual or the side of your tire for the max PSI. Do not over-inflate. This is just as bad as under-inflated tires. You can use an air pump at your local gas station or buy your own. If you buy your own do the research. They can be expensive and there are many types available. Some you have to plug in while using them. Some you just charge and can take anywhere. The ones you plug in seem to be of a little higher quality. The ones you charge are more convenient for using on the road. Use what is best for your needs. So how does this help you with gas usage? If your tires are under-inflated by 6psi, you may lose up to 5% of your fuel economy. The wear and tear on your tires also increases so you'll have to buy new ones sooner.

2. Rotate your tires on a regular basis. This will help with gas mileage and wear on the tire itself. You won't have to replace them as often. That means more money in your pocket and less waste at the dump. I know some people can do this themselves but you really need to know what you are doing and have all the right tools to do it. Most of the time it is just easier and quicker to have a professional do this for you. When you do need to buy new tires, do your research. You have to get the proper tire for your vehicle and each vehicle may have several options. Your owner's manual is a good place to start. They must be aligned and balances correctly.

3. Don't make your vehicle sit and idle. How many times have you seen someone, while driving, and have stopped your vehicle to talk to them? Do you leave your vehicle running for the whole conversation? STOP! If you have stopped your vehicle in a save place to chit-chat you can also shut off the vehicle. When you are idle you are getting 0 miles to the gallon. You can see the effect of this right on the sticker of your car when you bought it. All vehicles have 2 miles per gallon numbers. One for the Highway, when you are driving at a relative constant speed. And one for the City, when you are making many stops for things like red lights and stop signs. If it is hot out you are also putting more stress on your engine than you need to. So why would you just sit for 10-20 minutes talking while your vehicle is running?

4. Fill your tank at the right time of day. When you fill the tank, do it in the early morning or night time. When gas is colder it is also denser.

5. Don't fill up when the station is filling up. If the tanker truck is filling the tanks of the gas station DO NOT get gas. The filling up of the underground tanks stirs-up any sediment in the bottom of the tanks. This can get into your tank and clog your fuel system.

6. Don't buy gimmicky gadgets to save gas. With the exception of converting your Diesel vehicle to run on old cooking oil, I have not read about one after market gadget to put on your vehicle that actually saves you any gas mileage.

7. Clean out your car. All that unnecessary "stuff" you haul around weighs down the car. This leads to poorer gas mileage.

8. Have a schedule for maintenance. This is a very important one. Go to your owner's manual and read what the recommended times are to do maintenance like changing the air filter, oil and oil filter, servicing the transmission, A/C, engine cooling, and fuel systems. There are many "systems" that need to be regularly checked and maintained. All of them will help your vehicle run better. The vehicle itself will last longer and will need less repairs. Hopefully this will lead you to do #9 below.

9. Hold on to your vehicle as long as you can. Face it, your vehicle is one of the biggest purchase in your life. They can cost you any where from $20,000.00 to $50,000.00 and beyond. Do the math. I will use very simple figures and no interest for this example. If you buy a vehicle for $30,000.00 and put down $10,000.00 you have to finance $20,000.00. If you do that over 48 months your payment, just for principle, will be $417.00. If you hold on to the car for 3 years you will have paid $15,000.00 in payments and $10,000.00 for down payment for a total of $25,000.00. If you divide that by the 36 months you used it, you are paying $695.00 a month. If you pay the whole $30,000.00 but hold on to the car for 7 years you pay $355.00 a month. That does not include maintenance, registration, gas, etc. And as the car gets older it may require some repairs. So, if a vehicle is running well, is well maintained, and is not incurring more repairs then you are willing to put up with, Hold on to it as long as you can. With this in mind think carefully when you buy a vehicle.

10. Think when you are buying a new vehicle. Since your vehicle is such a huge expense, think about what you are buying. Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Where am I in my life? Single, family, empty nest-er? Can I see myself using this vehicle 5 years from now? (If you are expecting a baby is a small compact car realistic or are you going to have more children and grow out of it in 2-3 years?) Why do I need a new vehicle? How will I be using it most of the time, commuting, errands around town, travel, etc? How much can I spend? For this one, once you decide what you think you can spend, start putting it away in a bank account at the same time every month. If you find you are struggling to keep this up, you can't afford it. If you have no problems paying yourself you can use that money towards the down payment or keep it as a cushion in case you get hurt or lose your job. While you are paying yourself each month, do your research. If you are not pressed to buy a new vehicle right now, this process should take a few months. Read every article you can find on the vehicles you are looking at. On-line or at the library, any info you can get. You may be able to talk to your insurance agent. For example, most car companies have what I call "sister" cars. Acadia and Traverse, Sable and Taurus, Regal and Monte Carlo. Your insurance agent may be able to tell you about these sisters and which one is cheaper to insure. Find out how much it cost to maintain the car. Mercedes and BMW are highly engineered cars. They preform beautifully. This makes them high maintenance cars and the parts cost more. Lastly, you need to consider the impact on the environment. Miles per gallon is the biggest, most obvious concern, but there are others. The materials used to make the vehicle and to maintain the vehicle. The technologies used in the vehicle, Hybrid, Flex fuel, diesel, solar cooling systems, all have there own set of side effects. Research them and find out which one works for you. The type of vehicle you buy effects how you use it during it's life with you. The fuel you use and the maintenance you have to do, the tires you buy and the repairs required later in it's life should all play a part in the answer to the question, what type of vehicle should I buy?

Emergency Kit

Now that you have your vehicle running the best it can, you need to be prepared for those roadside emergencies. These can happen to anyone, at anytime, no matter how well you maintain your vehicle. This list will give you a good core to start with. When deciding what you would like to include in your emergency kit consider what type of repairs you can do. Basically your not going to change your oil on the side of the road. You may want to make a quick repair that will get you to a safer place or all the way to a service station. The last thing to consider is the temperature you are traveling in. Winter or summer. You should modify your kit when that changes. For example, the windshield fluid you carry can have an anti freeze in it for the colder months. It is also a good time to check your kit and replace anything that has gone bad. This may include batteries for your flash light. You can also recharge any of the equipment, like a battery jumper, that you have included.

1. Quart of oil. Make sure it is the weight recommended for your engine.

2. Windshield wiper fluid.

3. Transmission fluid.

4. Tire pressure gauge.

5. Portable battery jumper. There are many types. Do your research to find the one best for you. Think about your skill level. You can look at the two videos at the bottom right to get an idea of the type you might want.

6. Paper towels and/or some rags.

7. Blanket.

8. "Help" sign or flag.

9. Flashlight.

10. First aid kit.

11. Extra fuses with a fuse puller if needed.

12. Garbage bags.

13. Emergency road side light. There are many out there, so you have to research to find one you like. Mine comes in a case. It has several colors for the light and different flash patterns.

14. Antifreeze-water mix. This is better then just water which can freeze during the colder months.

15. Anything else you are comfortable working with and think you need.

16. A plastic storage bin with a lid to store everything in. This is very important if your vehicle does not have a trunk that is separate from the cabin of the vehicle. Anything in the cabin can become a projectile if you stop short or worse have an accident. You don't want screw drivers flying around if this happens to you.


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      9 years ago

      An auto warranty can help cover those big automotive repairs, but nothing is more essential then regular maintenance. Good solid advice.


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