Maximize Your Dollars by Maintaining Your Car
Why Pay More When Less Will Do?
I groan internally every time I see someone driving a Toyota Prius. That poor soul probably spent $15,000-$20,000 on their car in the hope of saving a little fuel. Sure, my $150 car isn't pretty and it doesn't get 60 mpg, but how much gas will you burn before you realize any true savings?
Now I'm not suggesting my rolling wreck is the way to go for everyone. Some folks just don't have a desire or talent to do their own maintenance or repairs. If that isn't your handicap and you have salvaged a good car from the recyclers, than I commend you! Technically we should have stopped producing cars 50 years ago - we would have been so far ahead of where we are now, but that's another discussion...
One of the best is to buy a 3-cylinder Geo Metro! Geo Metro Gas Mileage
I've been watching them on Ebay and Craigslist - watching as their value begins to surpass the original purchase price (well, not really but they are getting more expensive).
I chose to buy a VW. At the time you couldn't give them away but now the car I have sells for about $1,500 on average (older VW Rabbit).
When I first got the car running, I was getting about 25 mpg with a mix of city and highway driving. With each tank of gas, I began to notice a substantial drop in mileage. At 21 mpg, I knew I had to do something.
Common and Easy Maintenance Parts
I followed many if not all of the great tips from the Hubs shared above, but my mileage still suffered. I was running Chevron Supreme gasoline, hoping that my injectors weren't failing. Something was wrong. I drove an Ethanol powered V8 lifted full-size SUV before this car and I got this kind of mileage! I started my quest for better economy by getting the car properly aligned at a professional speed shop. No, the car doesn't track straight, but they were able to get it to stop wearing rubber off the tires...
Then a friend suggested I change the O2 sensor. The oxygen sensor is the "nose" of your cars exhaust system. If the computer can't smell the exhaust properly, it goes into a default "limp" mode, turning up the fuel to keep from burning up your engine by running the car too lean. When the O2 sensor(s) is working properly, the computer can determine how much un-burned fuel remains in the exhaust and will lean out the mixture to optimize efficiency. If you car is suffering from the low mileage blues, stutters, idles rough, or coughs, this is an easy and relatively cheap fix! This quick fix gained me a few points and brought me back up to about 25 mpg.
I was still not happy and the car still idled rough and had an occasional misfire. I determined to do a complete tuneup with my oil change. My local parts guy found some triple-cathode Bosch spark plugs (no longer made), come full-cap wires, and a true Bosch distributor cap and rotor for my kraut-rocket. Together with a change of oil to a lighter viscosity (10W-30), the tune-up set me back about $100 and took almost an hour. I immediately noticed more power and found that the "Made in China" distributor cap and rotor I had taken off the car were badly burned. A 235 mile road trip confirmed, I'm now getting 34 mpg in a 5 passenger car that I bought for $150!
No, my car isn't pretty and I've gotten to know my parts man a little too well. Expect that if you go this route for economy, you'll be adding your parts counter friend to your MySpace or Facebook account within a few months. But, is there anything like driving a car you built yourself, knowing that you saved another car from the scrap yard and saved yourself a few thousand dollars at the same time?