Gasoline prices have continued to climb over the last decade, and unfortunately, wages are stagnant , if not declining. What can we do to reduce car expenses without a major lifestyle change?
Leave your spare tire at home
A typical donut sized spare tire weights between 30 to 35 pounds. If you have a full size spare tire, it weights even more. As a result, leaving your spare tire at home not only improves fuel economy, but also improves acceleration.
I have been doing this for four years, and so far have not gotten a flat tire. (I am thankful for that.) Instead, I have a 24-hour country-wide roadside assistance phone number stored in the glove compartment, and a portable tire inflator (which plugs into the cigarette lighter) stored in the trunk.
In fact, a lot of new cars on the market today do not come with a spare tire: 2008 Ford Focus, 2009 Toyota Sienna, BMW 1 series, Mazda MX-5, and Honda Fit are some of the popular models that have no spare tire.
Fuel Injector Cleaner
A dirty engine is inefficient and makes acceleration sluggish. One of the most cost effective solutions is to use fuel injector cleaner. Think of it as a detox for your car – it cleans the interior of the engine while you drive.
A bottle of fuel injector cleaner costs about $5 to $8. They are available at the automotive departments of most major retail chains. Right before filling up the gas, pour a bottle of fuel injector cleaner into the gas tank. It helps improve gas mileage and restore lost power. Using it once every 5000 km should be sufficient to keep your car running smoothly.
Follow Maintenance Schedule
Most people follow the maintenance schedule when the car is new. As the car ages, things tend to slip. To prolong the life of the vehicle, (i.e. save money in the long run) it is important to perform oil changes and other regular maintenance on a regular basis. And it need not be expensive. Most shops charge between $35 and $45 for an oil change and it takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes.
Some helpful tips: Book an appointment in advance. If possible, try to bring in your car early in the morning on a Wednesday or Thursday, as those are usually the least busiest days of the week for shops. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, do a price check first. Labour rates vary greatly even for dealers.
Monitor Tire Pressure
Keeping tires properly inflated reduces tread wear and improves fuel economy. Ideally, tire pressure should be checked every two weeks.
Nitrogen Gas Tire Inflation
The reality is, most people do not monitor the tire pressure on a regular basis. Fortunately, there is an inexpensive alternative – Nitrogen.
Air molecules escape from the tire rubber which cause a loss in pressure. The solution is to inflate the tires with Nitrogen gas. Prices range from $10 to $20 for four tires. And if you purchase the tires from Costco, Nitrogen inflation is free of charge.
PASAP (Park as soon as possible)
Whenever you go to a mall, instead of driving around the parking lot hoping to find a parking spot closest to the entrance, try to park at the first available spot. Not only does it save fuel and reduce engine wear, it also eliminates the stress of getting into an argument with someone who thinks that “I am here first.”
Abide by the Law
This sounds trivial, but it is easily forgotten especially when people are in a rush. A traffic ticket can cost hundreds of dollars. Plus your insurance premium would probably increase as a result.
Wear a seat belt, drive within speed limits, make a complete stop at stop signs and so on only take seconds. Being a law abiding citizen saves you money and in some cases, saves your life.
Kevin, the creator of AutoMaxBlog.com is a car enthusiast from Toronto, Ontario. He is a certified automotive paint protection film installer. In his spare time, he enjoys blogging about cars and is passionate about photograpy.