Frugal Transportation

According to the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of gas in the US today is $2.86, and a recent article in the New York Times reported that carbon dioxide emissions from the use of coal, oil and natural gas increased 1.4% globally in 2017 after remaining steady since 2014. That’s like putting 170 million new cars on the road worldwide! But here’s the thing: making a few changes can save you money and help the environment. So let’s get started…

  1. Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. Replacing your fuel filter at least every 50,000 miles improves your gas mileage and helps protect your car’s engine.

  2. Experts recommend replacing your vehicle’s air filter every 15,000 – 30,000 miles but you may want to change it more often if you drive on dirt roads or notice sluggish acceleration or rough idling.

  3. Make sure your gas cap fits correctly. It’s such a small thing, but a gas cap with a poor seal can allow a lot of gas to evaporate. It will also trigger the “check engine” light to come on, causing your vehicle to fail an emissions test.

  4. For most vehicles it is recommended to change the oil every 5,000 – 7,500 miles. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for the right grade of oil. Also consider using re-refined oil. It is the same quality as the oil refined from virgin crude, must pass the same performance tests, satisfies all manufacturers’ engine warranties and costs the same or less than conventionally produced oil. The best part is that it takes less than 2 gallons of used oil to produce 1 gallon of re-refined oil while it takes 84 gallons of crude to yield the same amount! And used oil can be re-refined over and over again.

  5. Keeping your tires inflated at the correct psi (pounds per square inch) improves gas mileage and reduces both tire and engine wear. This has to do with resistance which makes the engine work harder.

  6. Be mindful of how you get rid of your used tires. Most states have banned them from landfills due to their leaching of chemicals of toxins into the soil. But tires can be recycled into things like carpeting, roof tiles, floor tiles, doormats, playground surfacing and outdoor furniture. Look online for your local tire recycling locations.

  7. Your driving habits can affect your gas mileage. Rapid starts and hard braking can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40%. And watch your speed on the highway – gas mileage decrease at speed above 60 miles per hour.

  8. Planning your route and stops before leaving the house can save you both time and money, and you can combine several errands in one trip. If you can, adjust your work hours so you are commuting when there is less congestion and not spending time just sitting in traffic.

  9. Public transportation may not be available or practical for everyone, but check into what is available in your area. And consider carpooling, it not only saves money but also reduces pollution and traffic congestion. If you live close enough to work or school, consider biking.

Some families have found that they can get by with just one vehicle and some people have given up owning a vehicle entirely, as even renting a car several times a year is cheaper than owning one. Many US cities now offer car-sharing programs that allow you to rent a car by the hour or by the day. Deciding to give up your vehicle is a big step and obviously won’t work for everyone, but it’s good to know there are options out there! Walking is still the oldest and least expensive form of transportation and has the added benefit of being good for you. When enough people do just a few of the things on this list it not only saves us money but helps us take better care of the earth.

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