Everyone screams about gas prices but few do sensible things to lower their costs. Recently a guy came into my shop complaining that his car was getting 14 mpg instead of its rated 26 mpg. A short, scary ride told the story. The car ran like garbage and the driver was a certifiable maniac.

He didn’t mention his scary-aggressive driving and blamed the car’s pitiful condition on high gas prices. Like many drivers he was skipping repairs till things broke and completely ignoring elective services.

Unfortunately, sky high gas prices won’t make your oil or transmission fluid last one mile longer; extend the life of coolant, brake fluid, or any other car part. A missed service might save a hundred bucks today but cause five hundred in damage.

Avoiding preventive maintenance is bad but not performing repairs could make the car literally eat parts and dangerous. On the maniac’s car the brakes were so worn they had destroyed the car’s rotors and were well on the way to causing hundreds of dollars in damage to other parts. Every stop was probably costing him at least ten dollars. Another guy didn’t fix a fifty buck engine noise and killed a four grand engine. High gas prices are hurting everyone but ignoring service is not the answer.

A better plan is to get the most miles per gallon. Not with expensive gimmicks that promise to defy the laws of physics with huge mileage improvements. Those never work but good driving always does. Proper tire pressure and alignment could add a couple miles per gallon so will clean oil, and well-maintained fuel and ignition systems. Cleaner engines and transmissions mean more fuel-efficient cars.

But the all time champion fuel waster is; attitude! Get behind the wheel; lose the attitude. A heavy foot and gotta-be-first attitude are colossal fuel hogs. You prove absolutely nothing by being first away from a stop or needlessly passing? At best you’ll get to your destination a few measly seconds quicker!

Gotta-be-first is absurdly expensive. One full throttle blast from a stop or passing just to gain a car length or two can use as much gas as sensibly driving three full miles. Burning three miles worth of gas to travel two or three hundred feet is foolish and doesn’t impress anyone that matters! Being second could get many drivers an extra hundred miles per tank.

Poor driving technique and maintenance can reduce gas mileage up to forty percent. Waste just ten percent of your mileage at four dollars per gallon and it’s like paying an extra forty cents for each gallon. If you’re a serious lead-foot who’s losing forty percent of each gallon, you’re paying the equivalent of nearly six bucks a gallon.

Better gas mileage is more than nuts and bolts. Ego be damned! Ease up on the throttle, drive gently, you will save gas.



© Copyright 04/23/11 Pat Goss all rights reserved

1 comment

September 2, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Great tips, Goss! Ive grown up listening to your great automotive tips, and I can think of very few that didnt stick with me throughout my life of driving! Thank you for all the great advice!!

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