Make smart driving choices to save on gas money

This article was originally published on Monday, 11 March 2013 as the Money Matters article in the Guam Pacific Daily News (PDN).  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

The rise in our cost of living has forced us to be creative with how we save and spend our money. We once again have seen the price of fuel go up and down. Let’s face it. The price of fuel may never be back to $3 a gallon or less. We cannot control the price of gasoline or how it affects our cost of living but we can control our consumption and ultimately our spending.

Maintaining your vehicle and your driving performance can increase or decrease your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and gas costs. Consider some of these tips which can increase your savings:

•Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking increases your car’s fuel consumption. Guam’s stop-and-go traffic can make this difficult. But leaving earlier, giving room between you and the car ahead of you, and curbing road rage will put money back in your pocket. It can lower your gas mileage by as much as 5 percent. That’s equivalent to saving about 17 cents per gallon. In addition to that, following the speed limit is safer for you and others and decreases your chances of an accident, which in turn could keep your car insurance rates down.

•Plan ahead and think of the route you’ll be taking. Combine errands into one trip. Your car uses more fuel when it takes small trips and starts off cold versus when the engine is warmed up and efficient after one longer trip. Cut back on unnecessary travel.

•If you can, try carpooling with family, friends, or co-workers.

•Avoid having your car idle for long periods of time when parked. Guam is hot and we often leave the car running to keep it cool. Unfortunately that wastes gas.

•Speaking of keeping cool, turning your air conditioning to max also increase fuel consumption. Keep the air temperature at a comfortable level. Using your air conditioner’s re-circulate function also uses less fuel by re-circulating cool air from the cabin rather than having to constantly cool warmer air taken from outside of the car.

•Keep your tires properly inflated. This is a simple and inexpensive way to improve your car’s gas mileage. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent for an equivalent savings of 13 cents per gallon. Most vehicles today have the recommended tire pressure on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door

•Take your vehicle in for regular maintenance. Clogged air filters, faulty oxygen sensor, or a car out of tune can greatly decrease your car’s performance and increase your car’s fuel consumption.

If you’re in the market for a vehicle, take into consideration how fuel efficient the vehicle is. If it’s a new car the mpg usually is displayed as a sticker on the windshield. Do note that highway mpg and city mpg are different. Because Guam doesn’t have highways, it’s best to look at the city mpg, which is most appropriate for Guam’s stop-and-go traffic.

If you are considering a used vehicle you still can find the mpg at www.fueleconomy.gov. This website also has tips from the U.S. Department of Energy on saving money and fuel.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog atwww.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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