Driving Down the Cost of Your Car Expenses
gas prices are a reality for everyone, but for a senior on limited
income, rising gas prices are even tougher to get a handle on.
According to AAA, the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas
across the U.S. is $3.96. That’s about a dollar more per gallon than it
was a year ago. And some experts are predicting that with the onset of
summer prices could reach as high as $5.00 per gallon in some
Seniors, especially, can benefit from knowing
how to curb the use of gas and find the best gas prices around town. A
quick way to find real-time gas prices at gas stations in your area is
to get on the computer. Some websites actually tell you what stations
are charging that day for a gallon of gas, saving you from having to
drive around, wasting gas, to find the best price. The sites include
maps, so it is easy to see where the station is located. You can even
ask the site for directions from your address to the station if you are
not sure how to get there or how far it is.
Knowing where to
find the best gas prices in your area helps you plan your route so that
it includes a trip to a less expensive pump. This driver-friendly
innovation helps drivers take back some of the control over surging gas
costs by helping them plan better before leaving the house. These sites
also provide many other helpful driving tools, such as assistance in
locating attractions, events and restaurants.
Thrifty gas price locator tools:
– Offers their trademarked Trip Tik® Travel Planner tool for
streamlined trip planning, information about gas prices in your area
and help in locating restaurants, hotels and other attractions across
MapQuest® Gas Prices – Allows you to plan a journey and find out where the gas will be cheapest along the way.
– Lists the lowest gas prices in your area, tracks industry trends, has
a “Trip Cost Calculator” that will estimate the amount you’ll pay for
gas and shows fuel prices nationwide with their “Heat Map” tool.
– Has a handy gas calculator that shows you whether driving to that
cheap station across town will save you money. Just plug in the
capacity of your car’s tank and its miles per gallon, the distance to
your primary gas station and to that cheap gas station and you’ll find
out exactly how much you’ll save (if any) by making the drive.
there is not much one can do about the price of gas, there are plenty
of money saving tactics that seniors can put into place long before the
tank hits empty. Many of these tips are good for fuel efficiency and
make your car run better and last longer. This translates to less money
spent on gas and car repairs over the long term.
AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge
This fun online tool provides up-to-date information for consumers
about current, daily gas price averages and historical gas price data
over the past year.
Tips Especially for Seniors
- If you are a veteran, you can gas up on military bases and posts around the United States, often for less money.
- Consider running errands with family or friends who need to go to the same stores or retail areas.
- Plan doctor appointments, lab tests and pharmacy visits all on the same day to consolidate the number of trips you have to make.
several errands in one trip. Plan the route in advance to make sure you
aren’t back-tracking or haven’t forgotten an important errand.
Downsizing the Number of Cars You Have
you own multiple vehicles, consider how you might be able to get rid of
one car. With car ownership comes many persistent costs – car
insurance, registration fees, basic maintenance, and of course,
gasoline. Seniors who are retired and don’t have to drive to a job
everyday may actually find themselves in a position to relieve this
drain on their finances. By reviewing driving routines, including
driving to the store, volunteer activities, doctor’s appointments and
visiting family, it may be likely that a couple could share one car.
The monthly costs saved from getting rid of one vehicle can greatly
alleviate the financial pressures of a retired person.
More Tips that Pay Off
performed a number of driving tests for fuel efficiency. Their findings
were that a driver would experience better fuel efficiency if a few
driving practices were changed. This chart shows how:
|Your fuel efficiency would be:|| If you would: |
|37 percent better || Drive less aggressively. If you can lengthen the time it takes you to go from 0–60 mph from 10 seconds to 15 seconds.|
|14 percent better||Drive
at lower speeds to save gas. Go the speed limit, instead of 5 mph or
more over the limit. The U.S. Department of Energy says, "Mileage
usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph." The slow lane is
where you find the happy people who are saving money on gas.|
|33 percent better||Use
cruise control. The reasons for this are that it smoothes out the
driver's accelerator by preventing nervous "surging,” and it makes the
driver take the long view of the road rather than reacting to every
change in the traffic around them.|
|19 percent better||Avoid excessive idling. Turn your car off rather than letting it idle.|
the hot summer months ahead, there is some good news for staying cool.
Edmunds.com found that a car used the same amount of gas when the car
had the air conditioner on with the windows up and when the car had the
air conditioner off with the windows down. They recommend
that you make yourself comfortable while driving.
Saving Money Through Car Maintenance
the cars that you do keep, maintenance is key to getting the best
performance out of your car. Cars are expensive – period. The old
adage “take care of your car and it will take care of you” certainly
speaks volumes, but those words are hard to hear when everything you do
to a car costs money – and aren’t we talking here about saving money?
truth is, when you regularly maintenance your car, it will run more
efficiently and the engine will have fewer repair issues over the life
of the car. To do this the right way, follow the manufacturer’s
guidelines for your car on oil changes, tire rotations and systems
checks. A dealer can also provide you with a printout of what kind of
service is recommended and at what mileage marker. This practice of
upkeep will actually save you money over time.
It is nice to
know there is much a driver can do to make the gas in the tank last
longer even though gas prices continue to rise. Pre-planning your
route with a trip to a less expensive gas station, considering your
driving habits and keeping your car on a regular maintenance plan, all
make for an improved driving experience. With these suggestions,
seniors can realize significant savings, leaving more money in the bank
and spend less time in the car, allowing more time for enjoying