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Financially Driven: Getting The Most Out Of Your Vehicle For The Least Amount Of Money.

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

With the holidays quite literally just around the corner, and most of our friends and family a bit further than that, for many of us that means hitting the road, rather than staying home for the holidays.

But between presents and gas prices, may mean that Santa may have to tighten his financial belt, even if “he’s” driving and economy vehicle.

Experts suggest keeping a tally of your driving expenses to note what you’re doing right and what you may be doing wrong, when it comes to wheeling and dealing. And, they add that you can speed up savings by putting the following suggestions into practice.

1. Keep Moving: While most of us are inclined to let our car sit and warm up before we get in it, experts assert that just like idle hands, idle cars may also be the devils work. In fact, they suggest that cars heat up much quicker while in motion and the only thing most of us accomplish by allowing them to “warm-up” is wasting gas. And, they add that with most gasoline engines it’s more efficient to turn your car off rather than allow it to sit in idle for 30 seconds of more. Plus, getting out at your favorite spot and walking is good for YOUR health too.

2. Be A Smooth Operator: According to experts “flooring it” isn’t your best option. Not only is it dangerous but also doesn’t make the best use of your gas. In fact, professionals point out that keeping a smooth and steady pace is best for the most effective and efficient way to use your fuel. Accelerate to cruising speed without straining and then maintain that speed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the most fuel-efficient speeds range between 25 and 60 miles per hour. Plus, smooth driving helps increase the life of the engine, transmission and brakes.

3. Tow It Down: Towing things or piling things on top of your car only serves to increase aerodynamic drag and reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Experts note that even empty ski racks can be a waste of gas. And, if the A/C is on, keep window up.

4. Keep It Warm And Toasty: Keep in mind that vehicles work best when they are warm rather than cold. Cold cars not only use more fuel but also generate the dirtiest emissions and experience the most wear and tear. With that said, experts suggest avoiding many stops and short trips that require you to stop and restart your car. Instead. Try to combine as many errands as possible into one location and trip.

5. Fuel Up “Regularly”: Use ONLY regular gas if that’s what your car calls for. It won’t run better on high test. In fact, it may damage your engine, unless your dealer tell you that either or is fine. And, it’s good to keep in mind that the opposite may also be true. Some gars that call for premium fuel run equally as well on regular. So, again, it’s best to check. If there’s no change in engine performance, it’s a great way to cut back on costs.

6. Ditch “Designer” Brands: According to experts most “off-brand” gas is the same stuff found at franchised stations. Look for the cheapest brand you can find as well as looking for promotional sales at quick-lube shops. Simply make sure the establishment uses the correct service-grade and viscosity oil for your vehicle, and follow the recommended service intervals, which, according to industry experts, under normal driving conditions is every 7,500 miles not every 3,000 miles. And, if you are mechanically savvy and don’t mind, you can even change the oil yourself, and save yourself and extra $10 bucks.

7. Tune Into Your Car’s Needs: According to the Environmental Protection Agency the mileage posted on new-car window stickers is based on a well-tuned and maintained vehicle. However, operating a vehicle that’s below average can drastically lower that number. Plus a neglected engine and improperly tuned engine can cut gas mileage by 10 to 20 percent. According to experts, newer engines don’t need as many tune up but they still require regular maintenance and can experience component failures. In fact, a clogged air filter can cause up to 10 percent increase in fuel consumption. With that said, it’s imperative to follow your maintenance schedule and owner’s manual and take immediate action should something not feel, sound or smell right or if you feel or hear something rattling. Dealerships service departments generally feature the most updated, state-of-the-art equipment for servicing your car, plus, they tend to employ the most experienced professionals. And, if it’s the dealership you bought it at, generally speaking, even better.

8. You Better Shop Around: Experts suggest that not all service centers are the same and that you’ll want to shop around for the best price. Keep in mind that even different dealerships of the same brand may offer varying promotions and prices. Furthermore, routine maintenance can be done by independent shops, which are typically less costly than dealerships. Simply make sure you maintain proper (service) records and that they are handy. And, don’t forget to forget to check your owner’s manual for specifics on what the price includes for necessary service; or if you’re handy, you can do some of the basics yourself.

9. Keep Track Of Tires: Make sure your tires are properly inflates since underinflated tires need more energy to roll, and you risk a blow out. According to the EPA, a tire that’s underinflated by just two psi can result in a 1 percent increase in how much fuel you use. And, they can build up excess heat, which may result in tire failure. They recommend checking tire pressure monthly when tires are cold. The suggested tire pressures should be found on a label inside the car, typically in a doorjamb or inside the glove-box lid.

10. Do An Insurance Search: Make sure you also shop around for insurance. Professionals point out that some insurers may charge more, even double. Look in the yellow pages or on the Net for the best insurance-rate quotes available. Keep in mind you should always carry an ample amount of liability insurance, but you don’t need to spend frivolously on collision and comprehensive if you own an older car. Once collision and comprehensive premiums reach 10 percent of the car’s book value, experts suggest giving thought to dropping them. In addition, they recommend raising your deductibles to the highest limit you are comfortable with. And recheck competitive rates every year or two.

Long Island Money & Careers Articles > Financially Driven: Getting The Most Out Of Your Vehicle For The Least Amount Of Money.

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