By Heinz Bulos
1. Buy the right car. Get a car that’s fuel efficient, has good sources of spare parts and service, and with high resale value. Avoid the ones favored by carjackers, which naturally also have the steepest insurance premiums.
2. Buy a used car. Buy a pre-owned car, or what we like to call second-hand. When you buy a new car, the moment you it’s driven off the lot, it depreciates significantly and loses a big portion of its market value. A used car that’s only a couple of years old will come out a better value. If you’re uneasy about buying a lemon from a used car dealer, buy a certified pre-owned car direct from the manufacturer or from an individual you trust (have a mechanic inspect it). If you still want to buy a brand new car, drop the dealer’s options like extended warranties, rust proofing, paint sealant, fabric protection, and the like, which adds to the cost.
3. Keep your car at tip-top shape. Follow your car’s recommended maintenance schedule. It will save you a bundle in repair costs. There are some things you can do yourself, like changing the oil and filters. And check your tire pressure as under-inflated tires will result to higher gas consumption.
4. Gas up right. Schedule your trips to the gas station so you can pick the one with the cheapest gas (Petron is the price leader among the biggies). And fill up at night or early morning to avoid too much gas from evaporating. Don’t run on empty because your car will run less efficiently and use more gas. Replenish when you have half a tank.
5. Be a good driver. Don’t be a speed demon. Slow down at posted speed limits to save on fuel. Avoid sudden stops and starts as that uses up more gas and is bad for your brake system. Once you start the engine, don’t take too long to drive off. Similarly, avoid idling for more than one minute. Just shut it off. Unload stuff you don’t need as this decreases fuel economy. Don’t think you save gas by opening the windows at high speeds instead of using the air conditioner, since open windows create drag and reduces mileage. You do save fuel if you open the windows when driving at lower speeds. Park in the shade or use a car shade to keep your car cool and not let your AC work hard when you start. Plan your trips well and choose the right routes to avoid traffic jams and wasting gas.