Tuesday, May 20, 2008


These gas prices are crazy. And we have it pretty good in Texas, compared to some other places. I can't imagine how some folks are making ends meet these days. Young folks and hourly wage folks are spending their first hour's pay just to get to work and home again. I try to keep it in perspective. We're lucky that gas is still a fairly small part of our family budget, and that MommaLlama is able to stay home with the kids and not drive much. But seriously, anything that doubles in price in three years is going to have an effect on most families' budgets.

I get 32 mpg and will drive about 14,000 miles per year. Had I bought a Civic instead of my little Mazda, I'd be getting about 2 mpg more, which even at $4 a gallon would only save me about $100 per year. The very low interest rate and much cheaper insurance (apparently Hondas get stolen more frequently) more than make up for the slightly lower mpg. But it's still hard putting $50 into the tank of a supposed "economy car".

I remember the first time it cost us more than $10 to fill up MommaLlama's old Geo. It must have been 1999, and we were used to 8-gallon fillups at about 90 cents per gallon. Parting with more than a $10 bill almost gave us a heart attack. Now, try 31 gallons at $3.72... Yikes! We have yet to break $100 because we usually tank up well before the warning light comes on, but it's only a matter of time.

Until hybrids and electric cars get cheaper, here is a good article for those who are looking to scrape a couple extra mpg out of whatever you're currently driving. To summarize:
1) Inflate your tires properly, perhaps even plus 2-3 psi. Check them every other week. Lower rolling resistance = better mpg.
2) Slow down. The difference between 60 mph and 75 mph can be significant, maybe 20% better fuel economy. And let's face it, with kids on board and frequent potty breaks, what's the point of trying to "make time"? Just leave earlier. An added benefit of not speeding is that you never have to watch for cops, and you rarely have to pass anyone else. Just park it in the right lane, Gramps, you'll get there soon enough.
3) The most efficacious tip is to accelerate and brake gently. No need to beat that other guy to the next red light. Keep your rpm's low, short shift in a manual or watch the tach and let it upshift below 3000 rpm in an automatic.


La Familia said...

I drove around town remembering your tips today. Thanks for posting them. We will driving to the beach in our Honda Civic which is really good on gas, though it's smaller and bit of a bumpier ride.

Daddio said...

I'm tempted to take the Mazda...