We’ve all heard that simple measures like changing your spark plugs and filters and keeping your tires inflated can help save fuel. But exactly how much do those savings equal in dollars? It could be quite a lot, considering this winter’s unusual rise in gas prices. In a typical year, gas prices drop a few cents after Labor Day and rarely break $3 through the fall and winter, say economists with the Energy Information Administration. The National Association of Convenience Stores agrees, adding that retailers switch from more expensive summer blends to less expensive blends in the fall, and traditionally see prices at their lowest in January. Unfortunately, this year is anything but typical, with gas prices breaking $3 per gallon in most markets nationwide.
Here are some numbers to put it all in perspective. Crude oil prices are nearing $90 a barrel, spurred upward in part by a weakening of the dollar. When the dollar drops, investors are quick to bid on crude oil, driving up the per-barrel costs. For every dollar that crude oil prices rise, drivers pay about 2.5 cents more at the pump.
So how – and how much – can you save?
According to AAA, replacing your spark plugs before their stated life span is up can save up to $450 a year in wasted fuel. It’s during the last 20% of a spark plug’s life that misfires and incomplete combustion occurs most frequently, so changing them before you hit that last stretch can save you money, time and frustration.
Changing your air filter every 10,000 miles (about once a year for typical commuters) can save up to $270 a year. Dirty filters eat up your car’s fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent.
Underinflated tires can cost you upwards of $600 in wasted fuel each year. Plus, they wear faster. What do your tire replacements cost? Add the potential costs associated with the increased risk of a tire-related car crash and it’s clear – keeping your tires inflated to the proper levels should be a non-negotiable no-brainer.
So far – that’s an average $1,320 you can save this year! Keeping your cool behind the wheel also saves. Aggressive driving with rapid acceleration and breaking can cut your gas mileage by five percent on city streets and a whopping 33 percent at highway speeds. Seriously. Chill out, dude.
Another tip – If you’ve to a load of errands to run, plan to run them all in one trip. Several cold-start short trips can suck up twice as much fuel as a longer trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.