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Frugal girl’s guide to going green: gas mileage

Gas mileage.  Blerg.

Gas is high right now, and it has been high before.  People freak out and do smart things to raise their miles per gallon, and then it goes down again and people rush out and buy Suburbans and huge gas guzzlers to cart around their 1 kid.

Do I think that hybrids and plug-in vehicles are a good idea?  Yes!  Are they the solution to the gas issue?  No, but they are a component of the answer.  Can I afford one?  HELL No!  If I had unlimited funds, I’d have a 2011 Subaru Outback PZEV vehicle (partially zero emissions and 34 mpg) for family trips, and a plug-in for my daily commute.  Alas.

Between work, daycare, running errands on the weekend, and having dinner with my side of the family every Sunday, I consistently log 180 miles each week.  I drive a 2002 Subaru Outback with 105,000 miles on it.  This beast is perfect for our lifestyle but crappy for gas mileage – about 22 mpg.  But, it is paid for so I do what I can to improve my mileage and decrease my overall driving:

1) I’m diligent about maintenance – oil changes, changing air filters, etc.  Timely maintenance keeps your car running at it’s best.  It can also identify issues early on that are often cheaper to fix at the start as opposed to allowing an issue to continue.
2) Don’t cart around a ton of crap.  More weight = lower gas mileage.
3) If tolerable, lower your windows around town when it is warm.  On the freeway it is more economical to keep your windows up and use the a/c intermittently.  Having your windows down while cruising at 60 mph creates poor aerodynamics that can lower your gas mileage.
4) I combine all my errands that are on the same side of town as much as possible.
5) I stopped driving like a drunken sailor on leave.  I LOOOOOVE speed, but with a little dude in the car and speed leading to lower gas mileage, I now keep it under 65 mph on the freeway.  If I’m not holding up traffic, I’ll stick to the right lane and set my cruise to about 58 mph.  I do miss going fast though.
6) Don’t gun it off the line.  I drive a stick, so if I’m stopped at a steep hill, I have to punch it.  But any other time, I try to gradually get up to speed.

And just so this post isn’t just words, here is a photo of my cutie in the car.

Yo yo, head’s up, this post might contain affiliate links which help to support my site. And my canning, seed buying, and aggressive saving habits.

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2 comments on “Frugal girl’s guide to going green: gas mileage”

  1. Feel better I drive a 12 year old Tahoe and we get are you ready for it…. 15 mpg. We don’t highway drive much and when we do I think we might get 20mpg, but mostly we city drive so the mileage sucks. If money weren’t an issue I’d go for a Volt and just rent something for our handful of long trips each year 🙂

  2. We’ve become more homebodies than ever. But it goes deeper for us. We own a construction company. Prices for materials we need are going up. Gas to run our company rigs is going up. We can’t stop driving for work. These guys carry over 100 lbs of tools. Riding the bus is out of the question. And it’s a necessity that we trailer large piles of materials and equipment to each job. So we’ll be charging more if we can and still get the work. Companies needing work will need to budget more and may cut back, so not as much work may be available. Not good. And that’s just us. Many companies will have the same problem.