Pay By The Mile

Part IV of the Auto Saving Series. If you missed a segment, start at the beginning.

While it may not be $5 the way it has been before, gas still costs an arm and a leg. And if you do not know it, driving across town to save on gas totally defeats the purpose of saving money.

What does it cost?

The government deduction for a driven mile is $0.48. Ever wonder why? If you are algebra-phobic, relax. This is simple math. Add the following yearly costs:

  • Addition, division, subtraction and multiplica...

    Image via Wikipedia


  • Tire maintenance
  • Oil maintenance
  • Mechanical maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Registration
  • Vehicle licensing

Did you get an astronomical figure? Most of us do. Divide that monstrosity by the number of miles you drive in a year. You should come up with a number in the ball park (give or take 10 cents) with the government’s number. Close enough for government work, eh? (Quick tax advice: If your number is higher, itemize.)

Despite the obvious choice of driving more miles to make the price per mile lower, do not think you are saving money…you are spending more.

How many miles is it to the cheap gas station? Multiply that by your number. Gasp Do you know where I am going yet?

Winning the Numbers Game

If your number is lower, you are already ahead of the game, but can make more of an impact. If your number is spot-on, you need to be looking for ways to save. The first place is gasoline. Did you read Cut the Gasoline Budget?

Road Closed

Image by MOEVIEW is Aaron Molina via Flickr

Stay on the path.

The biggest theme to CTGB is driving less. If you have to drive 6 miles round trip to get a cheaper price, you will spend $2.88. The gasoline is 5 cents cheaper per gallon. If your tank is bone dry and you fill it completely full, the most you will save is $1.25 (based on a 25 gallon tank).

Let’s review: To save on gas you drive to a gas station only 3 miles from your normal path.

$2.88 (spent) – $1.25 (saved) = $1.63 spent to save money

Now do you see why you should by gas at a place you pass everyday?

Clean your injectors.

Some of you may still be driving a car with a carburetor. If you are, clean it for the same reasons. Oh, wait, the reasons….

  • Debris in gas broken down in your tank (or pumped in) clogs fuel injectors.
  • Dirty fuel injectors do not provide the proper amount of fuel to your engine.
  • Your car does not run efficiently, giving you poor gas mileage.
  • Continued use of dirty fuel injectors causes damage and requires profe$$ional repair.

Even older cars will burn less gasoline when the injectors are clean.

Caught in the filter.

The fuel filter catches most the trash and water from your gasoline. If you are using a gasoline additive to help keep the tank and gas clean, the filter will fill up faster. Once it is full, the trash goes to your engine. When you clean the fuel injectors, change the fuel filter. Make a note to do this every 7,500 miles.

Example of an air filter that has been around ...

Image via Wikipedia

Gimme some air.

When the air filter on your car is full of pollen, dirt, dust and all manner of other debris, your car is choking. You need air to make fire in your pistons. You have to give it clean air or the junk turns into ashes. This loss of fuel economy results in profe$$ional repair.

Light my fire.


Image via Wikipedia

Spark plugs supply the…wait for it…spark to start the combustion in your engine. They need to have a specific gap to create the right length of spark to burn the gasoline. Most spark plugs are rated between 50,000 and 100,000 miles. Have you changed yours recently?

If you did, did you use properly-gapped OEM plugs? If you chose the “platinum plugs” the grease monkey at the parts store recommended, you got suckered. When you bought those “new and better performance” plugs, you sentenced your car to worse gas mileage.

Each engine is designed to run on a specific metal plug (like iridium). At the parts store, ask for OEM (Original Equipment from the Manufacturer) plugs.

Plug me in.

When you change the plugs, change the wires. Would you ever consider changing the oil and not the filter? Same rule applies to plugs and wires. The wires age and eventually stop carrying the electric charge which fires the plug.

Save the profe$$ional fee$.

Use some common sense preventative maintenance to save money by using less gasoline and warding off major repairs.


When was the last time you cleaned your fuel injectors
or changed your spark plugs and wires?


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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  1. James Parsons

     /  November 24, 2011

    These tips are great and they do work. Most of the time I will change my oil every 3,000 miles and my plugs and wires once a year every year. No matter if my vehicle needs it or not. Keep up the great work Red.

  2. I am faithful in changing my oil. Maintenance money is the best you can spend. It is an investment in your vehicle. Better to spend $100 on oil changes than $2,500 on a replacement engine. Red.

  3. bear

     /  November 25, 2011

    One of the best things to do is follow the maintenace schedule in the owner’s manual. There are some things to be aware of the schedules change is you use the vehicle in severe duty areas i.e. high heat areas, extreme cold, etc, it is worth a glance. Air cleaners hold them up to the light, if you can not see light through it, replace it even if the exterior look good. Keep it up RED…..

    • Good point about the extremes in temperatures. They affect the consistency length of life for oil…the blood of the car. Love the tip about seeing through the filter! Thanks, Bear! Red.

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