Wednesday, April 8, 2009

10 Bad Driving Habits You Should Pick Up Now That Gas Is Cheap Again

Author: Nick
Category: Money

After several years of almost unexplainable rate hikes, one after another, the price of oil has finally settled to previous levels, and sub-two-dollar gasoline has returned. Of course, even as I type that sentence, I can hear the gas station attendants down the road getting out their reachy sticks and starting to hang up those number twos again. Indeed, thanks to factors like violence in the Middle East, the price of gas may very soon be on the rise.

Can we expect to be paying three or four dollars a gallon to fill up our cars again soon? Only time will tell, but I suspect that time is the only thing standing between us and a return to ridiculously high gas prices. The rise wasn’t so bad the first time around—people started driving smarter, combining trips, and helping to stretch their mileage as best as possible. But because everyone has gotten used to these gas-saving techniques, they’ve been reluctant to give them up. After all, carpooling and accelerating gently aren’t that hard to do, and they still save drivers money even when gas is only $1.80 a gallon.

But what will happen if and when gas spikes back up to $4.00 a gallon? If everyone is already doing all they can to conserve gas, there won’t be any room to scrimp and save once those historic highs return? That’s why, if you don’t want to feel completely hopeless later, you should return to the old ways of driving now. What do I mean by that? Well, starting immediately, you should re-incorporate the following into your daily driving habits:

  1. Jackrabbit starts. If you bought a new 30+ MPG car recently in response to rising fuel prices, you’re going to want to do your best to knock that down to under 20 MPG now so you can revel in the savings of 30 MPG again later. The best way to do this is to apply maximum acceleration from all starting positions whenever possible, so-called “jackrabbit starts.” You’ll burn through three times as much gas just to get to the next red light five seconds sooner!
  2. Speed limit inflation. It sounds much better than “speeding” (it sounds more legal and official too!), and it’ll help you shave precious pints off your gas gallon. You’ll see the best MPG drop when you do over 65 MPH on the highway… or in your favorite school zone!
  3. Carpools are for wusses. Even if you and your three next-door neighbors work in the same office building, insist on driving to work alone. In fact, consider tying the steering wheels of your two cars together and driving them both to work each day.
  4. Warm up your car in the morning. It’s 6:30am in the middle of a harsh winter, and you leave for work in 30 minutes. Run outside in your pajamas, start the car, and crank up the heat as high as possible. You’ll burn through a gallon or two of gas by 7am, and your ride to work will be at a balmy 115 degrees.
  5. Manual drivers—first gear is your friend. If you drive a stick, now’s a great time to pretend you don’t! Leave your car in first all the time and burn through gas 40% faster than your lame friends who insist on shifting into second and higher.
  6. Windows open, and lots of hood ornaments. Disrupt the efficiency of your car’s aerodynamic shape by always driving with the windows open. Tack on hood ornaments to every spare inch of your cars surface to increase wind resistance and lower your mileage even more!
  7. Store crap in the trunk. Cancel your paid storage space now and shove all that useless crap in the back of your car. You’ll not only save money now not having to pay for the storage space, but you’ll lose that money right away with the lower MPG that extra weight will give you.
  8. Take your car in for a misalignment. Find the dumbest mechanic in your town and ask him to align your wheels. Assuming your car still goes straight afterward, you’ll cut miles of your gallon in no time.
  9. Forget the milk. Whenever possible, leave one item off your grocery list so you have to go back to get it on a separate trip later. Double the pleasure, double the mileage!
  10. And for the hardcore gas guzzlers… travel in reverse whenever possible and watch your gas mileage hit rock bottom.

Then, once the price of gas jumps back up, you’ll be able to pull back on these bad driving habits and feel like you’re saving money. This way, while your friends and neighbors are contemplating trading in their cars for good walking shoes, you’ll be squeezing pennies off the gallon and riding the highway to savings all by yourself.