The gas gauge is headed down to “E” — again — and unleaded regular fuel has left the $3.00 milepost well behind.
It’s time to think about ways to stave off a case of pump panic. The basics are repeated every time gas prices rise, but here are mine. If you think you’ve heard them before, you probably have; if you think you’ve already been implementing them, you probably are, too.
1. Check prices. It cost us $3.75 for premium near UConn in Storrs, Conn., last weekend. North Shore prices in Mass. generally were pushing $3.30 a gallon this week. It’s time to hit Boston.com's gas price tracker again.
2. Got a heavy foot? I was driving a Dodge Durango the other day. Heading to my destination, a 30-mile trip, the onboard computer said I averaged 15.6 miles per gallon. Coming home, I tried feathering the gas pedal, keeping the “Eco” sign lighted, and set cruise control to 62 mph on I-95. The result: 16.4 mpg. That’s only a 4.9 percent improvement. Disappointing, but a start. I’d hoped to do better.
3. Find alternatives. Our son recently moved to Somerville, tired of traffic and long commutes. Instead of taking an hour and 45 minutes — it seemed to be the same whether he took commuter rail, the bus, or a combination of driving and the T — his trip went down to 25 minutes, door to desk. I’m not generally an “early adopter” of new technology, but it’s time to take a hard look at a hybrid or diesel for my next car. The motorcycle that’s soon to come out of storage isn’t a great alternative: It gets about 42 mpg. I enjoy bicycling, too, but I’m not ready to be one of those “winter warriors.”
4. Maintenance. This is another common tip. I recently picked up a Ryobi home air compressor that makes it easy to even off tire pressures once a month. It goes without saying that if your “check engine” light is on, your front end is out of alignment, or the engine isn’t running smoothly or at the proper temperature, you’re likely using extra fuel, too.
5. Cut down on trips. This is the easiest to recommend, but often hardest to do. Instead of “running out” to do errands, plan one circuit to accomplish all trips in one outing.
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About Boston Overdrive
|Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
|Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
|John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
|Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
|Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
|George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee