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Ask Erin: How to get more miles from your car | Kitsap Week

Have a question? Ask Erin. - Richard Walker
Have a question? Ask Erin.
— image credit: Richard Walker

The last time I went to fill-up my car, I became light-headed. The cause wasn’t from the gas fumes, but rather from the price of a gallon of gas.

Gas prices are sky-rocketing. With oil prices hovering around $100 per barrel, experts warn that prices aren’t going to drop anytime soon. At the gas station near the Kitsap Week office, regular unleaded gas is listed at $3.599 a gallon.

After I got over the initial price shock, I took my foot off the gas and coasted into Silverdale Autoworks and asked for advice. How can I get more mileage from my car? Ken Manning, manager of the shop, offered these tips:

Ramp up your miles per gallon

Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned. If the tires aren’t aligned properly, your car will work harder to drive straight.

Keep up to date with your car’s service such as replacing spark plugs and air filters.

Use high quality fuel from trusted gas stations. Make sure and use the proper grade of fuel. Check your owner’s manual for the correct recommendation.

Think ahead and combine errands.

Don’t idle in the ferry line. Besides gassing out the driver behind you, idling gets a whopping zero miles per gallon.

You burn more gas idling for two minutes than you would if you turned off the car and started it two minutes later.

Check your trunk: heavy items in your cargo space can cause a drop in your miles per gallon.

Out of curiosity, I checked my trunk. I’m guilty of carrying around a 30-pound bag of dog food, some miscellaneous sporting equipment and two folding chairs. According to Tom and Ray Magliozzi, better known as the Car Talk brothers, each additional 100 pounds in your trunk reduces your fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent.

As I was filling up my tank and hyperventilating at the price, I spoke to the person on the other side of the pump.

He was filling up gas cans for landscape equipment. What did he think about the price of a gallon of fuel? He said it was costly, but he challenged me to think about how often folks are willing to buy bottled water, an item he believes is a complete waste.

He made me stop ranting and start thinking. What happens if common grocery store items are priced in gallons? It changed how I felt about $3.599 for a gallon of gasoline.

I headed to my local store to find out.

What a gallon of grocery costs:

Milk (nonorganic) = $3.19

A&W Rootbeer (2-liter bottle) = $3.39

Organic milk = $4.99

Diet Coke (12-pack) = $6.21

Gatorade (32-ounce bottle) = $6.36

Tropicana Orange Juice (89-ounce jug) = $7.30

Evian Spring Water (20-ounce bottle) = $9.44

Budweiser (6-pack) = $11.60

Starbucks Drip Coffee (16-ounces) = $15.60

Hmm. Maybe $3.599 for a gallon of gas isn’t so bad. Thankfully my car runs on regular unleaded and not French Roast or Breakfast Blend.

With prices rising and the economy still in a slump, what do you to keep afloat? Send me your ideas and I will share them with readers.

Reader Update

A couple of weeks ago, Ask Erin discussed ways to keep squirrels from turning your bird feeders into buffets.

Reader Henry Christensen wrote to say he has successfully foiled the bushy- tailed rodents by wrapping the feeder poles in PVC pipe. After many attempts, he found that squirrels cannot grasp PVC pipe greater than a four-inch diameter. Christensen said the pole holding the feeder should also be over five feet tall.

Thanks for sharing!

­— Ask Erin is a feature of Kitsap Week. Have a question? Write Ask Erin, Kitsap Week, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo 98370 or e-mail ejennings@northkitsapherald.com. Questions can range from advice to practical issues.

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