It’s simple – maintain your vehicle.
Sounds obvious, right? Still, there are a lot of people out there who think that an oil change and some maintenance on their car is a rip-off dreamt up by the manufacturer.
Case in point – I currently drive a late 70s Jeep CJ7 as my winter beater. I broke a couple of rules during its purchase (mainly, I overpaid for it, grrr) but I really, really wanted one and thought this one was a good vehicle. Apart from it wasn’t and it needed work. Not exactly saving money yet, are we?
Over the summer I spent some time going over the Jeep to at least address the glaring issues and, surprise surprise, I found more of them. Oops. Fortunately I’ve been playing with cars for a good quarter century by now and even though I have this rule about not messing with my daily driver unless it’s really simple stuff like an oil change and other maintenance, I did have the time to work on this truck.
After overhauling the vacuum system and adjusting both the ignition and the carburetor, the mileage increase from somewhere around 9mpg (US) to 12-13 mpg (US). OK, that’s still horrible for a smog choked late 70s vehicle that makes between 80 and 90 horsepower at the wheels on a good day, but at the end of the day I improved the gas mileage by almost 30%. Given that I spent approximately $20 on parts – mainly vacuum hoses – and a whole bunch of my own time, that was a good payback. Of course if you had to pay someone to do the work, it would probably not be cost effective, but as a side effect it runs better, too.