Fuel Economy Tips for Hybrids Cars

We’ve written plenty of blogs about fuel economy tips for ”regular” cars but this is our first for Hybrid cars. The fact is, many of the gas saving and maintenance tips that we’ve given for conventional automobiles will also apply to hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all electric vehicles (EVs) but below are a number of additional tips specifically for hybrids and EVs that will help you to keep these advanced vehicles running smoothly and using less fuel, whatever that fuel happens to be.

The first is simply to read the owner’s manual. Hybrid automobiles all vary a bit but they are significantly different in design then traditional automobiles, especially the way that they use and manage their energy. One type of hybrid might be significantly different from another as well, and some tips will work with one type that won’t work with another. The company that manufactured your hybrid vehicle will know how to operate it and maintain it in maximum fashion, so reading their owner’s manual is vitally important. It will help you to maximize not only fuel economy but also battery life and driving range as well.

Next is to always use the Economy Mode. Many hybrid vehicles come with an economy mode (or something similar) that will maximize your car’s fuel economy. In most vehicles this can be activated at the press of a button. Keep in mind that when using economy mode other features of your vehicle might decrease in performance, including its rate of acceleration, in order to save fuel.

Do your best to avoid hard braking. Just like with a traditional automobile, you should do your best to anticipate stops and then brake gently and moderately. Doing this will give your car’s regenerative braking system the time it needs to recover energy from  its forward motion and then store it in the batteries as electricity. If you brake too hard your conventional friction brakes will jump in to help and your car won’t recover any energy, or much less.

For EVs and plug-in hybrids, always keep the battery fully charged. Doing this ensures that you will use as much electricity as possible, and thus as little gasoline. This will not only save you gas but also save you money (natch) and, with EVs, it will help to maximize your cars driving range.

By the way, EVs and plug-in hybrids normally use lithium-ion batteries that don’t degrade if you “top them off” with electricity. This also won’t make it drain more quickly, so if it’s not fully charged you can always recharge your battery without any concern.

Finally, you’ll want to use your accessories wisely. Heating, the entertainment system and definitely air-conditioning will all affect the fuel economy of any vehicle but, on hybrids and electric cars, it has an even more noticeable effect. If you’re trying to maximize your fuel economy or the range of your electric car, you may want to preheat or pre-cool the cabin while your vehicle is still plugged in, something that will definitely extend its range.

We hope you enjoyed our first Fuel Economy Tip blog for hybrid and electric cars. We’re sure it won’t be the last, so check back in the future for more tips and advice.

Saving on Gas Money with a Hybrid

Everyone now a days is feeling the pain at the pump. It seems that even when consumers get a little relief from the high prices just weeks later the prices are back where they started and sometimes even higher. As consumers look for ways to fight back the appeal of electric and hybrid cars are gaining. If you have been considering purchasing a hybrid car to save your wallet at the gas pump here are a few things to consider.

Hybrid cars do get better gas mileage than traditional combustion gas engine cars. This is good news when it can cost almost $100 to full up a large vehicle. However, the monthly car payment on a hybrid can eat up your monthly gas savings. The technology used to create and design hybrid cars is still new and as a result the price tag of many hybrid cars is steeper than their traditional counterparts. But don’t let this discourage you. If you shop wisely you can still come out a winner.

When you go looking for your hybrid vehicle make sure you take into account the price of the vehicle and any tax credits you may qualify for when purchasing the car. This can help to offset the higher monthly payment you may need to pay. Also estimate how much your monthly fuel savings will be with the vehicle you are considering purchasing. This will help you to pick the best hybrid vehicle for you.

Once you have an idea of the costs and savings you can better estimate how long it will take you to actually start saving money with your new vehicle. The other benefit of a hybrid vehicle is that you get to save the planet as well as your wallet and the truth is you can’t really put price on that.

5 Great Reasons to Buy a Hybrid Car

If you would have looked for a hybrid car just a decade ago you wouldn’t have found a whole lot of choices or variety. Today however the hybrid car market is among the fastest growing automotive segments in the industry and has an annual  growth rate that many auto dealers are envious about.

The Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius are still the top 2 cars to beat in terms of overall sales and in fact make up over 50% of hybrid sales but other manufacturers are keen to go green (and reap the green profits) that hybrids represent. Even luxury car makers like Mercedes, Porsche and BMW are getting in the game and GMC and Chevrolet are joining in with hybrid versions of their Silverado and Sierra models. With all of these manufacturers bringing us new hybrids we figured the time was ripe to give the Top 5 Reasons to own one.  Enjoy!

1) Customer satisfaction.  Many consumers have, frankly, been turned off by the cost of a new hybrid but, once they have purchased one, they are among the most satisfied car owners on the road. Not only is their satisfaction high but the financial benefits of owning a hybrid are substantial, leading to even bigger smiles.

2) Lower fuel costs. This is a no-brainer. The Prius gets practically 50 miles to the gallon no matter the driving conditions. That’s amazing and one of the best reason to own a hybrid.  The average hybrid gets better than 40mpg and costs $1400.00 in fuel per year, a savings of hundred if not thousands of dollars. Hybrids also get better insurance rates, sometimes up to 10% less than their ‘regular’ counterparts.

3) Its good for the planet. Simply put, hybrids are green and green is good.  Driving a hybrid is now widely accepted and shows that you care about the earth as well as your wallet.

4) Hybrids get tax incentives.  Depending on the state where you live you could actually get a substantial tax break for buying a hybrid car, which is always a great reason to buy something in our book.

5) You get to use the HOV lane. Most states now allow hybrid cars to use the HOV lane for free,  even if there is only 1 person in the car. While this may not save a ton of money it is nice to be able to use the HOV and not be looking over your shoulder for the 5-0 the entire time.

So there you have it.  5 excellent reasons to buy a hybrid.  They’re here to stay and dropping in price (as gas keeps going higher) so why not take a look at 1 for your next new car?

So there you have it. 5 excellent reasons to buy an hybrid. There are here to stay and dropping in price (as gas keeps going higher) so why not take a look at 1 for your next new car? If the steadily dropping prices aren’t enough to convince you, then you might want to consider some car trade-in alternatives. After all, you probably won’t be going back to that gas guzzler once you experience the numerous benefits of a hybrid vehicle. There are tons of options out there when it comes to trade-ins. Even if you don’t need to sell your old car, there are a number of charities that will let you donate your car. Don’t let your old car take up space in the garage or driveway when it could otherwise be helping out children, animals, seniors, the environment and a number of other excellent causes.

The Financial Advantages of a Hybrid Auto

A hybrid vehicle uses both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. In the United States, hybrids became more popular in the United States upon the introduction of the second generation of the Toyota Prius. There were more than 2.5 million hybrid autos in the country as of October, 2012. It is now not at all uncommon to see hybrid cars, with motoring becoming downright jazzy as a result.

Hybrids cost more than regular autos – the hybrid premium – because the drive train that sends power from the engine to the wheels is more complicated and the battery is large and of high quality. The cost of drive trains will fall as technology progresses, however this will probably take more than 20 years.

The batteries of hybrids are covered by warranty for eight years or 100,000 miles. If a battery dies after a warranty has expired, the cost of replacement has fallen from $8,000 to $2,000.

Because they use less gas, hybrids are best-suited to high mileage drivers. As much as 90 percent less hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide is emitted. Some models use less gas than others, so it would be wise to check the ratings supplied by the EPA prior to making a purchase. The rising cost of gas makes this issue critical.

Hybrids’ regenerative braking systems produce less heat, so brake pads last longer. A spokesman for Toyota said that some Prius-driving customers have used brake pads for more than 85,000 miles. The gas engine shuts down when a hybrid is idling or traveling at a low speed, so engines experience less wear-and-tear. Oil changes are less frequent with smaller hybrids.

Research by insurance companies found that drivers of hybrids are less likely to be involved in accidents. Some insurers, such as Farmer Insurance and Travelers Insurance, have lower premiums, although some charge more. If the cost were higher, a hybrid owner should find another insurer.

Sometimes, the parking of hybrids is free. Hybrids receive a discount for the London Congestion Charge, leading to annual savings of as much as $3,200, a trend that could be adopted in the United States.

Hybrids purchased from 2006 to 2010 could receive a federal income tax credit of as much as $3,400. Credit amounts are phased out once a manufacturer has sold more than 60,000 vehicles, as Toyota did. Other incentives vary by state. Some states permit drivers of hybrids to use the carpool lane.

Although hybrid autos cost more than a regular car, a recent study found that a surprising number are cost-effective over time. The average 2012 hybrid vehicle costs $5,243 more than the gasoline-powered equivalent, but realizes $3,583 of savings on gas. Research by the automotive research company, Vincentric, of Bingham Farms, Mich., uncovered the fact that 11 of the 25 hybrids studied would cost less overall than a regular vehicle due to fuel consumption, taxes, fees, repairs, maintenance, insurance, financing, and depreciation.

Top 6 Tips When Buying a Fuel Efficient Car

Buying a fuel efficient car isn’t rocket surgery but there are a few things to consider before you buy one that can save you much more money over the life of the car and not just on your initial purchase price. The next 6 Tips will give you a lot to think about before you make this large, important purchase.

First you should consider what you need the car for. Is this a car to go back and forth to work with just you driving or is it for the family? How many people will be in it most of the time? If you get a car that’s much bigger than you really need you won’t save nearly as much gas as you could.

That being said, the right size and model is important. If you have 3 kids in high school a minivan is probably better than a sports car even though the sports car may get better mileage. On the other hand if you’re single and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon a smaller car may be your best bet and will save you a lot on gas.

Sports car or compact car?  Let’s be honest; if you’re young and impulsive a sports car may look ‘cool’ but it’s going to suck up gas like a kid sucks up candy and, in the end, who are you really trying to impress?

Do your research and check out the best mileage models. If you go online you can find out which cars in the type of model you want get the best mileage.  Unless you have other criteria the one with the lowest mpg number is your best bet.

A Hybrid vehicle is a viable option and important to consider.  What you may want to do is figure out approximately how many miles you drive each year and see if the higher cost of a hybrid is going to save you money over the length of the car’s life. Consumer Reports says that the average time to recoup the extra cost is 5 years.

Consider Diesel if possible but remember that you’ll pay more at the pump per gallon and the amount of extra miles that a diesel gets may not be worth the extra cost of the fuel itself.  If you don’t do excessive amounts of driving it may be worth it however.

If you use these 6 Tips wisely you will be able to make a better choice and save some real money in fuel over the life of your new car.

How the New Fuel Economy Standards Could Kill The Economy

I’ll be upfront with this, I don’t believe that the White House’s soon to be proposed higher fuel economy standards are going to kill the economy. I just don’t think it’s realistic. In fact, I tend to be on the other side of the argument and believe the new standards would create jobs, largely due to more people around the world 1) owning cars and 2) wanting more fuel efficient vehicles.

Just think, if America led the way in fuel efficient vehicle production, how in the world could that be a job killer?

In an article entitled “Obama’s Fuel Economy Standards Threaten the Economy,” Peter Roff of U.S. News states the proposed fuel economy standards would kill jobs and hurt the economy:

Thanks to Obama, the U.S. government now has three agencies–the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Air Resources Board–involved in the effort to improve through mandates the fuel economy of U.S. passenger vehicles.

Before 2009, when the current administration added EPA and CARB to the mix, the issue was more or less the sole province of NHTSA.

Why the change? Under the old rules Congress required NHTSA to consider what an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE standard would do to jobs and to the affordability and safety of vehicles in the U.S. passenger fleet. EPA and CARB are bound by no such rules; indeed CARB, as a state agency, is largely outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress–which is probably why EPA and CARB are the ones drafting the next round of fuel economy regulations.

Federal regulators at the EPA, working with their counterparts in Sacramento at CARB, are trying to get around Congress in an effort to mandate that the CAFE standard be bumped all the way up to 56 miles per gallon for model years 2017 to 2025, a move that is certain to batter the already teetering U.S. auto industry even further while making cars less safe and more expensive.

(If you’ll look at Roff’s bio, you’ll see he’s a contributor to Fox News, which may explain his slant on things.)

I don’t think Obama included the EPA and the CARB as a means of thwarting the EPA’s authority regarding fuel economy. If you look at Obama as a person, he’s much more of a collaborator, so it makes sense that he would bring these three like-minded agencies together in order to solve this problem.

Also, I would like proof that raising fuel economy standards over the next 15 years is going to “batter the already teetering U.S. auto industry.” As I stated before, I tend to think the improved fuel economy standards would do the opposite. Then again, what do I know, I’m just a blogger.

What do you think? Would the new fuel economy standards kill the economy and auto industry? Leave your thoughts below and, as always, please share this post using the social bookmarking buttons below – especially Facebook and Twitter!

Fuel Economy vs. Fuel Taxes – Which Will Do More?

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Which is better, higher fuel economy or higher fuel taxes? Image via Wikipedia

Here’s an interesting question: which is more likely to make you use less fuel, forcing you to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle or forcing you to pay a much, much higher fuel tax?

This is sort of a relevant question because there is news that the Obama administration is considering raising fuel economy standards for all cars and trucks sold in the U.S. to 56.2 miles per gallon by the year 2025:

The Obama administration is considering a fleetwide average of 56.2 miles per gallon for all new cars and trucks sold in the US by 2025, The Wall Street Journal reported late Saturday citing two people briefed on the matter said.

The proposal would roughly double current fuel-economy targets, and would likely raise the price of some cars by several thousand dollars.

Read more of this Fox News article by clicking here.

2025 is certainly a long way off, these new standards are certainly worth debating in the meantime.

While I think most of us would be willing to argue that reducing fuel consumption is certainly something we need to do, there are arguments that simply raising fuel economy standards isn’t the best way to go about it.

In an interesting article entitled Fuel Taxes vs Fuel Economy: Are Stricter Fuel Economy Standards a Good Idea? by Ed Dolan (published on OilPrice.com), it is argued that raising fuel economy standards tackles only a small portion of the problem:

The problem with higher CAFE standards is that they encourage fuel saving only with regard to the choice of what car to buy. Once a consumer buys a low-mileage vehicle, the cost of driving and extra mile goes down, thereby reducing the incentive for fuel-saving measures like moving closer to work, working at home, riding the bus to work, or consolidating errands.

The very fuel-saving strategies that CAFE standards discourage, like moving closer to work or consolidating errands, are often the ones that have the lowest costs. That is why the total cost of reaching a given national fuel-saving target will be greater when achieved through CAFE standards than when induced by an increase in fuel taxes.

If you’re a fan of economics, studies in spending habits, or just interested in the topic, I highly recommend you read the article in its entirety.

Anyway, in looking at this side of the argument, I think I would have to agree with Dolan.  Think about it, in order to get the biggest environmental bang for the buck you need to fundamentally change people’s driving habits.  You’re not going to do that by increasing fuel economy standards.  That’s painless.

The only way you’re really going to invoke substantial change is to cause pain, particularly pain in the wallet.  That’s why a dramatic increase in the fuel tax would mass a larger reduction in fuel usage and pollution than simply raising fuel economy standards.

Yes, I realize this is a so-called “regressive tax” meaning it affects the poor far more than the wealthy, but, as heartless as it sounds, I don’t think that should stop politicians from moving forward with a fuel tax increase.

What do you think?  Which is more apt to bring bigger changes?  Leave a comment below and be sure to spread the word using the social buttons below.

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Government to Allow Automakers Fuel Economy Loophole on Trucks and SUVs

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The White House is thinking of letting trucks and SUVs meet their own fuel economy standardsImage via Wikipedia

Remember way back when the Federal Government was pushing extremely hard and aggressive fuel efficiency standards on automakers? Environmentalists and consumers alike generally liked the new standards, and saw them as a big step forward.

Unfortunately, as is standard in Washington, there has been some reneging.

According to an article by Josh Mitchell and Sharon Terlep in the Wall Street Journal, White House officials are allowing auto makers to somewhat circumvent the fuel economy standards:

The White House is ready to let auto makers improve the future fuel efficiency of pickups and sport utility vehicles at a slower pace than passenger cars, say people familiar with the matter, a move that would benefit Detroit manufacturers.

Officials are scrambling to reach by early next week a broad agreement on a mileage target by 2025 of 56 miles a gallon, roughly double the current level. The concession is an effort by the White House to overcome broad opposition to the mileage figure by auto makers, including General Motors Co., which is still partially owned by the U.S.

While it may appear that the U.S. Government is doing automakers a favor, Roland Hwang, in an article entitled Light Truck Loophole Bad for Pickup Drivers, Oil Dependency and Pollution, says it may actually do automakers more harm than good:

While the U.S. automakers may complain that equal treatment for light trucks is bad for their profits, the opposite is true. By allowing big pickups and other light trucks to lag behind, the Detroit 3 run the risk of falling back into the bad habit that lead them to their downfall — becoming too dependent on fuel-inefficient vehicles.

Ford’s F-150 Ecoboost engine demonstrates that even big pickups can be more fuel efficient. The 40 percent purchase rate for the F-150 Ecoboost demonstrates that pickup buyers are willing to pay more to cut their gas bills. In fact, since light trucks generally lag behind the technology of their gasoline counterparts, these vehicles can improve at an even faster rate.

Equal treatment for light trucks makes sense. It will save truck driver thousands of dollars over the life of their trucks, cut our dependency on oil, and ensure the U.S. automakers don’t fall back into their bad habits.

I can definitely see both sides of the issue, however, I have to side with Hwang. I think it is best to hold automakers’ entire fleet accountable to the new fuel economy standards, not just vehicles that are more apt to meet the standards. Oil and gasoline are only going to get more expensive, so the less we can use the better, both in terms of the environment and our bank accounts.

What do you think? Leave your comments below!

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Tips on How to Select Used Cars

Cars are considered an essential assets to most people due to the benefits they offer. Most people would love to have new cars but due to different situations they cannot, in this case, used cars come to the rescue. There are quite a number of dealerships who sell used cars and therefore it is important for the buyer to check out as many as possible before selecting one.

Before selecting any car, it is essential for the client to look at some of the areas of the car. The buyer should first of all check the engine of the car for any conditions as this determines how the previous owner looked after it. Any sign of rust indicates that it was not well taken care of as well as any oil leakage would indicate the same. The oil should be clean and of the right amount as this would show that it is in good condition.

The buyer should also check out the tires and even below the car. Any tire that looks worn out is a no-no as this would show that either it is old or has covered a long mileage. Look under the car for any signs of rust and extreme wear and tear. Make a visual inspection of the tailpipe and have the car under go an emissions test as this would save the client a lot of money in repair expenses.

As any other car, used cars also need to be taken for a test drive. When doing this, the buyer should check the handling in the street and highway as well as the engine performance in terms of noise and body motion control. Check out the ease of operation of the steering and any vibrations. Also look out the brakes for parking, stopping gradually or suddenly and also the brake pedal pressure. Having checked all this, now it is time for negotiating the price.

12 Greenest Cars of 2010

Looks like even though we’re out of the 2000’s, we’re not going to be able to get away from the word “green.”

The American Council for Energy Efficient Economy has released their list of the 12 Greenest Cars of 2010. You can view pictures of each of the models listed below by clicking here.

For the sake of brevity, here’s the list of cars, as well as a breakdown of each model’s gas mileage:

1. Honda Civic GX – The cool thing about the Civic GX is that it runs on Natural gas, and gets an equivalent of 36 MPG highway
2. Toyota Prius – Most well known Hybrid on the road, gets 48 MPG highway, 51 MPG city
3. Honda Civic Hybrid – The hybrid version of one of the best selling cars in the U.S. gets 45 MPG highway, 40 MPG city
4. Smart ForTwo – Has tiny 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder engine which allows it to get 41 MPG highway (I’d be afraid to take this out on an interstate), 33 MPG city
5. Honda Insight – Honda’s equivalent of the Prius gets 43 MPG highway, 40 MPG city
6. Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan Hybrids – first American car on the list, and the Detroit Auto Show 2010 Car of the Year, gets 36 MPG highway, 41 MPG city
7. Toyota Yaris – Tiny and cheap, and gets 36 MPG highway, 29 MPG city
8. Nissan Altima Hybrid – Just another hybrid on the list. 33 MPG highway, 35 MPG city
9. Mini Cooper – Fun, zippy car gets 37 MPG highway, 28 MPG city
10. Chevy Cobalt XFE – Small, 2.2 liter, 4-cylinder engine gets 37 MPG highway, 25 MPG city
11. Hyundai Accent Blue – A new car under $10 grand that gets 36 MPG highway, 27 MPG city?
12. Honda Fit – 33 MPG highway, 27 MPG city. Really nothing much else to say.

So, if you’re in the market for a new car, be sure to check out all of the cars listed above!

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