Monday, April 9, 2012

Gas Prices and Car Care Month

The month of March 2012 posted some of the highest steady increases in gas prices throughout the Tampa Bay area and the country. Some analyst but mostly speculators are predicting the gas prices will hit $5 by summer. Why? Because of a number of factors the average consumer has very little control over starting with: 1) changes in crude oil prices based on worldwide consumption and regulated by Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel, 2) U.S. refinery imbalances which are not capable of the handling the increase in demand for gasoline consumption, and 3) seasonal changes and holidays where Americans demand more gasoline for travel like in the summer. A note to add: Retail gas prices are generally distributed 50% to the cost of crude oil, 20% to the cost of refining the crude oil, 20% to the taxes levied by local, state, and the federal government, and 10% to advertising by the gas companies.

Since we are smart enough to know we cannot control a cartel, I suggest controlling how we drive, where we drive, and more importantly what we drive. April is National Car Care Month! Sometimes, the culprit to increased fuel consumption is your old friend sitting in your garage or carport or under the tree. That’s right! Your car is wasting gas and causing you to spend more at the pump. However, I have to be fair to your car. You, as the owner, are the contributing factor to the ways your cars waste gasoline.

Years ago before I became an officer in the U.S. Army, I was a young, light-wheeled vehicle mechanic. Every morning before we would checkout a vehicle from the motor pool we had to perform PMCS on the vehicles. PMCS stands for Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services! PMCS ensured the vehicles were in top operating condition i.e. current oil changes, proper tire pressure, tire thread wear, zero fluid leaks, proper idling, proper coolant…we had a laundry list of things which had to be checked before the vehicle hit the road.

Let me ask, ‘when was the last time you looked under your hood, at your tires, or in your trunk before you hit the road?’ Is it fair to say never, unless you get a dashboard light indicating something is wrong? Compare it to your body! When nothing can satisfy your thirst but water, you are already dehydrated. When a dashboard light (satisfy your thirst) comes on in your vehicle, you already have a problem (dehydrated). Crazy analogy right or is it? You take care of your body to have longevity. Shouldn’t you do the same for your vehicles? I suggest taking your car to a local service ‘ASE Certified’ shop and requesting a PMCS during National Car Care Month. Many shops like the 16 Bay area locations of Ice Cold Air Discount Auto Repair offer ‘FREE INSPECTIONS’ to check out you ride and they are ASE Certified. Be sure to take this article with you to clarify what a PMCS is.

I would love to hear your feedback and your agreement or disagreement to my OPED. Feel free to write me at S.E. Day is the consumer finance expert/advocate of the Legally Steal radio show and host of the All Things Cars segment on WFLA’s syndicated Daytime show.

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