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Best Columns: Car math, Fuel-saving zeros
T
he new price of driving

“All you need to know about the car market” is this: “price matters, enormously,” says David Leonhardt in The New York Times. That’s why “Americans are changing their driving habits so quickly,” and why GM is shuttering four truck and SUV plants and talking of selling off Hummer. Americans “fell in love” with big pickups and SUVs in the 1990s, when, “in practical terms,” gas was actually “becoming cheaper,” effectively hitting a record low in 1999. We ran some numbers for today: buying a Ford F-250 truck, including five years of driving and insurance, now costs $100,000; a Ford Focus, “less than $40,000.” Most of us are finding that if we need to occasionally “move some horses,” we can “rent a truck.”

Fuel-saving schemes

High gas prices are also boosting the market for “fuel-saving gadgets for your car,” says Jonathan Welsh in The Wall Street Journal. Most of these devices—costing from $35 to $350—“don’t work,” according to the auto industry and federal experts. But that hasn’t stopped drivers from trying out fuel heaters, air injectors, and magnetic devices, and the manufacturers are standing by their products. The EPA says drivers would be better off using the “simple, proven methods” to increase fuel efficiency: avoid “rapid acceleration and hard braking,” drive slower, remove “excess weight” from the car, don’t idle, keep the engine in tune, and properly inflate tires. You’ll save gas, and money.

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