A message showed up in my inbox that made my heart sink. I couldn’t help imagine what it would be like to lend my car to someone, only to have it come back to me with a little something I’d not counted on—that noxious odor of gasoline!

Worse, what if that condition were permanent?! Thankfully, I have good news for at least one desperate reader.

Portable generator in back of car

 

I have a problem that I can’t solve and was wondering if you would be able to help.  Someone borrowed my car recently and transported a small generator in it.  Somehow, the gasoline spilled out inside my Explorer and left a very intense gasoline smell.

“I have tried everything I can think of and nothing has removed the smell.  I steamed cleaned it with carpet shampoo, sprinkled it with baking soda and vacuum it up, saturated it with Nok-Out at least three times but to no avail. Can you help? Lisa

My first reaction to Lisa’s dilemma was to wonder if this “someone” was at one time on her list of friends (relatives?) but I won’t go there. Instead, I do have a solution and one that does not involve pushing that SUV off a cliff. It’s long, so bear with me.

This is definitely a job for Nok-Out—an odor-eliminating product that is non-toxic, fragrance-free and absolutely works wonders to eliminate the strong odor of gasoline providing it is used specifically and scientificallyRead more

Only a few months ago I paid $1.75 a gallon for gas in Thornton, Colo. That’s nearly a dollar cheaper than I paid this past week at the same location—$2.72 per gallon! What’s going on?

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AAA  blames the increase partially on a drop in fuel supply from oil refineries. As a reulst, experts say prices are likely to keep climbing this summer, so drivers will have to be strategic to manage their fuel costs.

To save a gallon of gas, you need to cut about 22 miles of driving from your week. Here are 10 easy ways to do that:

1. Hop on the bus, Gus

Even if you think this is not an option for you, check out PublicTransportation.org. You may be surprised by all the options that you have never considered. Or carpool. Leaving the car at home and sharing your commute occasionally can help you reach your gallon-goal quickly. Sharing the ride—and expense—with another person regularly can cut your gas costs in half. Check out your carpooling opportunities at the eRide Share app, eRideShare.com.

2. Take it easy

The faster you drive, the more gas you use. If your average commute includes 20 miles of highway time and you drive it at 60 mph instead of 70 mph, it will take you only three minutes longer to get there, and you’ll save approximately 1.3 gallons of gas in a five-day work week.

3. Trip-chain

Need to pick up a prescription, mail a package and go to the bank? Instead of spreading these tasks out over a few trips, chain them together by doing all of them at one time. Park in a central spot and walk from place to place. Read more

When I pulled out my AAA membership card to get a discount for Universal Hollywood tickets, I locked eyeballs with “Years as Member: 43” printed on the card. I nearly passed out.

That seemed absolutely impossible until I did a little mental calculation. It’s true. AAA has been an important part of my life for more than four decades.

If you are a member of AAA, it’s likely that you depend on it to get you out of an automotive bind with a roadside jumpstart, a gallon of gas or a tow.

And so you know, they also come to the rescue should you ever lock your keys in the car. Or a sleeping baby. Let’s just say that AAA has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

 

Sleeping baby in carseat

AAA membership has so many other benefits that just roadside assistance—some I’ve taken advantage of in the past, but many others I didn’t even know about.

If you’re a member, perhaps you’ll be surprised too by all of the hidden benefits in your membership.

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Wouldn’t you think that if car manufacturers can perfect self-driving cars, they could also come up with a way to conquer the car trash problem?

Inside of a car with every nook and cranny stuffed with trash

Photo Credit TheOnion.com

I’ve always thought that a built-in trash compactor would be great. Or even better, some kind of incinerator that sucks the accumulation of trash and garbage right out of the car and into a holding tank somewhere that magically converts it into purified drinking water. Or gasoline.

While waiting for that kind of invention to appear, I’ve tried plastic bags, plastic tubs, and every kind of frugal trick and tip you can imagine to handle the annoyance of car trash.

I’ve tested and tried. Some ideas are better than others, but nothing has ever proven 100% satisfactory. Until now.  

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Let’s say that tomorrow morning you wake up to discover that overnight—gulp!—your car was destroyed beyond repair. You’re not covered and you’re devastated.

You can’t live without a car. But you have no money—not a nickel in savings. So what do you do? If you’re like most people in that situation, you head to the only dealer in town who’s offering $0 down financing and a monthly payment that somehow you’ll figure out how to afford.

Salesman handing over the keys to the car of your dreams

Realistically, what payment can you afford if you pull the plug on cable TV, stop eating out, and basically cut out all frivolous spending? $200? $300 $600? 

Okay, back to reality. Your car isn’t destroyed, and you’ll keep driving it for a while. But remember the amount you said you believe you could afford each month if you really put your mind to it? Let’s say it’s $300. Keep reading. 

RELATED: How to Eliminate Odor of Gasoline Spilled Inside Family Vehicle

The Bank of You

Open a savings account somewhere convenient and begin immediately to make $300 monthly payments into that savings account. Just as if you were in that terrible scenario mentioned above. Every month. Make the sacrifices now, cut the spending now. Be strict with yourself—rigid and unbending! No late payments, no slacking. 

In the meantime, and as you are making these big new payments to yourself, continue driving the car you have now for at least one more year, even if it is a real clunker. You can endure anything for a short time when you have a plan for it to end.

Soon, you will begin earning interest —Ally.com currently 2.20% APY—on the growing balance instead of paying interest on a conventional auto loan. 

At the end of one year—12 payments to yourself—you will have accumulated $3,600 cash plus interest. Not bad! 

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Some time ago, I wrote about simple things you can do to get better gas mileage, which means and less time and money spent at the gas pump.

One of those tips was to make sure your car’s tires are always properly inflated because underinflated tires cause the engine to work harder than necessary, which wastes fuel, while overinflation causes tires to wear prematurely.

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I went on to tell you how to discover the psi (pounds per square inch) inflation recommended for your tires. And with that, I kinda’ started a firestorm!

My email box fairly sizzled with responses from readers who were not happy—some demanding an immediate retraction, others insisting I was putting the lives of my readers in serious danger due to exploding tires.

The problem? I told you to discover the proper psi by looking for that information on the tires themselves.

“You’re wrong!” informed a few readers, many of them citing their qualifications as authorities on tires and proper inflation.

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I love my overflowing inbox filled with questions from my dear readers. What I don’t love is not being able to respond personally to each and every one!

So today, rather than trying to decide which ones to answer, how about I just reach in and let’s see what comes out.

multi-ethinic arms outstretched to ask questions.

Upside Down in a Durango

Dear Mary: I have a Dodge Durango gas guzzler and I owe way too much money on it. If I sell the vehicle outright, I could probably squeak by ending up just $5,000 in the hole. If I trade it in, I would be about $9,000 in the hole.  

I could put the shortfall on a credit card, but I know that is a bad idea for so many reasons. What should I do to pay the difference?

We have an old pick-up truck and an older Subaru that will be okay for now, but how do I get out of the loan and the Durango? And how can I sell it to someone when I don’t have a clear title? Any help will be appreciated. Linda

Dear Linda: There’s no perfect solution here, but here’s a plan that might work: 

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Do you know what I love? Learning insider secrets. I’m not talking tabloid headlines or conspiracy theories, which I work hard to avoid—but solid, authentic, and reliable insider trade secrets.

I’ve got one for you today, prompted by a question sent in by a faithful reader.

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I recently purchased a late-model, previously owned vehicle. The dealer tried to sell me a package where they treat the leather seats. Because of the cost, I opted not to purchase the package. My question is, do you know the type of treatment that car dealers use to treat leather seats? Is it even necessary to do this? The car is an expensive purchase for me and I need to know how to take good care of the interior to make it last.Thank you for your very enjoyable column. I read it from top to bottom and always learn or find something I can use daily. Jan G. Read more