Pain at the Pump

Top Five Ways to Avoid Pain at the Pump

    by Brett Ashley McKenzie
    Senior Writer, Chicago Association of REALTORS®

The price of a gallon of gas seems to climb higher every week. At press time, oil had set yet another record high of $141 per barrel. Not so long ago, summer meant thousands of Chicagoans filled up their tanks and headed out of town for weekend retreats in Michigan, Wisconsin, and beyond. Now, thanks to $4.20 per gallon gas prices in Chicago and fuel surcharges driving airfare through the roof, summer travel is putting the hurt on an already stressed economy.

Before you commit to spending the rest of your summer fighting for towel space on North Avenue Beach or meandering through hordes of tourists in the Loop, weigh these ten options to help you put your money where it belongs… right back into your pocket.

1. Invest in a Hybrid Car Just as this is a buyer’s market for real estate, this is a buyer’s market for the automobile industry, which is offering all sorts of incentives to move inventory. Trading in your gas guzzler for an energy-efficient Hybrid (a car that runs on both fuel and electricity) is both an economical and environmental decision. In addition to the money you’ll save on mileage, you’ll qualify for a state tax rebate of up to $1,000 on the makes and models listed below:


  • Ford Escape (2WD and 4WD)
  • Mercury Mariner (2WD and 4WD)
  • GMC Sierra (2WD and 4WD)
  • Chevy Silverado (2WD and 4WD)
  • Saturn Aura Greenline
  • Saturn Vue Greenline
  • Honda Insight CVT
  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Civic
  • Nissan Altima
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota Highlander (2WD and 4WD)
  • Lexus Rx400h (2WD and 4WD)
  • Toyota Camry
  • Lexus GS 450h
  • Mazda Tribute (2WD and 4WD)

For more information on Illinois’ “Green Rewards” program, contact (312) 814-1901, (217) 557-6436 or

2. Take a Chill Pill The impulse to speed past the vehicle that just cut you off could cost you more than a speeding ticket. Rapidly accelerating or slamming on your brakes can lower your fuel efficiency by 33% on highways and 5% elsewhere, according to Keeping your cool on Lake Shore Drive instead of alternating frantically between your brakes and gas pedal could save you some change.

3. Clean Out Your Trunk Storing your kids’ little league equipment or your golf clubs in your trunk all year-round? That extra load is decreasing your gas mileage, says the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Only store items in your trunk when you must; otherwise, limit storage to essentials like an ice scraper, umbrella, or jump cables. Plus, a nice, clean car is a big perk for you and your clients!

4. Care for Your Car You know the little sticker your Jiffy Lube attendant puts in your windshield to remind you when your next oil change appointment should be? Whether your owner’s manual suggests you change your oil every 3,000 miles or every 7,500 miles, try and stick to it. Some of the other services auto shops provide during an oil change (like checking your tire pressure and replacing air filters) are just as important to getting better mileage out of your car as changing your oil. According to, you can save up to 41 cents per gallon by replacing a clogged air filter. For 12 gallons of gas, that’s more than $5 in savings.

5. Look on the Bright Side? According to Time Magazine, there are some benefits to soaring gas prices. Globalized jobs returning home, reduced pollution, fewer traffic deaths, and even decreased obesity rank among Time’s “10 Good Things About $4 Gas.” Granted, Chicago passed the $4 mark months ago. But for those who like to find the silver lining, visit to learn more.

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