When you need to buy your next automobile make sure that fuel economy doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Buying a compact car with good gas mileage is both friendly to the environment and your pocket book. You will enjoy the savings throughout the life of the vehicle.

There is a lot to consider when buying a car. If you are buying a used car the condition of the clutch, brakes, engine and transmission will play a huge role in how much that car will cost to operate. Even minor problems can result in $300 repairs.

With new cars you need to find the make and model that has a proven track record and fits your needs. Make sure that fuel efficiency plays a role in your decision making. If you emerge from the car buying process with a fuel efficient car you will burn up less cash in your tank and have more money to spend on things that matter.

Take advantage of what is known.

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, the one thing you can easily and accurately predict is how much gas you are going to use. Gas prices may fluctuate but most people can spend a week or two logging their gas consumption and get a good idea of how many gallons they use. If you don’t already, track your gas consumption so you can use this information when purchasing a car.

Make it the #1 priority.

One way to make sure that fuel efficiency is considered is to start by looking at cars that get good gas mileage. Make it the #1 priority and see where that leads you. The problem with today’s car market is car manufacturers know that gas mileage is not a major consideration when purchasing a new vehicle for many U.S. customers.

Crunching the numbers.

When you are evaluating a car’s fuel efficiency, ask yourself how long you think you will be driving the car and determine how much gas will cost.

Let’s say you want to get a used car for $5,000 and hope to drive it for 5 years. Below are some 5 year gas cost estimates based on driving 15,000 miles per year and buying gas for $1.40 per gallon. If gasoline is more expensive than $1.40, the costs will be even higher.

A Sampling of Used Cars:

1994 Ford Explorer SUV (2WD)
5 year gas estimate = $5525

1994 Honda Accord Sedan
5 year gas estimate = $3885

1994 Honda Civic DX Sedan
5 year gas estimate = $2385

A Sampling of New Cars:

2004 Ford Explorer 2WD
5 year gas estimate = $6175

2004 Honda Accord
5 year gas estimate = $3750

2004 Honda Civic Hybrid
5 year gas estimate = $2235

2004 Toyota Prius Hybrid
5 year gas estimate = $1910

This is a small sampling of cars but you get the picture. Unless you really need an SUV or large truck, you can save a lot of money by buying a fuel efficient compact car. You will sacrifice size and sometimes luxury when choosing fuel economy first. Part of this is because bigger cars and trucks are heavier and will naturally get worse gas mileage. But it is also a function of consumers not worrying about gas mileage when they make a decision on purchasing a new or used car.

A great site for comparing cars fuel economy is www.fueleconomy.org. At www.fueleconomy.org you can compare numerous makes and models of both new and used cars and set the default gas costs to reflect the current prices. The numbers above are based on a $1.40 regular gas price which is really hard to find right now. In the case of the 1994 Ford Explorer you likely pay as much in gas over a 5 year span as you payed for the vehicle in the first place.

Put fuel economy first and you will find yourself with more money in your pocket.