Do the math before spending extra on a high-MPG vehicle

February 24, 2012 12:00 AM

Gas prices now average $3.59 per gallon, and many analysts believe that the price could rise above $4.00 per gallon again by the end of the year. That's causing many drivers to turn to fuel-efficient new cars in order to offset the price increases. But is this really worth it?

Kelley Blue Book points out that many consumers overreact to the price of gas. Consumers seem to flock to fuel-efficient vehicles, but the reality is that even a stark change in gas prices, like a full dollar, should only result in a moderate cost to consumers.

"Assuming the average consumer drives 12,000 miles per year in a vehicle that gets 20 mpg, an increase of $1.00 per gallon, from $3.60 to $4.60 per gallon as an example, would only result in an approximate increase of $11.50 per week in fuel expenses," said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book.

Gutierrez suggests that consumers make up the difference in other ways, like cutting back on eating out, rather than spending thousands more on a new car. Extra MPGs are always nice to have, but at best will save consumer a few hundred dollars per year.

It may make more economic sense for drivers to hold on to their current vehicle. Owners can get more life out of their car by staying on top of auto maintenance.

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