PART 2 - Tips 5 thru 7
8. Maintenance and tune-ups: Regular maintenance as prescribed by the vehicle owner's manual will help your vehicle achieve its best fuel economy and improve mileage by up to 4%. Some overlooked Maintenance tips:
- Use the correct oil: You can stretch your gas mileage by 1%-2% by using the thinnest viscosity grade of motor oil recommended by the car manufacturer. Example: Dumping 10W-30 motor oil in an engine that is designed to use 5W-30 can lessen your gas mileage by 1%-2%. In addition, use "Energy Conserving” motor oil containing friction-reducing additives.
- Keep tires inflated and aligned: It's estimated that properly inflated tires can save the average car owner 3.3% with each tank of gas. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 PSI drop in pressure of all four tires and wear out faster. When replacing your tires, replace them with the same make and model as the tires that were on your vehicle when it was new. In addition, poor alignment can cause tires to wear out quickly and force your engine to work harder. Align your tires, and save up to 10% or 20 cents per gallon.
- Check spark plugs: Two worn-out spark plugs can cost 20% or more of your fuel economy
- Check the oxygen filter: If your car has a faulty oxygen sensor it can cause you to lose up to 40% of fuel efficiency.
- Check Air filter: Tests show replacing a clogged air filter on cars with fuel-injected, computer-controlled gasoline engines (cars made from early 1980s and upward) does not improve fuel economy, but it can improve acceleration time by around 6% to 11%. However, tests suggest that replacing a clogged air filter on older model cars with carbureted engines may improve fuel economy 2% to 6% under normal replacement conditions.
- Change fuel filter: Clean fuel is essential for a long engine life. So replace your fuel filter once a year or no more than 30,000 miles. If the filter plugs up it can starve an engine of fuel and if it fails it can release debris into injectors, causing expensive repairs. Also, a restricted filter will stress the electric fuel pump, leading to early failure.
- Check brakes: Gas mileage can be affected by brake drag. Brake drag occurs when the lining is in constant contact with the rotor or drum and gas mileage suffers (metal to metal). Repair ASAP, not to get the best gas mileage, but for your own safety.
9. Fill it up and other gas filling tips:
- Don't top off: Over-filling the gas tank causes charcoal evaporation emissions canister to saturate. This part can cost $100 to replace. Stop fueling at first click of pump nozzle.
- Fill up your gas tank in the morning on weekdays:
A. Gas stations tend to change their prices between 10 a.m. and noon, so head to the pump early in the morning if gas prices are on the rise. However, if prices are falling, go later in the day.
B. In addition, weekends and holidays often see slightly higher fuel prices, so if you can fill up mid-week, you may save more.
C. Since gas expands when heated and contracts when cooled fill up your tank before heat expands it (especially during the summer). Currently, there are several theories as to why filling up in the morning does or doesn't work. As for my own experience, when I fill up in the morning I get 25 extra (freeway) miles or more out of my tank. Will it work for you? To find out, keep track of your mileage with a gas log book.
June 13 / Time filled: 7 am / 18 gal. / Miles: 368
June 23 / Time filled: 5 pm / 18 gal. / Miles: 326
- Tighten the gas cap: To tighten, twist gas cap until it clicks three times. However, if you constantly smell gas in the vicinity of the gas tank, you may need a new gas cap. If the cap is loose or defective, gas vapor will constantly leak out and you'll waste gas. Also, if the cap is faulty it can cause your oxygen sensor to read incorrectly and tell the engine management computer to adjust the fuel-air mix and you'll end up burning more gas than needed.
- Fuel injected cars: Keep the gas tank at least full enough to supply fuel for the electric pump, which depends on a steady supply of fuel to lubricate its inner parts. Running your car low on fuel causes the pump to wear out, especially when cornering.
- Stop fuel lines from freezing: Keep the gas tank 1/4 full and add isopropyl alcohol (commercial additive) to the gas tank when filling up before and during especially cold weather.
- Car storage: Keep the gas tank full to limit the amount of water condensation in the gas tank when storing a vehicle. If car will be stored for more than a month, add a gas preservative.
10. Save gas while driving:
- Avoid idling: A cold engine on today's modern cars should be warmed up by idling no more than 30-35 seconds. An idling engine eats up to 1/2 gallon of gas per hour and gets 0 mpg.
- Drive 55 mph: All vehicles gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 65 instead of 75 mph reduces fuel cost 13%. Driving 55 would save 25%.
- Drive efficiently and take your time getting there: Save up to 20% by driving the speed limit. Avoid aggressive driving, rapid acceleration, speeding and braking that can lower gas mileage by 33% on highway and by 5% driving in town. Other tips:
A. Listen to radio reports to use alternative routes to bypass traffic congestion
B. Drive in the highest gear possible without lugging the engine
C. Try to keep your speed constant. Use cruise control when on long stretches of road
- When is the best time to use your AC? City driving uses up to 3 miles per gallon when using AC, but if you drive at a constant speed on a highway, AC use doesn’t matter.
- Lighten your load: Don’t carry needless gear and luggage in your car. Gasoline mpg decreases 1%-2% for every extra 100 lbs of weight or conversely, save 3 cents per 100 lbs removed.
- Don't be a drag! Keep car aerodynamic: Remove accessories, spoilers, etc., or repair body damage, crunched front fender, etc., that can alter a car's aerodynamics and reduce gas mileage by up to 8% (ask any race driver). In addition, refrain from driving with an open sunroof or windows at high speeds. Also, using a loaded roof rack creates wind resistance and can increase fuel consumption by up to 5% (better to pack items inside the car).
11. Other gas saving tips and ideas:
- Use other forms of transportation: If you share a ride to work with a friend or co-worker(s), you will cost-effectively double your fuel economy. Check with your city or state to see if it has a "Rideshare" program. Other transportation options: Instead of driving use bus transits, bicycle, walk or catch a ride from friends, etc., to get to your destination of choice.
- Fuel Economy for Cars: Fuel economy information for 2010 and 2011 cars, trucks, SUVs and vans is available to assist consumers in purchasing fuel efficient new vehicles. When purchasing, consider the most fuel efficient vehicle and save up to 50%. For more information, visit: www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/FEG2000.htm
- Gas Mileage Impact Calculator: This calculator offers information correlating to gas consumption, fuel cost and emission of major pollutants. For more information, visit: www.hybridcars.com/calculator
- Gasoline-Saving Devices: The U.S. EPA and FTC have both stated that there are no devices, currently on the market, that helps boost gas mileage any appreciable amount. Buyer beware!
Sources: Department of Energy, California Consumer Energy Center, Consumer Federation of America, Nerd Wallet, ALLDATA, EPA and Oakridge National Laboratory
Be sure to check out other articles from Jeff Burch on the Trans World Assurance Blog.