Fighting gas pricesWritten by Mark Moses | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The days of $1.50 per gallon fuel costs are reduced to stories for your grandkids. How do you save a few hard-earned dollars at the pump? The answer may be as simple as spending some time educating yourself and taking a pro-active approach.
First, let’s understand what you can do to improve your fuel mileage.
Even though the phrase “tune up” was coined in the day of the Model T when actual “tuning” was required, today’s high-tech vehicles require still require regimented maintenance. Replacing a dirty air filter could improve your fuel economy by as much as 10 percent, and today’s spark plugs can fire as many as 3 million times in just 1,000 miles. When was the last time you had them replaced? Check your owner’s manual and see what your car manufacturer suggests for service intervals. Here’s an important point: see what your manual suggests for “severe service” and what the term means. You may be surprised to know many people living in Northwest Ohio may need to adhere to “severe service” schedules due to our weather and local driving habits.
Did you know 147 million gallons of gas just disappear each year? According to the Car Care Council, we lose this much gas changing to vapor in the atmosphere annually because of missing, broken and loose vehicle gas caps. Today’s vehicles use a sealed fuel system and gasoline vapor is stored to burn in your engine. Seems like a simple thing to properly install your gas cap after refilling, but about 17 percent of the vehicles on the road have a problem in this area. It’s not good for the environment, either.
When was the last time you checked your tires for proper inflation? Under-inflated tires can rob you of one to two miles per gallon and also cause premature tire wear. The price of a $5 air gauge will pay you back tenfold.
How about your driving habits? Do you drive a bit aggressively? If so, you could be wasting as much as 30 percent of your fuel mileage with those jack-rabbit starts and simulated Autobahn maneuvers. Slow down, relax and save a few bucks. Try to drive the speed limit for once; just leave a couple of minutes early. Remember to use your cruise control on the highway for optimum mileage and regardless of what your Dad told you, your car will get much better mileage with the air conditioning on and the windows rolled up. It’s all about aerodynamics and drag.
If you have done everything you can to make sure your car is well-tuned and your driving habits are fuel-mileage friendly, but your gas card still requires a part-time job for support, it may be time to look for alternative transportation.
Today’s vehicle choices offer many alternatives with gasoline/electric hybrids leading the way for as much as double the fuel mileage of conventional gas-only engines. Many dealers have hybrid cars that offer great mileage and surprising performance.
Ever wonder what that FFV decal on your truck lid means? It may be time to get that manual out again.
Many other technologies are being developed that will offer other choices in a few years. Diesel hybrids, hydrogen, natural gas and electric vehicles may soon be commonplace on our highways. Flexible-fuel vehicles that can burn ethanol, fuel made from corn, have been built for years and are just now being used in the Toledo area. You may be driving one today.
OK, some of you still love an SUV but would like to make a responsible choice on your next purchase. The EPA has a Web page, the Green Vehicle Guide, to help you pick the vehicle with the best comparative fuel economy. It’s not just for SUVs; it covers most vehicles. Check it out at www.epa.gov/greenvehicles.
Mark Moses, who has been an ASE master technician for more than 28 years, is the owner of Moses Automotive and North Coast Motorcycle, both in the Toledo area. If you have a car or motorcycle question, e-mail him at Mark@MosesAutomotive.com.