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10 Tips For Better Gas Mileage
In Booth Tarkington’s 1918 book “The Magnificent Ambersons,” inventor and pioneer of the automobile industry, Eugene Morgan, stated that “At all speeds, (cars) are may be a backward step in civilization.” Little did anyone know, the Indianapolis, Indiana-born novelist may have anticipated America’s current oil crisis.
We love cars and depend on them in countless ways, from industry to family transportation to leisure time; However, the economic impact of rising greenhouse gas prices can be a setback for civilization. The American Automobile Association recently estimated that the number of motorists on the 2008 Memorial Day holiday will be nearly 360,000 fewer than last year’s total. The most obvious reason for this is the increase in the price of petrol.
However, our love/hate relationship with cars, trucks, RVs and motorcycles continues. This is despite the fact that the price of gasoline seems to reach the highest level every day. For those of us who need to squeeze as many MPG as possible out of our cars, here are 10 tips for maximizing gas mileage.
Make maintenance a priority –
1) Use the engine oil recommended by the vehicle. Most new passenger car and light truck engines require 5W-30 multi-gear oil. This lightweight oil provides protection by reducing friction which helps the engine run more efficiently, which equates to increased gas mileage. Older engines run better with 10W-30 or 10W-40. However, you should always check your owner’s or dealer’s manual to find out what type of oil is recommended for your engine. If you use 10W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-30 it will lower your MPG. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using regular gasoline (as well as synthetic blends if possible) can increase MPG by one to two percent or more, or at least $.04 to $.08 per gallon of gas.
2) Keep your tires in good condition. Tires that are properly inflated are safer and last longer. You can improve your mileage by 3.3 percent by maintaining proper tire pressure. That translates to about $.12 per gallon. Depending on the size of your tires and the load on the vehicle, the proper inflation can be anywhere from 32 to 60 PSI on average. Keep in mind that for every 1 PSI drop in tire pressure, your mileage drops by .4 percent. Because of their constant inflation and deflation rates, some sources advocate filling your tires with nitrogen instead of air, like car drivers do. The overall benefit for the average driver is currently debated, but in theory, the constant increase and decrease of nitrogen keeps the tires in good contact with the road. , increasing traction and therefore mileage.
3) Check and replace the air filter regularly. Keep dust and dirt from clogging your engine’s cylinders with a clean air filter. This allows them to operate more efficiently, which increases engine power and MPG. Replacing a clogged filter can improve gas mileage by 10 percent – up to $.41 per gallon.
4) Get Tune Up. If your car isn’t running smoothly or hasn’t passed the gas test recently, improve your mileage by up to four percent with a custom tune-up. For more serious problems such as a faulty oxygen sensor, repairs can improve MPG by 40 percent.
5) Use the correct fuel octane. The octane rating determines the speed of fuel in an internal combustion engine. The higher the octane, the longer the fuel will burn. A slow burn is generally more efficient than a fast burn, so on the face of it, high octane fuel appears to be the way to go. However, 92 octane is typically $.20 per gallon more expensive than standard 87 octane, and the benefits of higher octane do not offset the higher cost.
Go Green: Go High Tech –
6) Try the Hybrid. Hybrid electric vehicles are gaining momentum in our increasingly green society. Not only do they reduce emissions and reduce engine wear, but the fuel-saving features of hybrid engines allow them to get 20 to 30 more miles per gallon. There are also tax incentives for conversions.
7) Don’t fall for Gas Saving Gadgets. OK, change the list format to this. According to Popular Mechanicsnot only do gimmicks like copper pipes, magnets and other gadgets and unusual fuel additives show little or no improvement in your MPG, but most seem to hurt your fuel economy and power the car.
drive well –
8) Heard about Hypermilling and Ecodriving? These driving techniques all focus on some basic concepts. For example, coasting to a red light stops. Accelerate smoothly and smoothly. On highways, drive at or slightly below the speed limit. Look for new car fuel efficiency, not horsepower. Plan behind a larger car for aerodynamic benefits – like a NASCAR driver, but at a safer speed. Avoid excessive idleness. Use overdrive gear. Let off the gas and keep the brakes on when possible. Not only will these techniques improve your MPG by 30 percent or more, but you’ll be more relaxed while getting it.
9) Plan and combine your trip. Save fuel and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle by doing things like stagger your work hours to avoid peak travel times, telecommute if you can, and use carpooling and public. When running errands, try to multitask in one trip. Several short trips from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one long trip, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
10) Lose weight. No, I don’t necessarily mean you, but a little helps. An extra 100 pounds in your car can reduce your MPG by up to two percent, or $.04 to $.08 per gallon of gas. So don’t bring that jet ski, trailer or quarter-ton garden brick if you don’t plan to use them on that trip.
With these tips in your arsenal, you can make the most of your gas mileage and driving life, help save the environment and ease that pain in your pocket. As alternative fuels become more affordable for consumers, do the right thing and make the switch the first time. It will be a step for civilization.
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