Summer is here and with it come the familiar commutes in hotter weather, along with a more relaxing time spent in the car on the inevitable road trips and summer joy rides. Unfortunately the price of gas isn’t on the side of the summer consumer: compared to last July 4th, the current national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline at $3.57 (according to the latest reports from AAA Fuel Gauge Report, June 24, 2013 and Newsday), is 9 cents more.
At these prices it can cost some car owners $50, $60, even $80 to fill a tank of gas, a hefty chunk out of the summer vacation budget. Our experts are offering some great tips to help car owners increase fuel efficiency and save money at the pump – all it takes are some simple fixes to your car and a few driving habit tweaks to take advantage of summerizing your car.
AutoPartsWarehouse.com’s Top Five Easiest Mechanical Fixes for a Fuel-Efficient Drive
- Replace/Tighten Your Gas Cap – Fuel evaporates through gas caps with broken or weak seals, potentially reducing your efficiency by 2 percent, polluting the air and allowing contaminants and dirt into your fuel. Make sure you keep that seal by thoroughly tightening the cap every time you fill up. And if the seal is bad, you will probably need to replace the entire cap. Usually a check engine light will come on if the seal is broken.
- Inflate/Change Your Tires –The media had a bit of fun with this one in the 2008 presidential campaign, but the fact is that having your tires properly inflated is a key gas saver! Tires that are not properly inflated have a higher rolling resistance, which reduces efficiency. By keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent. By replacing your tires with efficient ‘low rolling resistance’ tires, individual vehicles could save up to 6 percent of gasoline use.
- Change Your Oil –It is always good to make sure you are vigilant about keeping to your manufacturer’s suggested oil change schedule, but did you know that there are specific oil types that can increase efficiency?By using only energy conserving or synthetic motor oil, you can reduce engine friction, improving efficiency by 1 – 2 percent.
- Replace Spark Plugs –This is a relatively simple, but important, fix either as a DIY project or by your local repair shop, who usually replace spark plugs as part of the 30k, 60k, or 100k service depending on the vehicle. A check engine light should come on when there is a misfire, indicating a spark plug issue. Misfiring spark plugs can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent, or $.75/gallon. Replacing them improves combustion and reduces emissions.
- Replace the Engine Air Filter –Clean air in your engine can help clean air outside by improving gas efficiency and reducing the amount of gas you need to burn! Replacing a clogged air filter on an older car with a carbureted engine may improve fuel economy 2 to 6 percent under normal replacement conditions, or up to 14 percent if the filter is so clogged that it significantly affects drivability. A damaged air filter can allow dirt to enter the engine and increase wear. And, while the engine air filter is usually replaced during service every 15K miles, it could be replaced sooner if you drive in dusty conditions.
AutoPartsWarehouse.com’s Top Five Habits-to-Change for a Fuel-Efficient Drive
- Cruise Don’t Speed – Of course avoiding speeding tickets is always advantageous, but speeding is also a gas guzzler, as each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. Kicking into cruise control (on flat terrain) smoothes out throttling, keeping your speed steady and fuel-efficient. Skip cruise control on hills, but keep the speed down.
- Lighten the Lead Foot – Avoiding a lead foot is another important way to increase fuel efficiency. Rapid acceleration and constant braking can increase fuel burn by as much as 40 percent, and makes toxic emissions five times higher. Acceleration also burns up a significant amount of energy needed to power your vehicle, so drop the heavy foot, and slow down while braking, which will reduce your fuel burn and improve your gas mileage.
- Avoid Idling – Did you know that two minutes of idling uses up one mile of gasoline, and ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it? Idling not only adds to pollution, it wastes money at the gas station.
- Remove Excess Weight –Though this is a popular topic at the gym, extra weight slows our cars down too. In fact, an extra 100 pounds in your auto can reduce fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent.
- Turn on the Ventilator/Turn off the A/C/Roll up the Windows – Summer heat drives the best of us to throw reason out the window, but something to consider for those hot summer drives, turn off your A/C and roll down the windows when driving around the neighborhood and in city traffic.:Do exactly the opposite on the highways because driving fast with the windows open can burn more fuel than running the A/C.