The summer driving season is upon us and so are the related costs associated with taking the family across the country for vacation. One way to save a little money along the way is to insure that your vehicle is getting the best mileage possible under prevailing conditions. While the savings on a particular trip may not be tremendous, the savings could be substantial over time.
Fortunately, most modern vehicles take some of the guesswork out of the variables that affect gas mileage. For instance, on-board vehicle computers automatically compute tire pressure in all four tires making a physical pressure reading unnecessary. Additionally, the computers calculate instant gas mileage as the vehicle is being driven so no complicated math of gallons divided by miles driven is necessary. While the following tips may not make you rich, they will put a little extra change in your pocket in a time when gas prices are on the rise. These suggestions can result in small but significant fuel savings.
1. Make Sure the Engine is Properly Tuned
A properly tuned engine can account for as much as a 4.1 percent increase in gas mileage according to government studies. The most common tuning problem is a faulty oxygen sensor. Gasoline engines work by creating a combustible spark caused by the ignition of the gas in the cylinder. A proper amount of oxygen is required for the spark. The oxygen sensor in the vehicle regulates the amount of gas and oxygen necessary for optimal performance and reduction in pollution. If the oxygen sensor is malfunctioning it can decrease efficiency by up to forty percent. If the check engine light or oxygen sensor light illuminates, take the vehicle to the dealer for repair and you might just see a significant increase in miles per gallon.
2. Keep Tires Properly Inflated
Underinflated tires create unnecessary friction between the vehicle and the road, which reduces efficiency. Because the underinflated tires have more tire area contacting the road, friction is increased and the engine has to work harder to get the vehicle in motion. It is the same as when you were a kid and the tires on a bicycle were a little flat. The bike was harder to pedal and more energy was required to get the bike in motion. The vehicle’s onboard computer will alert the driver of significant pressure reduction and also give an accurate reading of tire pressure for each tire. If the vehicle does not have this function, use a manual pressure gage to check inflation. The proper inflation will be listed on the inside door jamb of the vehicle and in the owners manual. Properly inflating tires can improve miles per gallon by up to 3.3 percent
3. Use a Clean Air Filter and Change Oil as Recommended
An engine requires the proper amount of oxygen and gasoline to mix together to create a combustible spark for the engine to work properly. One of the items that regulate the oxygen/fuel mix is the air filter. If the filter is dirty, less oxygen will get into the system and the vehicle will run poorly and use more gas than necessary. A clogged air filter will reduce fuel economy by as much as 22 cents per gallon according to the Department of Energy. Likewise, motor oil should be changed as directed by the vehicle manufacturer. The proper viscosity should be used in conjunction with regular oil and filter changes. Like the air filter, dirty oil can reduce the efficiency of fuel consumption. Changing both the air filter and the oil will save a few cents per gallon.
In all, simple maintenance can add up over the long summer driving season. While the amount saved will not necessarily pay for the admission to Disney, it might pay for a snack or two while you are in the park. For more information on driving and maintenance tips, visit www.walkerwill.blogspot.com.