5 ways to save gas
Submitted by Barb Main, owner of J&J Automotive Services
Looking to put more money in your wallet and spend less at the pump? Following these five steps can help you more efficiently use the gas already in your tank.
1. Check your tire pressure
The importance of correct tire pressure cannot be overstated. One out of four tires being low by even a pound or two of air can easily add a large amount of drag to the vehicle and cause very poor fuel economy.
If you don’t know what the pressure should be, consult your owner’s manual. Many vehicles also have a sticker in the driver’s door jam that tells exact tire sizes and pressures for maximum efficiency. Most quality repair facilities will check your tire pressure for you and set it to the manufacturer’s specification.
2. Wheel alignment
Wheel alignment is often the simplest cause of poor fuel economy but also the most overlooked. It’s not something that can be seen with the naked eye unless it’s so bad that abnormal tire wear is present. Poor wheel alignment in the simplest terms means that all four of the wheels are not pointing in exactly the same place.
Many things can affect the alignment of the vehicle. A pothole in the road, bumping a curb or wear and tear to the steering and suspension systems all can have a substantial effect on alignment. Take your vehicle to a certified repair facility with a computerized alignment system. A simple alignment check can save you hundreds of dollars in fuel usage.
3. Keep up with scheduled maintenance
Dirty engine oil causes internal engine wear resulting in a loss of fuel economy. A dirty air filter can cause excessively rich fuel/air mixture and decrease your fuel economy up to two miles per gallon. Worn spark plugs can cause inefficient combustion, thus wasting fuel. A worn O2 sensor is unable to detect and adjust air/fuel mixture robbing up to three miles per gallon.
Over time, all these neglected items can add up to a substantial loss in fuel economy. The cost of maintenance is much less expensive than the cost of repairs and the embarrassment of a breakdown. A well maintained car carries the additional benefit of longer, trouble free operation as well as maximum fuel economy.
Did you know that an illuminated "check engine" or "service engine soon" light could be a sign that your car isn’t running as efficiently as possible and could have an impact on your fuel economy? Though the car may run fine, it’s burning 15 to 20 percent more fuel than it should.
4. Clean the fuel injection system
Over time, small particles and varnish build up inside the engine and fuel injection system. If left unchecked, they can hurt fuel economy severely. As an engine runs, carbon deposits build up on the intake valves, hurting performance and fuel economy.
If it’s been 30,000 miles since you’ve had your fuel injection system professionally cleaned, then it’s time to have this service done.
5. Lay off the lead
This is the most effective of these solutions and doesn’t cost anything. When accelerating hard from a stop, an engine burns a minimum of 50 percent more fuel than if accelerating gradually. Slow down on the accelerator to make a big difference in the cost of your daily drive.
Established in January 2002, J&J Automotive Services teaches clients how to avoid costly and potentially dangerous automotive breakdowns. J&J Automotive Services is the only independent automotive facility in Prince William County, Va., to receive the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence. We are the only certified female-friendly automotive facility in Manassas, Va.
As of July 25, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.