Summer is here which means more traveling for you and your whole family. Fuel efficiency is on our minds more when we are driving more. Most of us can't just dash out and buy a new, more economical car. Also, for many of us, a smaller economy car just does not meet the needs of our family or business.
In reality, replacing a good reliable car just to gain a few miles per gallon may not be the most economical or environmentally friendly move anyway.
Today I thought I would offer some tips that can help you get the most out of every gallon of gas for the vehicle you drive now.
Let's start with the basics like tire pressure, since low tires can rob you of several miles per gallon. For every 1-pound drop in pressure on all four tires, you increase your rolling resistance by 1.4 percent. Based on that, you can see how being down several pounds on air pressure can increase rolling resistance by quite a bit. Look on the door sticker of your vehicle for
... read more
Q: Hello Doug. Love your column every Sunday in the Daily Herald; it's helped me out a few times so thanks. I have a question regarding grades of gasoline. We travel to Iowa about 1-2 times a month. At one gas station, they sell gas with 10% ethanol and gas without ethanol. The price difference is 40 cents more for ethanol-free. Is there an advantage of using ethanol free as far as performance and mileage, assuming a car gets about 30 mpg? A: Thanks for the question. I don't know for sure if you would see a significant enough performance or mileage increase to offset the 40 cents per gallon. You may want to try it once and see if you notice any improvement. Today's cars tolerate the 10% ethanol fine; it is when you put the 15% or higher in where you could start having problems unless it is a flex fuel vehicle. I do not recommend using the E15 in your car or truck unless it is a flex fuel vehicle. Using fuel with 15% or higher ethanol could damage your vehicle and in fact
... read more
Q. I enjoy reading your column in the Daily Herald and have a question. You mentioned that letting the gas level get too low can result in damage to the fuel pump. My question is: How low is too low?
I usually don't let the level drop below one-eighth of a tank just to ensure that I don't run out. Is that a sufficient safety factor?
A. Thanks for reading the column and taking time to write. I love getting questions from drivers like you who are interested in taking good care of their cars.
You are probably OK at one-eighth of a tank but I would start thinking about getting gas when the gauge reads one-quarter tank; this way if you don't get to the gas station right away, there is a good chance you won't go below one-eighth. Additionally, if you get caught in a traffic jam and one-eighth of a tank is not enough, you could run out.
And don't wait until the next day; the price might go up like it did recently when I waited until it was
... read more
Q. If the manufacturer says a vehicle needs premium fuel, what happens if you use mid-grade or regular?
A. The car will run on regular, but it has been designed to run on the higher octane fuel. The simplest way to describe this is in order for it to run on regular gas, the computer will need to detune the engine a bit, sacrificing performance and fuel economy.
As a result, you will probably burn more fuel and gain nothing in cost savings -- and your car will not run optimally.
If your car calls for premium fuel, you should put premium fuel in it, and if your car does not call for premium fuel there is no advantage to you using it
Fuel economy, according to the Car Care Council, is directly related to vehicle care and driver behavior. Both can have a significant impact on how much motorists pay at the pump.
•Underinflated tires can impact the vehicle's fuel economy. When tires aren't inflated properly, it's similar to driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
•Dirty air filters also can waste gas and cause the engine to lose power. An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a "rich" mixture, which is too much gas being burned for the amount of air. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
•Worn or dirty spark plugs can cause misfiring, which wastes fuel. Vehicles can have four, six or eight spark plugs that fire as many as three million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion. Spark plugs t
... read more