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Fuel Saving Tips
A customer once asked us if we could fix his Ford Expedition
so it would get 35 mpg. We told him that we were not God, and he
should get a smaller car! That having been said, there are many
things you can do to maximize the mileage you get in whatever
vehicle you drive. You have likely heard much of this elsewhere
but take a look. You might find something new.
In our experience, driving style and conditions have the
biggest influence on fuel economy. Here is the basic rule to
think about when trying to maximize fuel economy while driving:
avoid using your brakes! Every time you step on the brake
pedal, energy that was produced by burning fuel is wasted
in the form of heat energy. Your brakes stop your car by
converting the kinetic energy of its motion into heat energy,
which simply wafts up into the atmosphere.
Leave more space between you and the car in front
especially on the freeway. If you have more space, you can avoid
using the brakes, slow your car down less, and thus have to burn
less fuel to get back up to speed. Plus you are way less likely
to hit somebody or be hit by somebody if you are slowing down
Watch your speed. We have a customer that regularly
drives the same long distance route each weekend. He has found
that if he slows down from 75 mph to 65 mph he gains 3 mpg. If
he slows to just under 60 mph he gains 7 mpg! You may have seen
this guy out on the road. Please be patient -- he's just trying
to save a buck. He assures us he's not doing 60 mpg in the fast
Keep your tires fully inflated. We're not talking about
the pressure that is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer but
rather the pressure indicated on the sidewall of the tire
itself. It is not uncommon to find the vehicle specification for
tire pressure to be significantly lower than the pressure
indicated on the tire. If you run your tires at the pressure
indicated on the tire they will run cooler, have less rolling
resistance, last longer, and your vehicle will get better
mileage. Just think about how much energy you have to put in to
riding a bicycle with a low tire.
You should check your tires when they are as cool as
possible. The pressure inside the tire goes up with heat. Be
warned however, adjusting your tires to this higher pressure may
give you a noticeably rougher ride and DO NOT EVER INFLATE
YOUR TIRES TO A PRESSURE HIGHER THAN WHAT IS INDICATED ON THE
Speaking of tire inflation, you may have been given the
opportunity to pay some extra money to have your tires inflated
with nitrogen. Our opinion is that this is a waste of money. It
is true that nitrogen inflated tires do not experience as much
temperature-related pressure change, but an increase in pressure
of one or two psi will make no difference unless you are
traveling at 198 mph at Talladega Super Speedway. Remember that
the "free air" we use here at Jacoby Auto Electronic & Service contains roughly
78.08% nitrogen already.
Maintain your vehicle at least as often as the
manufacturer recommends. Doing the service at the suggested
interval will help you get the best mileage possible. A dirty
air filter, worn out spark plugs, engine valves out of
adjustment, or a sluggish oxygen sensor will decrease your fuel
Pick Up truck owners: it is commonly thought that driving
with your tailgate down reduces drag and saves gas. We're not
sure if this is true, however this theory was tested on the
Discovery Channel program called "Mythbusters." Their experiments
concluded that the exact opposite is true: you get better
mileage with the tailgate up!
What about all those additives and gadgets marketed to
improve fuel economy? In our experience, most of it is hogwash.
Save your money and buy your spouse some flowers. You'll get way
more mileage out of that.
Don't drive around with your "Check
Engine" Light on. This light is telling you something is
wrong and you could be wasting a lot of fuel.
Everyone knows that driving with your A/C on uses more
gas. Not everyone may know that when you set your A/C controls
to defrost your front windshield, your A/C comes on in most
vehicles. This is because in addition to cooling the air, your
A/C also dehumidifies the air. The clear water you often see
dripping out of your vehicle when the A/C has been on is
moisture that has been condensed out of the air. If you only run
your defroster when the windows are fogged up and remember to
turn it off after they have cleared, you will save fuel.
Avoid idling whenever possible. When the engine is on and
the car is not moving you are getting 0 mpg. It is true that
when you start your engine, the fuel injection spits a bit more
fuel in than normal but these days the extra fuel required for
start up is minimal. If it is going to idle for more than a
minute, shut it off.
Your car does not need to "warm up" before you drive it.
When the engine is cold it is burning more fuel than just about
any other time. Modern fuel injected cars are designed to be
driven immediately after start up. Our advice is to start it up
and go. If you are concerned about warming up your engine, just
drive gently for the first few minutes. If your car has to be
warmed up before it will run right, something is wrong with it.
Call us and make an appointment.
Don't waste your money buying high octane fuel. We have
been told that lower octane fuel actually burns more
efficiently. Unless your owner's manual states that a specific
octane level must be used to preserve the warranty, or
you hear your engine pinging or knocking, buy the lowest octane
fuel you can find.
Ethanol: many people are driving around in vehicles
designed to be run on regular gas or E85 ethanol and
don't even know it. We don't know if using E85 will save you any
money, but it will cut down the use of traditional gasoline.
Make sure your vehicle is designed to run on E85 before using
it. It shouldn't be too much of a problem, however, because as
far as we've been able to determine there are only four E85
filling stations in California.
Shed the extra pounds: extra cargo that you don't need in
your car wastes gas. Empty your trunk of those golf clubs, the 6
cases of bottled water you bought at Costco, dead bodies and the
like, and you will save gas.
"What a drag!" If you have one of those handy cargo
carriers attached to the top of your vehicle, take it off if
possible when you don't need it. The aerodynamic drag it creates
is costing you money.