Emergency Road Assistance: Stretching Your Gas Mileage

Summer is coming and warm weather makes a long drive in the country very attractive. You can make sure these spring road trips don’t impact your gas budget drastically by taking the necessary steps to insure that your vehicle is tuned up and at peak performance so that you can obtain your best gas mileage.

CarJunky.com provides the basics:

Cool It

While not directly related to your car’s maintenance, the air conditioner in your vehicle may work for or against you. Running the air constantly, at a high level, will likely affect your overall gas mileage performance. It takes energy to run the AC, which means that it takes more energy overall to move the vehicle from Point A to Point B. Consider not using the AC, or keeping it on a lower setting. However, also keep in mind that driving with the windows open can affect the aerodynamics of your vehicle, which also means more energy is needed to move the vehicle. Your car’s make and model will have some bearing on the best choice between AC or driving with the windows open. Either way, keep moderation in mind.

Check the Tires

Tires with low air pressure mean that there is more contact between tire and road, which means more friction. Lower tires also create more “give,” which means it takes more energy to start moving. Check your tires regularly to ensure they’re filled to the manufacturer’s recommended level. Also, if possible for your make of car, choose narrower tires, which mean less contact with road.

Lighten Up

The larger and heavier your vehicle, the more energy you need to move the vehicle. If it’s not possible to trade in a larger vehicle for a smaller one, you can control how much weight you carry around. Avoid storing heavy items in your vehicle. If something is not needed on a regular basis, remove it from your car.

If you drive a truck and live in a cold climate, remove sandbags (used to create extra weight and traction in winter months) during warmer months. If you move or purchase a heavy object, take it out of the car as soon as possible. Remove anything you don’t use on a daily basis, except for emergency items.

Tune Up

No, this isn’t about the music you listen to. Keep your car tuned up for maximum performance. Have your spark plugs checked regularly to ensure they’re tight fitting and clean, and that the wires are in good condition. Make sure the fuel injector is clean and operating properly.

Check the exhaust system regularly to make sure it’s clean and working (if your vehicle is running loudly, it may be past time to replace the exhaust). Also, check that your vehicle’s timing is correct, and that all filters are unclogged.

Fuel Up

Use the type of fuel recommended for your vehicle. While the sales pitch for higher-octane fuel is enticing, in many instances the price you pay for the fuel will not improve your car’s performance or your gas mileage. Also, be wary of fuel additives that claim to increase your mileage.

These products may not affect the performance as much as driving appropriately and keeping your car in good working condition. In other words, they’re not a substitute for other methods that will have a positive effect on your mileage.

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