With gas prices creeping up and over $4 per gallon, it is becoming ever more important to squeeze every last mile out of each fill-up. There are several factors that go into your vehicle’s overall fuel economy that many people do not realize. Sometimes we put off that tune-up, we drive past our recommended oil change interval, and pay little attention to our tire pressure. Hopefully, we can shed some light on these important details to help stretch your budget a bit further.
KEEP YOUR VEHICLE TUNED UP
Tune-ups are by far the most important AND the most overlooked aspect to owning a vehicle. Today, most vehicles are scheduled to go 90,000 miles or more before their first scheduled tune-up. This is great news from a maintenance standpoint, but we sometimes forget to show our cars a little love once they reach that magic number. Furthermore, as we creep closer and closer to 100,000 miles we sometimes don’t even realize that our fuel economy has decreased. A vehicle that is out of tune can lose up to 2 miles per gallon! To put this in perspective, it can be costing you up to $10 per tank of gas to put off that tune-up. A basic tune-up on a newer vehicle can sometimes be as simple as replacing your spark plugs and can cost as little as $100.
CHECK YOUR TIRE PRESSURE
Your tires play an important role in overall vehicle efficiency. An under-inflated tire will make your vehicle work much harder to maintain speed. Picture trying to ride a bicycle with jelly doughnuts for tires. It wouldn’t be much fun, would it? The same concept applies to your vehicle’s tires. A typical passenger car tire should have 32psi, and a truck should have at least 35. In severe cases, an underinflated tire can affect fuel economy by 2-3 mpg. We recommend checking tire pressure visually at least once a week, and with a tire gauge at least once a month
CHANGE YOUR OIL REGULARLY
Always be aware of your car manufacturer’s recommended oil change interval. While some vehicles need an oil change every 3,000 miles, others are not due for 10,000 miles. In either case, these intervals are recommended for a specific reason. As you drive, your engine oil will collect all sorts of debris including gasoline, carbon, and other nasty materials. As the oil collects this gunk, its lubrication properties will slowly diminish. On a microscopic level, this will make your engine work harder and run less efficiently. This can result in a fuel economy decrease of up to 1/2 mpg.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO POP THE HOOD
Sometimes it’s easy to forget. We make a point to run through the car wash every Saturday morning, and we definitely don’t have a problem remembering to put gas in the tank. But why is it that so many engine compartments look like an undiscovered Egyptian tomb by the time they get opened? In Arizona’s dusty environment, it is very important to replace your engine air filter every 12,000-15,000 miles. A clogged air filter can decrease fuel economy by 1-2mpg, and can also make a noticeable difference in the way your vehicle runs. Most engine air filters are as low as $19.99, and if you don’t remember the last time you replaced it – It’s probably time!
Your owners manual should always be kept in your glove compartment and will set out guidelines for maintenance intervals. Become familiar with it and make sure to take care of your car, so it can better take care of you. It’s easy to forget an oil change, or just peel that annoying sticker off the windshield and turn the radio up. But remember, your car is only as reliable and efficient as you allow it to be. Preventative maintenance not only prevents costly repairs but increases fuel economy as well.