Orinda Auto Repair

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Preparing Your Vehicle for All Seasons

gas-mileage-bluesIt is very easy to notice that filling your vehicle with gas costs more these days. Every time I turn around I need to put gas in my guzzler. It made me think of ways that I could be saving fuel and getting more miles out of each tank. I could commute with one of my co-workers. I could get dropped off and walk part of the way. The rest of the time I need to get behind the wheel. Coming from my auto service background I have to start with what I know about basic automotive efficiency. I know that the number one cause of poor fuel mileage on a car is low tire pressure. The rolling resistance of a tire is crucial to good gas mileage. I checked the tire pressures on my Ford Explorer and found that they were all low. Wow, imagine that. When I inspected my tires I noticed that my front tires were wearing down unevenly on the outside edge indicating that I had a wheel alignment problem. When the wheel alignment is out of spec the tires are literally pointing in the wrong direction causing friction that also hurts the rolling resistance. It also wears down your tires faster costing you more money. I promptly rotated and balanced the tires then had a wheel alignment service performed at my favorite oil change and tire center. I had the oil changed because it was also due. An efficient engine with good oil is likely to obtain better fuel mileage. I also know that it is important to keep on top of the factory recommended maintenance. All of the details are in the owner’s manual in the glove box. The air filter was still good and I had just changed the spark plugs about 15,000 before. My owner’s manual says that the interval for changing 100,000 mile, ok. I had just replaced my shocks so I know I have proper ride control. I had to remind myself how important these things are to achieving peak fuel mileage. I also pay attention to a check engine light that is trying to tell you that one of your computer controlled engine management components is failing and should not be ignored. Tire pressure warning lights should not be ignored obviously

The next important step was to test was my driving style vehicle aerodynamics. It comes to reason that if you drive like you are on the racetrack you will consume more fuel. I really think some folks driving on San Pablo Dam Road think they are on a racetrack. Aggressive driving uses more fuel! A smooth easy start and conservative throttle will consume less fuel. The term “jack rabbit start” is what you want to avoid. You also want to avoid extended idling periods. You will average zero miles to the gallon when sitting still. Ok stop letting the truck just sit there running while I am getting coffee, check. Roof racks, bike racks etc. will upset the aerodynamics of your vehicle which will hurt your gas mileage. Any unused gear stored in the car should be removed to eliminate any additional weight.

I guess it comes down to an active decision to be part of the solution like I did. Make a commitment to being on top of your vehicle’s maintenance and repairs with an emphasis on tire pressures. Also make an effort to drive more efficiently and make your vehicle is as aerodynamic as it can be. I am always available to answer any questions about your vehicle.

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