A basic understanding of how your automobile works can help save you a lot of money and spare you a lot of frustration down the road. Here are some diagrams of the primary systems involved with your vehicle.
Tune-ups and Regular Maintenance Check-ups
One of the best ways to gain fuel economy is to get regular tune-ups. This will help improve gas mileage as well as ensure the maximum performance of your vehicle. Your maintenance schedule can be found in your owner’s manual. Worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid or the transmission going into high gear can all reduce fuel economy.
Proper Tire Pressure
When tires aren’t inflated properly it’s like driving with the parking brake on, wasting a mile or two per gallon. Proper air pressure varies for each vehicle, so check your owner’s manual to find the right amount for yours. (Source: www.aaa.com)
Proper Wheel Alignment
Keeping your wheels properly aligned will not only help your vehicle get more even tire wear, but it will also help your vehicle achieve better fuel economy. Don’t confuse wheel alignment with wheel balancing. Both are important maintenance items, but are different procedures.
Proper Wheel Balance
Balancing your wheels means having them checked to ensure even weight distribution on each wheel’s axle. This procedure prolongs the life of your wheels and axles, and keeps car vibrations to a minimum.
Avoid Idling Your Vehicle
If you expect to be stopped in your vehicle for an extended period of time, turn the engine off. Consider going into an establishment instead of using the drive-through. Limit the amount of time you spend warming up your vehicle in the winter.
Check your owner’s manual for the correct octane level for your vehicle’s engine. Twenty percent of drivers purchase premium fuel when filling up at the pump, but less than 5% of cars on the road have engines designed for high octane fuel. If your engine was not made to take premium fuel, then pumping it into your tank is only putting you at a loss. (Source: www.aaa.com)
Follow Motor Oil Grade Recommendations
Using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil can improve your gas mileage by 1.2%. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1.2%. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1 – 1.5%. (Source: www.fueleconomy.org) Don’t forget to check your fuel cap. Make sure it’s undamaged and secure. Missing or problematic caps are responsible for 147 million gallons of gas vaporizing annually. (Source: www.carcare.org)
Rid the Trunk of Your Junk
Gas mileage decreases as extra weight is added. Remove items you don’t use daily to make your vehicle more fuel-efficient. Improving your vehicle’s aerodynamics will help lower your fuel cost. Take down any unused bike, ski or cargo racks from your roof. Washing and waxing your vehicle and rolling up the windows will also help improve aerodynamics.
Enjoy the Breeze
Use your air conditioning only when necessary. The A/C utilizes your vehicle’s motor, eating into your gas savings. However, this tip might not be reasonable year-round: Forgoing air conditioning in the south on a sweltering day certainly isn’t practical.
Parking your vehicle in the shade and venting your windows a little when you park will help to keep it cool when you get in. When driving at lower speeds, enjoy the breeze or open the air vents to keep your car comfortable. Once you reach highway speed, roll up your windows to improve your aerodynamics and set the A/C to a reasonable level. (Source: Consumer Federation of America)