Thursday, April 27, 2006

Getting The Most Out of Your Tank of Gas?

They said on the local news today that gas in Rochester, N.Y. crept up over $ 3.00, but I did see it for 2.999. The point is, are you getting your money's worth from that costly gas? Here's a crash course on auto maintenance for the complete idiot.

1. Tire pressure: check it at least once a week now, with an accurate tire gauge;
They're not expensive. If you are at the gas station, remove all
the valve stem covers to save time on the air machine. Most cars
have a label on one of the inside door pillars depicting the
proper pressure. Untangle the air hose first,then take your read-
ings. Next, deposit the change to start the machine, and pump up
whichever tires need air. They say that 1 PSI makes a big
difference in the gas mileage.

2.Check all fluids: Foremost, check the oil. Check it with the engine cold, if
possible. Most dip sticks are marked. Learn where they are on
your engine. Most small engines do not hold a lot of oil to start
with, so don't let it run too low. Change it at regular intervals
too; Big difference in performance and longevity.

The transmission fluid is checked on an automatic, with the engine
warm, and running. All dip sticks have a Min to Max indication.
The fluid should look clean and not black, but reddish. They have
funnels with long necks to get down in the fill hole, which is the
same hole you removed the dip stick. Pull it out, and wipe it
clean. Study the levels marked on the stick. My Volvo has
marks on each side of the stick to read at different operating
temps. I advise having the engine warmed up to normal temp. If
low on the stick, only add a little at a time, and re-check,
until the level looks up there. Unless you have a leak, it
should not take much (unless it has not been checked for a long

The coolant level: Most cars have a plastic bottle with the level
marks on the side, allowing quick visual check without opening
anything. Learn where that is, and don't get it mixed up with the
windshield washing solution fill. Check that too, while your at

Power steering fluid. The power steering unit is mounted on the
side or front of engines, and always belt driven. Most newer
cars have only one long serpetine belt that drives all the
appliances,such as power steering, alternater, water pump. The
Power Steering pump will be the only belt driven unit that has a
cap to remove. Its almost always marked. Under the cap, you'll
find a small dip stick, again, with max-min. marks.

Check the filters: The air filter clogged up will give you reduced gas mileage.
Change it at least twice a year, or more if you are driving
lots of back dusty roads. The gas filter should be changed yearly
but may be more than the average driver can handle.

Tune the car up: Have the car tuned on a regular basis to keep it peppy.

Driving Habits: We "lead-footed" Americans are jack rabbits at the green light, and
try to pass everything in our path. We all need to be aware of
the way to keep that gas in the tank longer. Pretend there is an
egg under your accelerater foot. Use only enough pressure to get
the car moving fast enough to change the transmission into the
higher gear. When you drive in the highest transmission gear,
the engine is turning at its lowest RPM's. (revolutions per minute)
I try to keep my car at 2,000 RPMs most of the time. Each time you
pull out to pass a car, you usually kick the transmission out of
the highest gear to give the engine more power for passing. In
other words, the lower gear the transmission is in, the faster
the engine is turning. The lower the engine RPMs, the better the
gas mileage. When you observe a red light ahead, take your foot
off the gas pedal and coast to the light. If you're lucky, the
light will change to green by the time you get there, and you wont
need to come to a complete stop. In most cases, passing is not
gaining you anything. I notice folks passing me at break-neck
speeds, and a while later, I'll pull up right behind them at a
light. They gained nothing by passing me, except to burn more
gas just to get one more stupid car length ahead of me! Almost no
time saved, and lots of extra gas burned.

Consider higher octane gas: My Volvo has the small four cylinder engine, designed
for 91 octane gas. If I put high octane gas in, even at 20 cents
per gallon more, the car has more power, and goes farther on
that tank full. In my case the extra $ 2-3 bucks for the
higher octane, takes me much farther, absorbing the extra cost
So change your driving habits, and keep your car running smooth, and you will see
a difference! A little bit of thought about multitasking your car usage will save
you miles of driving. Above all: DRIVE SAFE OUT THERE!

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