With high Calgary fuel prices and hard economic times comes lots of gas saving advice. Some of it, like what you hear on AutoNetTV.com, is really great. Some is myth. And some is just designed to prey on Calgary drivers desperate to improve fuel economy and save some bucks.
When you get one of those e-mails that’s going around AB telling you how to save gas in Calgary, try to think it through. Does it really make sense? Does it defy the laws of physics? Do some research on the internet or ask your helpful Heritage Auto & Tire service specialist.
There aren’t any magic pills you can drop in your gas tank and the government hasn’t suppressed a device you can clamp on your fuel line to make your car run on air.
But a couple of facts to leave you with that aren’t myth are:
1. Better air flow means more efficient combustion translates to better fuel economy. So changing your air filter will actually help your fuel consumption. When you come in for your regular oil changes, changing the filters as recommended will help your gas economy.
2. Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Under-inflated tires burn more fuel. If tires are 8 pounds under inflated, (not an uncommon condition), rolling resistance of the tires increases by 5 per cent.
3. Believe it or not driving habits matter. If you’re a little too heavy on the gas peddle and accelerate too quickly off the start – this will affect your fuel consumption. Think ahead! Drive smoothly. By applying light throttle and avoiding heavy braking, you can reduce both fuel consumption and wear and tear. Research suggests driving techniques can influence fuel efficiency by as much as 30 per cent.
When appropriate, use your cruise control. This can save you up to 6 per cent in fuel consumption on the highway. Driving in the highest gear possible without labouring the engine is a fuel-efficient way of driving. Driving at 60 km/h, a vehicle will use 25 per cent more fuel in third gear than it would in fifth. Traveling at fast rates in low gears can consume up to 45 per cent more fuel than is needed. If you have an onboard trip computer, you probably have an “Instant fuel economy” setting. Watch this gauge and keep the litres per 100 kilometres as low as you can.
4. Have a regular engine check-up. Since the advent of computer controlled fuel injection, there is no such thing as an old fashioned “tune-up” any more. At worst, you may be expected to replace spark plugs, oxygen sensor, the air and fuel filters.
If your car was built since the mid-1980s, chances are it has an oxygen sensor in its exhaust system. It should be replaced just as you would spark plugs, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. This little device trims the fuel delivery and has a profound effect on fuel economy in the process.
5. Avoid “revving” the engine, especially just before you switch the engine off; this wastes fuel needlessly and washes oil down from inside the cylinder walls. This is really bad thing for the next start up, as the cylinder walls will be dry.
6. Do not rest your left foot on the brake pedal while driving. Ok, you are thinking “This is a no brainer”. But you would be shocked just how many people do it that don’t even know they are doing it. The slightest pressure puts “mechanical drag” on components, wearing them down prematurely. This “dragging” also demands additional fuel usage to overcome the drag.
7. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for misalignment. Bent wheels, axles, worn shocks, and broken springs can contribute to drive train drag, not to mention the unsafe condition they create.
8. Corroded battery cables cause the alternator to work harder, using more gas. Have them cleaned as a matter of course with each engine check-up.
So next time you get one of those e-mails, check it out with the team of automotive professionals at Heritage Auto & Tire in Calgary. You’ll get more bang for your buck with a full-service oil change at Heritage Auto & Tire or an engine air filter replacement.