In my 20 years as an auto technician I have noticed some things that can help you save some money, and be safer on the road. The first thing that you need to do is check the air pressure in your tires. In my 20yrs as a technician, this is the most important thing you can do to save fuel and increase safety. I know that most of you think that they are checked when your vehicle is serviced,don’t be so sure. You can buy a tire gauge for a couple dollars at any auto parts store, or even Wal-Mart and such stores. It is as simple as removing the little cap on the valve stem (little black rubber stem sticking out of wheel) and pushing the open end of the gauge onto the valve stem. The gauge will tell you how much air pressure is in the tires. If you look in your owners manual, or on some vehicles it is on the door pillar, when you open the drivers door it will give you the correct amount of air pressure that should be in your tires. If your tires need air you can go to most gas stations or car washes and they will have coin operated units with gauges on them. I know that I am spending a lot of time on tires, but they are the most neglected part on vehicles and can dramatically effect fuel mileage. So while you are checking the air, look at the tread of the tires all the way across. Sometimes the outside edge of the tire(part you can see without leaning down and really looking) will look fine, but the inside edge will be bald. You should be able to take a penny, stick it into the grooves in the tire (with Lincoln going in headfirst) and not be able to see the top of Lincoln’s head. If you can see the top of his head you probably need tires, and may need an alignment (if the wear is not even across the tread). The other thing you should do is rotate your tires every 2 to 3 oil changes, this will dramatically increase the life of the tires.
The next most important item to check as far as fuel mileage is concerned is your air filter. It should be checked every time your vehicle is serviced, don’t be so sure of it. As a rule of thumb your air filter should be changed every 30,000 miles, but in some cases it may need one sooner. Most air filters are easily checked, but in some cases you may need a mechanic to check it.
Believe it or not changing your oil also affects your fuel mileage. Regular oil changes (with the correct weight of oil,10w30,5w30 and so on) are essential to the life of your vehicle. Using a heavier than suggested by manufacturer oil will reduce your fuel mileage.
If your vehicle has a “check engine” light on, this could greatly effect your fuel mileage. The “check engine” light is turned on by your cars computer when one of it’s sensors dealing with the emissions system is showing abnormal readings. Several of these sensors (such as oxygen sensors and MAF sensors) can really kill your fuel mileage. Some auto parts stores such as Auto Zone will read these codes for you, and can give you an idea of what is causing the light to be on. This way you will have a good idea of what to expect when you go to have it repaired if you can’t do it yourself.
Finally one of my biggest pet peeves, wiper blades. Although they do not effect fuel mileage they are one of the least expensive things you can replace on your car. But people will ride around with them completely shredded, and scratching their windshield. Hell if you buy them from Auto Zone, they will even install them for FREE. How these people don’t end up in car wrecks when it’s raining is a miracle.
Now that I am finished with that, I know that these few simple checks and repairs will help save you fuel and increase your safety.