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Car Care Tips
As heard on NPR
A Florida woman is putting her car in park after 576,000 miles. Rachel Veitch bought her Mercury Comet, new, in 1964. The car has been through 18 batteries and it's outlasted three marriages. Rachel even appeared on "The Tonight Show" with the vehicle. Now, her failing eyesight is forcing her to hang up her keys. She told Fox News she is not giving that car to her family, because they won't take care of it like she did.
Car Care Tips for Iowa City, IA as well as Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Tiffin, Riverside, West Branch, Cedar Rapids, Tipton, Oakdale and Williamsburg.
What grade of gas?
We are often asked what grade of fuel to use. For most cars on the road premium fuel is a waste of money. You will not see a difference in fuel economy or performance. If you drive a performance car the manufacturer may suggest the use of a high octane fuel.
As much as we would like to be able to recommend the use of fuel containing ethanol for the sake of the environment or cost savings we cannot.
While it seems that the price difference at the pump would make it advantageous to use fuel containing ethanol, the fact is that ethanol is actually less volatile (less explosive) than gasoline therefore you will get fewer miles to the gallon and actually end up spending more on gas.
In addition ethanol reacts negatively with some of the internal components of the fuel system and can actually cause damage and/or additional expense in fuel system repairs.
Many manufacturers are now making statements with regard to the use of fuel containing ethanol for the reasons mentioned and in fact may not honor warranties if the problem can be shown to be due to the use of ethanol containing fuel.
So we have to recommend that you not use ethanol containing fuel and that you just buy the lower grade regular fuel. It could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
How do I save on gas?
Quick starts from a stop sign or light uses a lot of gas. Coasting for a longer distance when approaching a stop sign or light can save a lot of gas. Driving the speed limit can also create significant fuel savings.
Use gas that does not contain ethanol
Unless your vehicle requires premium gasoline, filling up your car with high-octane gas is a waste of money. The premium gas doesn’t boost your gas mileage or performance. If you're not sure what grade works best for your vehicle, your owner's manual will tell you. You can also ask us what grade to use. Ethanol is less volatile than gasoline meaning that it does not burn as easily. So it takes more fuel to go the same distance. While you might save 10 cents per gallon at the pump you might lose 3 – 4 miles per gallon of driving. Using fuel that does not contain ethanol over high-octane gasoline could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Check your tire pressure once a week
Under inflated tires wear down more quickly, and they also lower your car's gas mileage. Your car's gas mileage may plummet by as much as 15 percent. Driving on under inflated tires may also reduce the life of your tires by 15 percent or more. Buy a digital gauge and keep it in your glove box. Compare the pressure in your tires with the recommended pressure listed in your owner's manual and on the placard located on the driver’s door or door jam. Then inflate your tires as needed. Be sure to check tire pressure when your tires are cold. A good time is early in the morning after your car's been idle overnight. However, be sure not to over inflate tires as that may compromise safety. You can also stop by the shop anytime and we will be happy to adjust your tire pressure.
Have your alignment checked once a year
Think about how many bumps you go over in a year. It is nearly impossible to avoid all the pot holes etc. out there on the road for an entire year. Worn or out of adjustment steering and suspension components can lead to your front wheels essentially snow plowing down the road. That causes significant rolling resistance which means reduced fuel economy. Taking care of any steering or suspension issues early can reduce the need for more costly repairs in the future and ensure your safety.
Don't skimp on maintenance
Your car's performance depends on it being properly maintained. For example a misfiring spark plug can reduce a car's fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Changing the engine oil and other fluids ensures that internal components are lubricated as well as possible to maintain their life and to reduce friction thereby improving fuel economy. The owner's manual of your vehicle will tell you what maintenance is needed and when. If you have any questions we will be able to show you the recommended maintenance for your car. Not only will it improve efficiency, it will also save you money on costly repairs in the long run.
Replace the air filters
When the engine air filter clogs with dirt, dust and bugs, it causes your engine to work harder and your car becomes less fuel efficient. Replacing a clogged air filter could improve your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and save you 15 cents a gallon. It's a good idea to have your engine air filter checked at each oil change. The Car Care Council recommends changing your car's air and oil filters every three months or 3,000 miles whichever comes first or as specified in your owner's manual. We always check the air filter replace the oil filter when changing the oil.
Switch to synthetic oil
Synthetic oil does a much better job of reducing friction and does not break down as fast as conventional oil from heat etc. You can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage by 2 to 4 percent by switching to synthetic oil. The price of a synthetic oil change is actually quite cost effective given the extended amount of time or number of miles you can go between oil changes (6 months or 7500 miles = 2 ½ times as long as conventional oil) plus they have the added convenience of not needing to take your vehicle in to a shop as often.
Air conditioning and defrost
Try to reduce the length of time that you use the air conditioner. I know that when it is really hot out it is just not feasible but using the air conditioner takes a lot of energy and negatively affects fuel economy. I should note that driving with all the windows open reduces a car’s aerodynamics and therefore reduces fuel economy to about the same degree as running the air conditioner so unfortunately that is not a solution. One thing that many people may not know is that when you use the defroster in the winter time it automatically turns on the air conditioning because it serves to dehumidify the air. So once the car is warmed up switch to a mode other than defrost when you can. That will reduce the load on the engine and save gas.
SPARE TIRE MAINTENANCE STEPS
First, make sure the mechanism that holds the spare in the truck or elsewhere works. Lubricate the bolt(s) or other mechanism that holds the spare in place. If you are not able to operate the mechanism(s) you may have to take it to a mechanic to have the parts serviced or replaced.
Second, remove the spare from the car.
Third, check the pressure in the tire with a tire gauge. If it is low take it somewhere to have it filled to the appropriate pressure (often 60 pounds per square inch).
Fourth, locate and remove the jack and tools often located near the spare (see owners manual). Familiarize yourself with how the jack and tools go together and how they work. Lubricate and operate the jack up and down a few times to make sure it works properly.
Fifth, put it all back in the car. There is often a diagram near the spare that shows how they go back in the car just in case you have forgotten. (I have before)