News Column

Learning To Pump Less, Save More

March 20, 2012

Johnny Kampis

Gas pump in car

Drive sensibly, give your vehicle a tuneup and keep your tires inflated.

Those are the top tips mechanics and automotive experts give for improving gas mileage.

The national average price per gallon of gasoline inched up again Monday, increasing to $3.84 -- the 10th straight day the cost has risen.

With no end in sight for the price increases, many drivers are trying to squeeze every mile out of each gallon.

Darrell Breeding, owner of Darrell's Auto Repair in Decatur, Ala., said he's surprised how many people bring cars into his shop with under inflated tires.

"A lot of people don't realize it and don't think about their tires," he said.

The U.S. Department of Energy said drivers can see a 3.3-percent boost in mileage by keeping tires inflated to the proper pressure. This also makes tires safer and last longer.

The proper pressure for each vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver's side door jamb or in the glove box. The owner's manual often has the information.

Clay Ingram, spokesman for AAA Alabama, recommends checking the tire pressure monthly.

Breeding suggests getting your auto a tuneup if it is noticeably out of tune.

The Energy Department said this can improve mileage by as much as 4 percent, depending on the seriousness of the repair.

Breeding said people will save a lot of money just by driving sensibly.

"A lot of people take off like who'd-a-thought-it and push it hard," he said.

Aggressive driving, which includes speeding and rapid acceleration and braking, can lower mileage by as much as 33 percent, according to the Energy Department.

Mileage decreases at speeds above 60 miles per hour for most vehicles. The Energy Department said each 5 mph one drives greater than 60 mph is like paying an additional 30 cents per gallon of gas at current prices.

Drivers can use cruise control to maintain a constant speed and save gas.

Other tips from the Energy Department: Remove excess weight, avoid long idling times, use the correct grade of motor oil and commute when possible.

The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to be wary of fuel additives that claim to improve mileage.

The Environmental Protection Agency tested dozens and found few provided benefits. Some even damaged engines or increased exhaust emissions, according to the FTC.

The average U.S. household is on track to spend more than $3,300 this year on gasoline for its vehicles, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that promotes energy efficiency.

Source: (c)2012 The Decatur Daily

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