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Car Care Tips

10 Ways To Save Gas (and Money)!!!

The cost of gas continues to rise and from the looks of things, it's not slowing down anytime soon. To help get the most bang for your transportation buck, we've collected 10 tips to help you save gas and money.

1. Brake correctly
Cars use the most gas when they accelerate. While this may seem obvious, in somewhat heavy traffic this can mean burning through a lot of gas. It's fairly easy to maintain a speed in a long line of cars without using your brakes-instead, pay attention to the cars in front you and anticipate when to slightly ease of the gas. This will keep you from losing momentum when you hit the brakes. In heavy traffic, this will result in 10-20% better gas mileage.

2. Use cruise control
If your car is equipped with cruise control and there isn't much traffic, you'll save gas if you turn it on. It keeps your speed constant, which means you won't have to keep accelerating and use more gas.

3. Shift to neutral when still
When idling at a stoplight or in a parking light, shift into neutral. This reduces transmission strain and gives the transmission some time to cool down.

4. Drop extra weight
The heavier the car, the more gas it takes to move it. Remove heavy items that've been collecting dust in your trunk-it's a simple thing that will instantly save you money. Bonus tip: Don't fill up until you're on empty since gas is heavy too.

5. Pick the best route
If your commute involves lots of stoplights, it might not be the most fuel-efficient route. Stopping a lot only increases the amount of gas you use. Look for low-traffic highways or back roads.

6. Turn off the AC
As you probably know, running the air conditioner impacts your car's overall fuel efficiency. So if you can bear it, try not to turn it on. If you must, turn it off 5-10 minutes before reaching your destination. The car will stay cool enough for that short amount of time. Bonus tip: always park in the shade-that way, your car won't have to work as hard to get cool.

7. Remove your ski rack
Unless you're using the ski, bicycle, or luggage rack on the roof every week, remove it. It increases the wind resistance on your car which results in more gas used.

8. Carpool
The amount of gas used per person is halved each time you carpool to work with a co-worker. Not only are you saving gas and money, you get the added bonus of cruising in the carpool lane!

9. Check your air filter
At any given time, almost 25% of cars need to replace their air filter. Doing so can improve gas mileage by 10%!

10. Drive slower
It's true: you use less gas when you drive slower. In fact, for every five miles per hour you reduce highway speed, you reduce fuel consumption by 7%.

How often should I have my engine oil/filter changed?

According to automotive experts, regularly scheduled oil/filter changes are the single most important item for prolonging engine life. Most new vehicles have recommended oil/filter change intervals of 7,500 miles and some new vehicles have recommended oil change intervals of 11,000 to 15,000 miles under normal operating conditions, with ""normal"" operation described as the operation of the vehicle for at least 20 minutes at a medium speed, with a steady throttle and in a clean driving environment.

Short hops to the store, stop-and-go rush hour driving, driving on dirt roads and inclement-weather operation are all considered severe operating conditions that can cause impurities to build up quickly in the oil, resulting in increased wear and tear on internal parts. That is why most owner's manuals and mechanics recommend changing the oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles (whichever comes first) to assure that maximum engine lubrication occurs while a minimum of impurities are suspended in the oil. To find out what the recommended oil change frequency is for your vehicle, check your owner's manual or talk with your automotive service professional.


How can I tell if my coolant is OK?

It is impossible to determine the condition of the coolant in the radiator just by looking at it. Coolant, a mixture of ethylene glycol and water, breaks down with age, picks up contaminants that cause sludge, and becomes acidic. When this happens, it can cause corrosion within the radiator and cooling passages of the engine. To determine its condition, coolant must be checked with coolant test strips that measure PH balance. Coolant is an environmentally hazardous substance. It pollutes the water table and is poisonous to people and animals and therefore must be disposed of as a hazardous waste. Your mechanic has special tools and procedures for testing and changing coolant.


Does my transmission ever need service?

Most car care experts advise having an automatic transmission’s fluid and filter changed every two years or 24,000 miles, to keep it in good working order. This is especially important if the vehicle is more than five years old. Many vehicles newer than five years old may need scheduled service less often and some new vehicles have transmissions that need no scheduled service for the life of the car.

By-the-book service, however, may not be adequate if your vehicle is driven hard, tows a trailer, goes off-road or carries a camper. Under these conditions, the fluid and filter may need to be changed more often -- every 12 months or 12,000 miles --because dirt and moisture buildup in the fluid can cause internal damage. Heat buildup can also be a problem. The harder the transmission works, the hotter the fluid gets and the quicker the fluid breaks down. To find out the recommended service schedule for your vehicle’s transmission, check the owner’s manual or talk with your local automotive service provider.

Manual transmissions generally need no regularly scheduled service, but may need service due to worn clutch and throw-out bearings and broken synchromesh gears. Check your owner’s manual for specific information on manual transmission service or talk with your local automotive service provider.


How often should my car get a tune-up?

The term “tune-up” actually applies only to older cars without electronic ignition (before 1981). On these vehicles a tune-up would generally be required every 15,000 – 20,000 miles and consisted of replacing the spark plugs, ignition contact points, rotor and distributor cap and adjusting the ignition timing as well as the carburetor.

On modern vehicles equipped with electronic ignition, fuel injection and computer controls, the term “engine performance maintenance” is a more accurate term. A “tune-up” for these newer vehicles is an orderly process of inspection, computer diagnosis, testing and adjustment to maintain peak engine performance, maximum operating efficiency and low exhaust emissions. During this process, spark plugs, plug wires, sensors, and modules may be replaced. The frequency at which a newer vehicle needs a tune-up is dependent more upon driving conditions than mileage and recommended tune-up frequencies vary between 30,000 – 100,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer. To learn how often your vehicle needs a tune-up, check your owner’s manual or speak with your local automotive service provider.


Why are my brakes making noise?

If you hear a grinding or squealing sound when the pedal is applied, you probably need new brake shoes or pads. Brakes shouldn’t make any noise as they operate. Even if the actual problem turns out to be something minor, the only safe assumption is this one: noisy brakes are unsafe brakes. Postponing service is unsafe and could raise the cost of repairs later. If your brakes are making noise, get them inspected or serviced right away.

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