Why spend more at the gas pump when you can easily spend less? Follow these simple tips and you'll see a noticeable difference in your fuel costs. The savings are based on driving 20,000 miles per year, in a car that gets 20 mpg, with gasoline priced at $3.75 a gallon.
Surveys show that 60 percent of the vehicles on the road have tires that are underinflated by at least 30 percent. That's at least 9 psi below the manufacturer's recommended pressure. That can cost you almost 7 percent in wasted fuel ($245 per year, or 24¢ per gallon). Plus, low air pressure causes premature tire wear, and that can cost almost $300 over the life of the tires. For best results, check your tire's air pressure with a digital pressure gauge (about $10 at any auto parts store) and fill to the recommended pressure shown on the decal inside the driver's door or on the driver's door pillar.
If your 100,000-mile spark plugs have 80,000 miles on
them, they’re 80 percent worn. Misfires and incomplete
combustion occur more frequently during that last
20,000 miles, costing you almost $562.50 in
wasted fuel. You have to replace your spark plugs
anyway, so do it early and pocket the savings.
Even if you have to replace the plugs one
extra time over the life of your car, you’ll
still come out way ahead. And don't automatically assume your plugs are good for 100,000 miles. Many four-cylinder engines require new spark plugs at either 30,000- or 60,000-mile intervals.
Your engine sucks in 14 million gallons of air through the filter every year. On older vehicles (pre-1999) a dirty air filter increases fuel usage by almost 10 percent ($350 per year, or 35¢ per gallon). On newer vehicles, the computer is smart enough to detect the lower airflow, and it cuts back on fuel. So your engine will lack power and pick-up. Check the filter when you change your oil and replace it at least once a year, or more if you drive in dirty, dusty conditions.
An easy way to make sure your car is in alignment is to check tires for wear.
A tread depth gauge costs $2 at any
auto parts store
Uneven tread wear like this can cost hundreds of dollars a year in extra gas.
If your tires are bowed out of
alignment by just .017 in., it's
the equivalent of dragging your
tire sideways for 102 miles for
every 20,000 you drive. That’ll
cost you $187.50 a year in
wasted gas. It will wear your
tires faster, costing you $70
more a year.
easy way to check
your car in to
the shop. Buy a tread
depth gauge ($2) and
measure the tread depth
on both edges of each
tire (rear tires too). If
one side of the tire is
worn more than the
other, your car needs
to be aligned. An alignment costs about
$80, so you'll still
save $177.50 the first
Hard acceleration in stop-and-go driving costs you 20 percent
in gas mileage. If you live your life in rush hour traffic
and like to put the pedal to the metal, spend all your extra
time at the next stoplight figuring out how you could have
spent the $750 a year you’re wasting (70¢ per gallon).
The plastic air dam (aka “spoiler”) that’s broken or missing
wasn’t just for a sporty look. If your car had an air dam, driving
without it or with a damaged one can reduce your gas mileage.
The air dam literally “dams off” airflow to the undercarriage of
your car, forcing the air up and over the hood. That helps your car
cut through the air with less drag. It also increases airflow to the
A/C condenser and radiator, reducing the load on your car’s electrical
system. Contact a junkyard or visit certifit.com to get a
replacement air dam.
Yes, you’ve heard it
before, but how
about some real world
drive the point
drag is a
minor concern in
city driving, but it
really kills your
gas mileage at
speeds over 55
mph. In fact,
speed to 65
by 36 percent!
If you do a lot
a few minutes
early could cost you an extra
$500 to $600 a year. Keep it closer to 55 mph and use your cruise control. It will pay off.
A worn-out oxygen sensor can reduce your gas mileage. Save money by fixing it.
Oxygen sensors monitor the efficiency of combustion by tracking
the amount of oxygen remaining in the exhaust. But they degrade
over time and that can cost you up to 15 percent in gas mileage.
When they fail, the computer lights up your "service engine soon"
light, forcing you to incur an $80 diagnostic fee. On pre-1996
vehicles, replace your oxygen sensor every 60,000 miles to keep
your mileage at its peak. On 1996 and newer vehicles, replace the
sensors every 100,000 miles. Oxygen sensors cost about $60
each. Some vehicles have as many as four, but the sensors
installed behind the catalytic converter rarely fail.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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