In our last post we wrote about Chevrolet and OnStar teaming up to conduct a study to demonstrate 10 common mistakes drivers make that hurt their fuel economy. We had focused on the driving habits in that post… for this post we’re going to look at maintenance.
You may remember Ann Wenzlick and Beth Nunning drove identical Chevrolet Cruze LTs with an EPA estimated at 24 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, but Wenzlick averaged 37 miles per gallon using efficient driving habits in a properly maintained Cruze, while Nunning managed only 21 miles per gallon driving inefficiently and ignoring common maintenance.
So what common maintenance practices can save you money?
- Tire pressure
“All four tires on my car were five pounds under their recommended air pressure. That’s not enough to change how the Cruze drives, but it does make the engine work harder to turn the wheels. Check your tires at least once a month, as a tire that is 10 pounds under pressure can cut your fuel efficiency by more than 3 percent.” says Nunning
- Use the recommended grade of motor oil
Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.
- Use the most effective octane level for your car.
Check your owner’s manual. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases, using a higher-than-recommended octane gas offers no benefit – and costs more.
- Ignoring the “check engine” light
“I called OnStar to run a remote diagnostics check on my Cruze, because the check engine light was on. Turns out the light was on because the gas cap was loose. But more serious engine problems can cut your fuel economy by up to 40 percent.” says Nunning
- Batteries can make or break you
Check battery life, replace or charge your current battery and make sure battery cables are free of corrosion. Many breakdowns occur because batteries aren’t delivering full cranking power.
- Engine tune-ups and car maintenance checks.
According to the EPA, tune-ups improve performance as well as gas mileage. Check your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance schedules and follow them. This will avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid, or the transmission failing to go into high gear.
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