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Ways To Get Better Gas Mileage

by Christian Bryant

OIL

The automobile engine internals need lube to function properly and to reduce friction and heat. Motor or engine oil serves that purpose and needs to be changed every 3,000 miles (or otherwise suggested mileage) to keep the engine running smoothly. When it comes to choosing a type of oil, “Go with synthetic,” says Josh Bartram of Express Lube in Greensboro. “It’s slicker and helps improve gas mileage.” In addition, Bartram says synthetic oil allows drivers to go an extra 7,000 miles more than conventional oil before a change. Keep in mind, “some cars can take synth[etic] oil and some can’t,” says Tom DePaulis of Battleground Kia,

PCV VALVE

The positive crankcase ventilation valve releases pressure in the engine and should be changed every year or so. Ventilation in the crankcase is important. The crank pressure can wear the seals in piston rings making car blow discolored smoke from the exhaust pipe.

FUEL INJECTION CLEANER

The fuel injection system helps pump fuel and air into the engine for maximum performance. When carbon deposits and debris build up in that system, it prevents the injector from spraying fuel effectively. The purpose of fuel injection cleaner is self explanatory: It cleans the fuel injection system. John Kelly, an automotive systems technology student at Guilford Tech, warns for car owners to beware of “gimmicky” cleaners. As with most things, “You get what you pay for,” Kelly says.

KEEPING GAS IN THE TANK

If I had a nickel for every time my father told me to keep a quarter of a tank of gas in my car, I would at least have $1. Bartram makes it plain as to why this is important for engines: “If you run out of gas, your fuel pump is gonna suck whatever’s in there…. Dirt, whatever.”

TIRE PRESSURE

For good treadwear, tires should have equal amounts of pressure. Low pressure especially can make it harder for your car to move forward. “Ten pounds off, you can lose a lot of gas mileage,” Bartram says. Most cars will have the suggested amount of tire pressure listed on the door jamb, or the vertical portion of the door frame.

TIRE ALIGNMENT

If the tires on a car point too far in or too far out, it’s much more difficult to move forward. Kelly makes an analogy that involves a shopping cart with crooked wheels. It’s obviously harder to maneuver a cart with bad wheels. More stress on the tires makes it harder for a driver to maneuver their vehicle. Anything that makes a car harder to drive will undoubtedly affect gas mileage.

FLUID LEVELS

Transmission fluid can affect the timing of a shift in both manual and automatic transmission vehicles. The transmission will stay in a lower gear longer than need be which can result in more gas being used. Power steering fluid makes it harder or easier for a driver to turn their car. As mentioned before, anything that makes a car harder to drive… you know the rest.

FACTORY-RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE/READING OWNER’S MANUAL

These two items are the most overlooked suggestions when it comes to car maintenance. Car owners are advised to follow the guidelines set by the owner’s manual and take heed of factory recommendations when it comes to maintenance. Besides, reading is fun-damental.

AIR AND FUEL FILTERS

“Air filters allow the engine to breathe,” Kelly says. Air filters collect dirt and grime and must be replaced every 15,000-20,000 miles. Fuel filters are considered even more integral in that a clogged fuel filter, which helps fuel flow to the engine, won’t allow a car to start. Fuel filters may only need to be changed once or twice during car ownership.

WALK/BIKE/CARPOOL/UTILIZE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

These have remained viable options.

Special thanks to John Kelly, Josh Bartram and Tom DePaulis.

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