Auto Bits: Save money with your car

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week: How to reduce the costs of owning a car

Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to save money with your car.

- Get slick to reduce maintenance costs and to save fuel. Using high-performance synthetic motor oil, as opposed to conventional oil, allows for more miles between oil changes, reducing maintenance costs and the amount of time spent on maintenance. You'll pay a little more for premium motor oil but the savings in fuel and reduced maintenance costs more than make up for the higher price.

- Reduce your insurance costs by doing your homework. One of the simplest ways to reduce insurance cost is simply to shop around. Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to do your homework. Get at least three price quotes.

- Mind the air to save money on fuel. The U.S. Energy Department reports that under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 3 percent, so make sure your tires are properly inflated. Secondly, a clogged air filter can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent.

-- ARA

The List

Consumer Reports recently released its Best and Worst Cars list. Here are the top-ranking cars in the list, along with the score (out of 100):

99: Lexus LS 460L 

97: Infiniti M35 X (AWD)

97: BMW 135i (manual)

96: Porsche 911 Carrera S (manual)

95: Infiniti M35 (RWD)

95: Infiniti G37    

93: Toyota Sienna XLE (FWD)

92: Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (manual)

92: Hyundai Genesis 3.8

91: Lexus ES 350

91: Honda Odyssey EX

For more information, go to www.consumerreports.org.

Did You Know

Auto workers in the U.S. and Canada are agreeing to cuts and wage freezes in order to help Ford and GM remain solvent.

Car Q&A

Question: I own a 1995 Ford Explorer 4x4. When the truck is cold, the engine shuts off after driving a half-mile when I stop. The engine will restart and the engine will shake and shut off again. I have replaced the fuel pump and mass airflow sensor and all tune-up parts. The gas pedal is also harder than it should be to push down. Any ideas?

Answer: Let’s start with the gas pedal and see if the problem is the gas pedal cable or throttle body. Next, check trouble fault codes and perform a fuel pressure test. The next step is to monitor engine sensors and compare the readings to known good readings. The engine shake indicates one or more cylinders are not firing properly. I have found leaking vacuum lines, intake gaskets, the EGR valve DPFE sensor and dirty fuel injectors to be common faults. A good technician will know what to look for to properly troubleshoot the problem.

-- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

GateHouse News Service