Auto Bits: Squeeze more savings out of the gas pump this summer

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

With the summer driving season in full force, drivers are looking for ways to alleviate the pain at the pump. Some simple steps can make a big difference in your fuel economy so you can save money and get the most out of every gallon.

Start with the type of tire you have, for example. Thanks to a mix of Mother Nature and clever eco-technology, there's a new tire that uses the oil from orange peels to create a special rubber compound that makes it more fuel efficient and last longer.

"The mixture of orange oil and rubber in our new AVID Ascend improves grip and treadlife without giving up other gas-saving properties like low rolling resistance," says Pat Keating, manager of technical engineering for Yokohama Tire Corporation. "Orange oil, a sustainable resource, is the differentiator."

Keating explains that low rolling resistance (LRR) tires improve fuel efficiency because they provide less friction as the tire rolls down the road. Less energy is wasted, which is good for eco-conscious and budget-wary consumers who want to maximize their mileage.

Here are some of Keating's other money-saving tips:

- Keep your tires properly inflated. Once a month, when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage.

- Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel cost by 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save 13 percent.

- Turn off your engine if you're stopped for more than a couple of minutes. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19 percent are possible by not letting your engine idle too long while stationary.

- Taking off from a stoplight like a drag racer and then slamming on the brakes to stop consumes gas at a faster rate. Accelerating less and slowing moderately can increase fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent. Also, many traffic lights are timed for efficient traffic flow, so you'll hit more green lights in a row by maintaining the speed limit.

- Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch. An easy test: place a penny into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, you're driving with the proper amount of tread. If you can see all of his head, you should buy a new tire.

- Tires should be rotated at least every 6,000 to 8,000 miles and the alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can cause the car to scrub, which lowers mileage and causes unnecessary tire wear.


The List

According to The Street, here are the 10 best family cars:

10. 2012 Toyota Prius v

9. 2012 Chrysler 300

8. 2012 Honda Civic

7. 2012 Chevrolet Suburban 1500

6. 2012 Kia Sorento

5. 2012 Honda CR-V

4. 2012 Subaru Outback

3. 2012 Ford Flex

2. 2012 Honda Odyssey

1. 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI

Car Q&A

Q: Do you have any opinion of the new Fiats being sold by Chrysler? I took a couple out for a test ride and found them lacking power. What are your thoughts?

A: I have driven four different Fiats including the soft top and the Abarth Hatchback turbo with the manual transmission. In the non-turbo version the automatic was my choice. The turbo version the five-speed manual was a fun and powerful car to drive. In any gear the turbo brings on the power. Our Abarth model drew attention everywhere it was parked. The duel tip exhaust has a loud roar out the back – that’s right, a loud roar. The optional front seats are well worth the $400. Who would have thought steering hub controls cruise etc., all for a price tag of MSRP $23,100 and gas mileage 28 city 34?

- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

GateHouse News Service