Spring Car Care Tips
UPDATED April 15, 2013
By WeatherBug Meteorologists
Taking care of today`s modern cars has become a simple task. Most car-owners think keeping up with the periodic oil change and filling the tank is all their car needs. However, it`s easy to overlook the little things that help keep a car running efficiently.
It`s important to perform regularly scheduled maintenance, such as keeping the tires inflated or checking the belts. If forgotten, your car may be wasting small amounts of gas with every mile.
Any wasted gas mileage can add up to a significant amount of money lost with gas prices on a steep rise. The good news: keeping up with your car`s maintenance is one of the easiest ways to pick up on a few more miles per gallon of gas.
For those searching for ways to cut back on fuel costs, it only takes a few minutes extra at the gas station and a little record keeping to enhance your car`s performance. Keep up with the following maintenance tips for a better running, more fuel-efficient car:
1. Keep Tires Fully Inflated
Underinflated tires can make gas mileage suffer by increasing resistance and making it more difficult for the car to move. Check the owner`s manual of your car for the best "Pounds per Square Inch", or PSI rating. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every 1 PSI you are under the optimal rate, you lose .4 percent of your miles per gallon. Check your tires as often as possible, and ideally every time the tank is filled.
2. Use the Correct Motor Oil
Even though the motor may work with different grades of oil, it will only run at its best potential if the correct motor oil is used for your car. A few miles per gallon can be gained by using the exact oil recommended for your car, which can be found in the owner`s manual.
3. Tune-up Your Engines
The most important part of a tune-up for better gas mileage is an accurately working oxygen sensor. Oxygen sensors monitor the fuel mixture so the engine computer can properly adjust the air/fuel ratio to maintain the lowest possible emissions and the best fuel economy. Faulty sensors are the most common reason for a failed emissions test. Precise oxygen sensors can increase your mileage efficiency by an average of 10-15 percent. Replacing a faulty oxygen sensor is easy and costs between 60-80 dollars on average, which is inexpensive compared to the amount of gas money it can save. The most obvious way to know when your oxygen sensor needs to be replaced is if the "check engine" light appears, but they should ideally be replaced every 50,000 miles.
4. Check Your Filters
Replacing filters on a regular basis can extend your car`s lifespan and better the fuel efficiency. There a couple important filters to check:
Air filters: Cars run on both gas and oxygen. If the flow of air is blocked by a clogged air filter, a car`s performance and fuel efficiency will go down. Air filters should be checked and replaced every 12,000 miles.
Oil filters: Oil filters are easy to replace and can help prevent unnecessary wear and tear of the engine. Oil filters should be replaced with engine oil every 3,000 miles.
Transmission filters: A blocked transmission filter can produce transmission slippage, engagement problems and engine hesitation. This filter should be changed every 12-15,000 miles to extend the life of your automatic transmission.
5. Shed Extra Pounds...In Your Trunk
This requires no mechanical, or even physical training at all. Simply remove all extra baggage such as newspapers, golf clubs, textbooks, and more out of your car and trunk. Reducing the car`s weight can increase the mileage of a tank of gas. And here`s an added bonus: you may discover a favorite lost item hiding in the depths of your trunk.
6. Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are good indicators of engine condition. Spark plugs should be checked every 30,000 miles, even if your car is low-maintenance.
Remember to keep up with car maintenance by checking off the above tips for a safe and more fuel efficient running vehicle.
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Photo Credit: AP photo of unsold 2008 Town & Country minivans at a Chrysler-Jeep dealership in Centennial, Colo., on April 27, 2008.
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