Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gas Saving Tips - Tire Maintenance

Gas is getting more expensive all the time. You might not think of it at first, but your tires can make a big difference in how fuel efficient your car is. Here are several tips that go far beyond the standard "keep your tires inflated" gas saving tips.

1) Buy better tires

Car manufacturers actually put high fuel efficiency tires on new cars in order for them to more easily meet federally mandated CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. Most of us downgrade our tires to far less fuel efficient models when it comes time to buy the first set of replacement tires because we want to save money. But buying cheaper tires could end up costing us more. Some estimates state that as a nation we could cut our fossil fuels usage by 3% just by switching to more efficient tires.

Some of the fuel efficient tires available now include the Michelin Cooper GFE and Energy Saver A/S, the Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max and the ProContact EcoPlus+ Continental. As a group, these tires typically save only about two percent fuel efficiency. If you drive 12,000 miles a year, and get 25 miles per gallon, and spend $3 per gallon of gas, that works out to a savings of $28 per year. So, unfortunately, this tip is not going to make a major difference, but it does matter over time. If gas prices go up, it will matter even more.

2) Do not "reverse" your wheels to save tire tread

This is a trick to make your tires last longer, and while it will make your tires last a little longer, it will also substantially increase the resistance of the tires. More resistance means more fuel usage, and fewer miles per gallon.

 3) Keep your front end aligned

This is another place where resistance can drain your gas budget. The front alignment of your car refers to how straight your tires and the front axle line up. Over time, the bumps and turns of the road can make your car tend to drift in one direction or another, and the more you adjust this (which you have to do, and you unconsciously do), the more gas you use. The typical way to test if your front alignment is off is to drive on an empty, straight, flat road and carefully take your hands off the wheel just for a few seconds. If your car continues straight, the alignment is good. If it drifts to the left or the right, you need to get the alignment fixed, both to preserve your car's fuel efficiency and to prolong the life of your tires.

4) Choose radial tires

They create less friction, and thus use less gas.

5) Keep that air pressure gauge handy

And finally, keep your tires fully inflated. Your car's owner's manual will tell you what the tire pressure should be. Check it once a month to keep your tires properly inflated. The standard estimated gas savings for keeping your tires inflated is 3%. For most people, that works out to a savings of a cheap lunch or two nice cups of coffee per month.

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