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Tip of the Month

What Can I Do to get Better Gas Mileage?

The best way to use less fuel is to park your car, but short of that there are many things that can affect fuel economy. Besides getting a more economical car, they fall into two groups; The condition of the vehicle and driving habits.

Optimizing the Car

Keep the tires inflated to proper pressures.
Under inflated tires create more drag and use more fuel.

Use your air conditioning only when necessary. Roll down the windows or open the air vents to keep your car comfortable on not-so-hot days. Many vehicles will run the air conditioning in the defrost mode. If you don’t need defrost, put the controls in heat or vent to reduce engine load and improve mileage.

Replace the engine’s thermostat every five years. Thermostats tend to lose efficiency as they wear and will start opening too soon, not allowing the engine to reach the normal 195 –200 degrees. On-board computers often don’t put the engine into optimum economy operation until normal operating temperature is reached. The engine is designed to run at 195 –220 degrees and will not run as efficiently until it is reached.

Use Synthetic Oil. Synthetic oil creates less drag when the engine is cold and there is less engine friction all of the time, which can increase mileage. Also the use of a fully synthetic oil results in less fossil based oil being consumed for lubrication. Synthetic oil does not cause carbon and sludge build up as fossil based oil does.

Use quality fuel. Newer cars have the ability to adjust to lower quality fuels to a certain degree to prevent pinging or knocking. This is accomplished by not advancing the ignition timing as much, which leads to poor mileage. The money you save on the fuel may disappear from lower mileage and performance. Fuel without the proper additives can cause carbon deposits which will rob mileage and performance as they accumulate over time.

Keep the vehicle in tune. As spark plugs wear and filters get dirty, mileage slowly decreases. Older cars need periodic adjustments, newer computer controlled cars need their systems inspected occasionally for proper performance.

Jackrabbit starts

Optimizing the Driver

Go easy on the brakes and gas pedal. Avoid "jackrabbit" starts by accelerating gradually whenever possible. Heavy acceleration puts the fuel system into a high enrichment mode and uses much more fuel.

Anticipate stops to avoid sudden braking. When approaching a red light or stop sign, let off the gas and use deceleration as soon as you know you will need to stop. Most cars shut off fuel delivery to the engine under deceleration conditions to reduce emissions and save fuel.

Avoid prolong idling. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a lengthy wait. Instead of idling at a drive-up window, park the car and go in. Idling burns more gas than restarting the engine.

Limit car warm-ups in winter; your vehicle is designed to start driving after a 10-second warm-up if it is running properly. Avoid freeway speeds for the first couple of miles if possible.

Avoid tailgating. The car in front of you will keep you switching from the brake and gas pedals instead of using light throttle and deceleration for control. Braking wastes fuel used to regain desired speed.

Combine errands into one trip
. Consolidate trips to destinations that are near one another. Once you arrive, park and walk between destinations. Save errands for one afternoon and plan your trip so you don't retrace your route. You not only save gas this way, but reduce wear-and-tear on your vehicle.

Avoid carrying unneeded items in the trunk. Extra weight decreases gas mileage. Place items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks to reduce wind drag.

What many drivers don't realize is that how you drive can be as important as what you drive. In one test, Australia’s Royal Automobile Club of Victoria took a Ford mid-sized wagon with a 4.0 liter V6 engine and a smaller a Mazda 323 with a 1.8 liter four cylinder engine to local suburban roads. Both cars were driven “aggressively” and then “smoothly.”

The club’s finding: “A large vehicle driven conservatively can get better fuel economy than a smaller car driven aggressively.”

By simply avoiding jackrabbit starts, excessive braking and ever-changing speeds, drivers can cut their fuel consumption by up to one-third.


Visit Wayne's Garage for your car repair and service in the Eugene and Springfield area. We are an AAA Approved Automobile Repair Facility and have been awarded the Blue Seal of Excellence by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Warning Lights


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Automotive Recalls

We often hear about auto recalls when they become big news, but recalls happen quite often and are not always publicized. Many cars running around out on the road have recalls that have never been addressed.

For those who bought used vehicles or have moved since a vehicle purchase, they may not get a notice.

How do you find out if there is a recall on your car? Go to Carfax and enter your make and VIN#. If your car is not listed you can check with a dealer or go to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA.

Millions of drivers could be endangered by operating vehicles that have been recalled but have not been repaired, according to an investigation conducted by Edmunds. They found there were at least 2.7 million vehicles listed for sale last year that still were subject to unfulfilled recalls. There are no laws that require a car's owner to notify a potential buyer that the car being sold is the subject of a recall. More about recalls and 14 of the largest.starbar.gif

Ignoring that Check Engine Light
Check Engine Light When the first GM cars with onboard computers and diagnostic capabilities came out in the early 80's, they could recognize a limited amount of problems and could store less than 20 trouble codes. It's not unusual for an average car today to recognize and set 125 codes or more just for the engine and transmission.

Then there is Anti-lock Brakes, Traction Control, Air Bag, suspension and other systems that have their own codes.

Some of these engine and transmission codes are for problems that usually won't cause problems we notice while driving. We often hear, "that light has been on for years, I don't worry about it anymore" or "Since this is a minor problem, can I continue driving it and not fix it right now?"
Unfortunately you only have one check engine light. If you ignore the light because of a problem that doesn't seem to affect the way the car drives, something else might crop up that will cause big problems and you may not know until it's too late because the light is already on.

Some problems that the light can come on to warn you about can cause poor mileage or be a warning that you may be left by the side of the road soon. Other warnings can be about things that can cause catalytic converter, transmission or engine failure.


See more Automotive Service and Repair Tips at Wayne's Garage

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Many of today's cars have more than 100 million lines of software code running everything from navigation systems to braking systems.


Wayne's Garage - serving Eugene and Springfield, Oregon car and light truck needs.

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333 Q Street
Springfield, Oregon