What about Fuel?
No matter if it’s a car or a bike, if you drive, sooner or later you have to think about the fuel. Have you ever wondered if it would be better to pay a little more and put the “good stuff” (premium) in the tank? And just what have you done lately to maintain the fuel system of your favorite set of wheels? Well, here are a few tips on the subject.
First, let’s talk about Premium vs. Regular gasoline. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, that is, unless you’ve modified your power train. Check the owner’s manual; it will tell you what fuel you should be using.
The octane rating of gasoline is an indication of how the fuel burns. Regular gas, 87-octane, ignites easier than premium gas at 93- octane. In an engine designed to run on regular gasoline, higher octane may not burn so well. Engines built for high performance usually are designed with higher compression. Regular gasoline is likely to burn unevenly, or even explode prematurely, causing spark knock. These engines require premium fuel to prevent knock, which can be damaging, but at the very least, using the wrong octane reduces performance.
So the bottom-line, don’t waste your money buying premium fuel if your engine doesn’t require it. It won’t give you better fuel economy or better performance and may even cause problems.
Here are a few other tips to take care of your ride.
1. Try to keep your tank at least half full, especially in cold weather. When you get down to a ¼ tank, fill up. Not only will you avoid running out of gas at inopportune times, but this also helps prevent moisture from building up in the tank.
2. Don’t top it off. It’s tempting to keep clicking the pump even after the nozzle shuts off just to see if you can get in a few extra squirts of gas. Overfilling can actually cause problems on vehicles equipped with emissions systems designed to store excess fuel vapors from the tank.
3. Tighten the gas cap after every fill up. This will help prevent moisture and dirt from getting into your tank and gas fumes from evaporating out. According to the Car Care Council, loose, missing or damaged gas caps cause millions of gallons of gas to evaporate each year.
4. Replace the fuel filter every once in a while. It’s not meant to last the lifetime of your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance schedule. If it’s not included, it’s still a good idea to check it every 25,000 -50,000 miles. Consider where you drive and where you buy your fuel.
5. You may need to clean your fuel injectors if you’re having performance problems. Again, check your owner’s manual for service recommendations. Fuel injectors can develop deposits over time that will eventually cause poor performance.
6. For better fuel economy, tune it up and slow it down.
- By now, everyone should know that a well-tuned engine uses less fuel. But what about how you drive? Unless you are at the racetrack, avoid those jack rabbit starts and driving over the speed limit. This really burns up extra fuel. According to www.fueleconomy.gov, every 5 mph over 50 is like spending an additional 25¢ per gallon of gas. Who can afford that?
- A few simple things like making sure your tires are properly inflated and replacing dirty air filters will help.
- If you’re driving a pickup truck, consider using a tonneau cover or modifying the tailgate to reduce drag.
- How about replacing the plastic air dam you broke running up onto the curb? It’s not there just for looks. This strategic plastic panel reduces drag and affects fuel mileage, but it also literally “dams off” the air, forcing it up under the hood to help cool the radiator and A/C condenser. Don’t want to pay for a new one? Check with your local junkyard. If your car isn’t a collector’s item, they just might have one lying around.
So until next time, enjoy your ride.
Sue Christophersen (aka Susie Q)