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Reducing the sting at the pump.

While living in the country has many advantages, there are some logistical problems associated with the rural lifestyle. In our case, we live 20 miles from the nearest affordable shopping and 55 miles from "serious" shopping. With gas as expensive as it is and no relief in sight, there are certain things that can be done to "minimize" the impact at the pump.

If you could reduce your consumption by 10% and increase your mileage by the same, the horrible sting at the pump, while still painful, would at least occur less often. Here are some suggestions that work and are easy and free or inexpensive to implement.

None of these are extremely difficult to do, and most of them will yield results at the pump where it counts.

Work with others

In the past it wasn't a big deal to drive into town for this or that. Now, I tell my kids when I am going into town to see if I can pick something up for them. They now call me when they are coming home to see if we need anything. My wife makes it a habit to call me while waiting in line at the store to see if there is anything I might need. When possible, we work with our neighbors as well. A simple "do you need anything in town" is all it takes.

Get it later

As Americans, we are immersed in a "get it now" culture. Prioritize your needs and if it can wait, wait. When weighed against gas prices it makes good sense to get as much as possible and make each trip count. Think in terms of is it worth renting a $2 video when the trip will cost $5 in gas.

Gas saving inventions

If we believed all of the claims for gas saving devices, you might think you'd have to drop by the gas station to get rid of some of your extra gas. The bottom line is they don't work! When Popular Mechanics auto expert Mike Allen scientifically tested the popular gadgets that claim 10-15% even up to 300% improvement, he found that the magnets, air flow disruptors and injectors showed either no improvement or in some cases lowered fuel efficiency by as much as 20%! If you are seriously considering buying a gas saving device, remember the old adage, "There's a sucker born every minute."

There are no magic bullets, gadgets or gizmos, just some proven common-sensical things that can be done to optimize your vehicle's efficiency day in and day out.

Proven gas savers

From a maintenance standpoint, there are three simple things that will insure that you get every single mile possible out of a gallon of gas.

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Properly inflated tires

Probably the easiest and cheapest way to improve your mileage is to keep your tires properly inflated. Most tires are under inflated and the rolling resistance is increased with each lost pound of pressure. The correct tire pressure is located on the vehicle's tire information sticker or in the owner's manual, not on the tire sidewall. If you don't know how to check the tire pressure, take your vehicle to a car or tire dealer and ask them to check them. Always run the tires at the specified inflation rate, they will last longer and provide optimum fuel economy.

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Check & replace air filters regularly

Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car's gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. The air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. If you live on a dusty road, check the filter more often than specified in the owners manual. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, it will protect your engine. If you have to change your air filter regularly, consider buying an Amsoil or K&N re-useable cleanable filter which is easily cleaned when dirty.

Tune-ups

With newer vehicles going 50,000 plus miles between tune-ups, make sure yours is properly tuned at all times.

Changes in attitude

On the personal side, there are numerous habits you can ingrain to improve the fuel economy of any vehicle you drive.

Jack-rabbit starts can use four times more fuel than gentle smooth acceleration. Drive like there's an egg between your foot and the gas pedal and you should see more miles between fill-ups.

In heavy traffic, keep your distance. Every time you brake it means you will have to accelerate again. Try to pace yourself at all times. Use the brake as little as possible.

Reduce your highway speeds. If you're in no hurry, driving at a lower speed can yield up to a 10% fuel increase.

Shift as soon as possible. Revving the engine sucks the gas. On automatics, simply let off the gas sooner and the vehicle should shift down a gear.

Choose the right tires

The right set of tires can help with fuel economy just as under inflation hurts it. Tire rolling resistance can take up from 15-25% of a vehicle's energy to get moving and keep it rolling. If you are running a big off-road tire and don't really go off-road, a tire with less rolling resistance can increase your overall fuel economy from 3-5%. While it may not sound like a lot, over time it will add up to big bucks.

According to Bill VandeWater at Bridgestone Firestone North America, "consumers can see a 3-5 % difference (up or down) in their fuel economy depending on the tire they select. Some studies have shown that many consumers like high fuel economy, but not at the cost of mileage or performance (especially wet)."

Though many consumers consider fuel economy a high priority, it is typically not the number one priority for the consumer. Therefore, replacement tires are not designed with fuel economy as high a priority. According to VandeWater, "If a consumer wants a good fuel economy tire, the best choice is usually the original equipment tire."

With gas costs rising, usually the difference we pay at the pump requires taking money from some other area. Until they do find a way to run cars off water, some prudent driving techniques coupled with a proper and regular maintenance schedule will get you the most mileage possible out of every tank of gas.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Homestead mechanics; automotive fuel pumps
Author:Evers, Dennis
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2008
Words:1051
Previous Article:What to do about rural crime.
Next Article:Doing your own auto mechanic work can pay off: this college student saved a bundle.
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