Monday, September 10, 2012

Fuel Follies 101

Gas fluctuates so often, that it’s difficult to find a consistent method of getting affordable gas ALL of the time.  With the emergence of smartphones, we can search the nearby area for gas station prices, but it’s still difficult to consistently find a price we don’t mind paying.  Sure you want to save gas, but there's a lot of bad advice on how to do it. Some of it makes no difference, and some of it can wind up costing you.  So, here’s a look at a few misconceptions:

1.)    Filling Your Tank in the Morning

Many people have heard that filling your gas in the morning is opportune because the fuel is cold.  The theory is that fluids are more dense at lower temperatures, so a gallon of cold gas has more molecules than a gallon of warmer gas.  However, the temperature varies little during the course of the day, so there’s little difference in early gas.

2.)    Changing Your Air Filter

A clean air filter WON’T save you gas.  Engines have sensors that automatically adjust the fuel-air mixture as an increasingly clogged air filter choles off the engine’s air supply.

3.)    Using Premium Fuel

Lately, premium gas has been a hard sell for gas stations.  However, many drivers still fill up with premium gas.  Newer cars for which premium is recommended, but not required, won’t suffer with regular fuel.  The result is a slight reduction in peak horsepower that a normal daily driver won’t even notice. 

4.)    Pumping Up Your Tires

Ok.  First and foremost, proper tire inflation is important.  Under-inflated tires can lead to accidents and poor handling.  According to on-the-road driving tests by both Consumer Reports and auto information site, underinflated tires reduce fuel economy, so proper inflation is key. But you should never over-inflate your tires. They'll get you slightly better fuel economy because there will be less tread touching the road, reducing friction. But that means less grip for braking and turning. The added risk of a crash isn't worth the extra mile a gallon you might gain.

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