With gas prices on an eternal upswing and the summer driving season in full force, drivers are looking for ways to alleviate the pain at the pump. Some simple steps can make a big difference in your fuel economy so you can save money and get the most out of every gallon.
Start with the type of tire you have, for example. Thanks to a mix of Mother Nature and clever eco-technology, there's a new tire that uses the oil from orange peels to create a special rubber compound that makes it more fuel efficient and last longer.
"The mixture of orange oil and rubber in our new AVID Ascend improves grip and treadlife without giving up other gas-saving properties like low rolling resistance," says Pat Keating, manager of technical engineering for Yokohama Tire Corporation, maker of a variety of truck and car tires. "Orange oil, a sustainable resource, is the differentiator."
Keating explains that low rolling resistance (LRR) tires improve fuel efficiency because they provide less friction as the tire rolls down the road. Less energy is wasted, which is good for eco-conscious and budget-wary consumers who want to maximize their mileage.
"Studies show driving on LRR tires alone can save about $100 annually on gas. Add orange oil and the savings go even higher. It makes the Ascend about 20 percent more energy efficient than a standard touring tire - that means hundreds of dollars in fuel savings over the life of the tire."
Thanks to the presence of orange oil in the manufacturing process, fuel efficiency is achieved as well as long life. How long? Up to 85,000 miles in the case of the Ascend so drivers can keep driving on this season. But consumers can also save money by simply driving smarter and checking/maintaining their tires regularly. Here are some of Keating's money-saving tips:
* Keep your tires properly inflated. Once a month, when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage.
* Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel cost by 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save 13 percent.
* Turn off your engine if you're stopped for more than a couple of minutes. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19 percent are possible by not letting your engine idle too long while stationary.
* Taking off from a stoplight like a drag racer and then slamming on the brakes to stop consumes gas at a faster rate. Accelerating less and slowing moderately can increase fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent. Also, many traffic lights are timed for efficient traffic flow, so you'll hit more green lights in a row by maintaining the speed limit.
* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch. An easy test: place a penny into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, you're driving with the proper amount of tread. If you can see all of his head, you should buy a new tire.
* Tires should be rotated at least every 6,000 to 8,000 miles and the alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can cause the car to scrub, which lowers mileage and causes unnecessary tire wear.