Small details make big mileage impact

Road

If you are one of our great Facebook fans, you may have noticed the “Classic ’60s project” photo album we put up in the last couple weeks. I rebuilt and tuned a 383 Stroker Chevy V8, delivered it to North Carolina in my 1966 El Camino, and installed it in a customer’s 1968 Chevelle.

Along the way I made it a goal to get the best gas mileage possible. Just coincidentally, I ran across this list which validated the very steps I took to save gas. It was written by shop owner Pam Oakes of Pam’s Motor City in Florida. She is also the author of “The Lady Mechanic’s Total Car Care for the Clueless: A Manual for Car Owners.”

1.) Make a quarter tank your new “empty.” Fuel going below a quarter tank is not healthy for the fuel pump. Fuel pumps generate heat. Keeping your tank above one-quarter full keeps the pump submerged. Liquid fuel is better at transferring heat than air. Keep your fuel pump happy, your vehicle’s fuel economy happy, and your bank account happy by keeping fuel in your vehicle. Not including the price of a new fuel pump module (ranging between $400 to $1,100), if you keep your vehicle below a quarter tank, you run the risk of turning a troublesome situation into an emergency.

2.) Use your cruise control. It is natural for an individual to flex — even slightly — their ankle while it rests on the accelerator. With today’s vehicles, the onboard sensors and actuators, measuring in increments of hundredths of a volt, will notice this increase-decrease demand on the pedal and the demand for fuel as well. Your cruise control keeps this at a steady level, therefore increasing fuel economy. You can even use your cruise while driving through your neighborhood, on expressways, etc.

3.) Use “top-tier” fuel. Six automotive manufacturers (GM, Toyota, BMW, Honda, Audi and VW) requested a specific fuel blend so their vehicles operate at peak mpg efficiency with the least amount of emission. Several complied. It’s not the octane grade, but it is based on the formula of the fuel that makes your vehicle run its best. Using “top-tier” fuel will help maximize your fuel mpg. Even if it’s a 3 mpg improvement (based on a fuel tank of 15 gallons), based on the savings, you will get a free tank of gas every five to six tank fills (on paper, that is).

4.) Monitor your tire pressure. This is not only key to your fuel economy, but for steering and braking as well. Each vehicle has its specific tire pressure on the inside driver’s door jamb. Do not go off of the maximum tire pressure on the side of the tire! This maximum tire pressure designation is stamped on the sidewall because the tire will fit many different makes and models, with many different tire pressure designations. Just a 3 to 4 psi drop will significantly decrease your fuel economy 2 to 3 mpg (depending upon make and model).

5) Clean your car! Clean out your car’s cab and trunk of books, newspapers, golf clubs, bowling balls, etc. It may not seem like a lot of weight to you, but your car knows different. All those items add up to more weight that the car is hauling around town. More weight equals more fuel consumed. Plus, it increases your mechanical wear and tear, too.

More about my Chevy adventures next time!

Paul made it his goal to get the best mileage possible during his service trip to beautiful North Carolina.

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Gas Mileage
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