At the auto parts store recently I saw these automatic tire pressure monitoring caps on the impulse buy rack near the register. I’d seen them before, but never thought to pick any up since my wife and I religiously check our tire pressure — you can save a lot of gas, you know! This time I decided to grab a set to see if they worked, or if they did anything at all. The tire pressure monitoring caps are set to a specific tire pressure, which cannot be adjusted. They sell the caps with a number of preset pressures, so you should be able to find one that fits your application. The preset pressure is printed on the top of the cap nice and big so even a station attendant will know how you prefer to inflate your tires. So I grabbed a set and put them on one of our cars. They go right on, all you do is screw them on instead of your regular black valve caps. This set was calibrated to 36 psi. Before we installed the smart caps we set one tire to 36 psi, one to 30 psi, and another to 25 psi. We screwed the caps on and who would’ve guessed, they worked! Just like they claimed, the cap on the 36 psi tire indicated green, meaning it was filled correctly. The tire set to 30 psi showed half-green, indicating a tire needing air, and the tire with only 25 psi showed no green at all, telling you that you need air immediately. I have to say that I was impressed with the simplicity and low cost of these useful accessories. Tire pressure is one of the most neglected maintenance items, and something like this can turn a chore into a no-brainer. As long as you can deal with what I consider to be an ugly appearance, they seem to be great. News source: About Auto Repair
Time for a few words of wisdom about octane, sales of the higher octane, thus more expensive, fuels have fallen off with the high gas prices. First read your owner’s manual, you know that manual under all the junk in the glove box, if you don’t have one look online. Heed the advice they give on minimum octane for your vehicle. If you use to low of an octane you won’t hear a ping as in the old days, as the knock will retard the timing. But what will happen is the engine will carbon up, no matter how many road miles you put on, and this can cause major problems with no warning till it is too late. Knock sensors detect detonation and automatically retard the spark to compensate. The delay means maximum gas expansion occurs when the piston is farther along in its down stroke and thus there’s more room in the cylinder head. This reduces peak cylinder pressure, eliminating knock but also giving you less power, poorer mileage and carbon build up.Regular gas has an octane rating of 87, midgrade 89, and premium 91 or 92. (Octane ratings are lower in the West Mountains. All grades of Fuel contain roughly the same amount of heat energy, or power.. Rather, a higher octane rating means the fuel is less likely to cause your engine to knock or ping. Knock, also known as detonation, occurs when part of the fuel-air mixture in one or more of your car’s cylinders ignites spontaneously due to compression or excess carbon Independent of the combustion by the spark plug. Instead of a controlled burn, you get an explosion. To avoid this, high-octane gas is formulated to burn slower than regular, yes slower. So it will ignite without benefit of spark.Using high octane when you car does not require it is a waste of money, it will not increase your power or mileage. The one major difference is the additives put into the fuel. One example was Amoco silver, which has changed since going BP; it contained several excellent additives such as a cleaner that produced excellent results. I know of no Major that has a fuel like this Mobil is the closest but still not worth the money if your vehicle does not call for higher octane.If you insist on spending some extra dollars add a can of sea foam to your tank on every 3rd or 4th fill and you will perhaps see some results, but it is more of a maintance item that gallonage increase.
As with other auto media outlets, we’ve been closely following Chrysler’s “Let’s Refuel America” program, which is offering three years of $2.99 gas for anyone who buys a Dodge, Jeep or Chrysler vehicle (that isn’t a Challenger, Viper, Wrangler, Sprinter Van or other popular vehicles). After a few back-of-the-envelope calculations we’re starting to see this is a good deal for Chrysler and, at best, a mediocre rebate for consumers. For one thing, in lieu of other rebates, Chrysler doesn’t necessarily have to put all of these expenses on their books right away when it records the sale, which could be a PR boon for the automaker while it tries to buy time for the “New Day” that’s coming. But most importantly, the amount of money that a consumer can save is maybe less than most expected.Let’s start with an extreme example by choosing the Chrysler Aspen SUV with the large 5.7-Liter V8, which isn’t exactly a teetotaler when it comes to gas. We’ll assume 12,000 miles a year with an average gas price of $3.61, which is what AAA considers the average gas price for this week. The Aspen gets 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. In all city driving you’d use 923 gallons of gas a year with a savings of $0.62 per gallon for a total savings of $572 a year or $1,716 over the three years. In all highway driving you use 667 gallons of gas for a total yearly savings of $413 and a three-year savings of $1,240.That isn’t bad, if they let you keep the other rebates. Last month, the suggested incentive on a Chrysler Aspen was a $3,000 instant cash rebate. Assuming a three-year savings of $1,500 in combined driving at $0.62 savings you’d need gas to go to approximately $4.85 per gallon to even it out.To use a more regular example, the Chrysler 300 with the 2.7-Liter V6 gets 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Under the same circumstances you get $1,240 at one extreme with all city driving and $859 with all highway driving. Given that they offer up to $3,000 cash incentives on the Chrysler 300 as well, you’re talking about a bad deal for consumers if they pass on the cash for the gas savings.And what if your car takes more than regular gas? Here’s what Chrysler’s own press release has to say: “If mid-grade or premium unleaded fuel is purchased, the customer will be billed for the $2.99 plus $.15 per gallon for mid-grade (88-89 octane) or plus $.30 for premium (90-94 octane).”This means that you’re now taking up to $.30 off of your average savings, meaning that if you use the card when gas drops to $3.28 and you’re using premium that you’ll actually be losing money.And what happens if gas drops to closer to $3.00 a gallon? Your rebate is suddenly a big, fat zero. The one thing that is clear is that Chrysler is desperate to move inventory and, if you play your cards right, a deal is to be had. Just make sure you consider all the facts and don’t pass on an instant cash rebate if you think it could outweigh the cost of gas savings over three years. Obviously, the best deal is a rebate and gas savings, so make sure to ask as Chrysler is saying that this is available on some vehicles. [Source: Chrysler , Houston Chronicle[ News source: JALOPNIK
An American Automotive Association study shows the cost of driving a passenger vehicle in the United States has increased 1.9 cents per mile in the last year and now averages 54.1 cents per mile.Some expenses declined in 2007, higher Fuel prices offset these savings and the overall cost of vehicle ownership and operation climbed higher this year,” said John Nielsen, director of the association’s Approved Auto Repair network. In 2008, the association estimates it will cost $8,121 to own and operate a new passenger car driven 15,000 miles per year. This compares to $7,823 per year in 2007, or 52.2 cents per mile.Costs for maintenance, full-coverage insurance, and depreciation are all slightly lower this year, while the costs for fuel, tires, financing, license, registration and taxes showed increases.I am glad that I am not a traveling salesman with costs like this. I just dont see how some of them make it.
DETROIT – For those drivers who pull away from the pump with their gas tank cap on the trunk lid, Ford Motor Co. has begun to make good on a 2006 promise to get rid of the caps on its entire model lineup.Jettisoning the pesky caps will become most apparent in the new 2009 F-150 pickup truck, Ford’s top-selling vehicle, which was unveiled this week at the North American International Auto Show. It will hit showrooms in the fall.The capless refueling system already is available on the 2008 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle, and it’s coming to the 2009 Flex crossover and Lincoln MKS luxury sedan, said Matt O’Leary, chief engineer on the pickup.The feature may not cause people to buy the trucks, but O’Leary said it’s something that they’ll appreciate every time they fill up.”People just don’t like the cap,” he said. “Anyone who drives a vehicle hates that.”The system, which came from Ford’s NASCAR racing experience, first appeared on the 2003 Ford GT sports car. It has two small spring-loaded tabs that pull back a flap inside the fuel filler neck as the nozzle hits them. When the nozzle is pulled out, the flap closes.In addition to the convenience factor, the capless system also has environmental benefits, O’Leary said, by limiting the escape of Fuel vapors. And it ends a common problem that occurs when a cap isn’t screwed on tightly enough – a check engine light that appears on the dashboard due to a break in the fuel system’s vacuum.Ford says eventually all of its vehicles will be capless. It originally made the promise to eliminate the caps at an automotive conference in August 2006.Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst with the consulting firm Global Insight in Troy, Mich., called the new system a nice “surprise and delight” feature, but said no one would buy a Ford because of it.”It’s a nice addition, but by no means a decision-maker,” he said.O’Leary said he expects other automakers to develop their own versions of the system and that it eventually would spread to all vehicles.Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president for vehicle sales, service and marketing, said he isn’t so sure.”The removal of the gas cap never shows up like a problem in any of our research,” he said. News source: Forbes
DAYTONA BEACH — With the government predicting Fuel could hit $3.40 a gallon by spring, a lot of people are paying closer attention to driving habits and car maintenance.In a new survey, 43 percent of motorists said they have taken better care of their vehicles in the past year because of rising gas prices. The poll also found that 52 percent have cut back on driving.But which car-maintenance tasks should get highest priority?Some of the most effective measures are either free or relatively cheap, automotive experts say.Here are some ideas from Rich White, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association’s marketing director:Â· Check tire pressure as often as weekly. “When tires aren’t inflated properly, it’s like driving with the parking brake on and can cost you a mile or two per gallon,” he said.Â· Check the gas cap. One vehicle in every six has a cap that’s either loose, damaged or missing. That lets 147 million gallons of gas vaporize every year.Â· Clean out your trunk or truck bed. An extra 100 pounds will cost you 1 percent to 2 percent in added gas.After that, concentrate on what’s under the hood, area mechanics recommended.The air filter also should be changed when it gets noticeably dirty, said Jayson Rickard, commercial parts manager at Advance Auto Discount Parts in Port Orange. Inspect the filter every time oil is changed. Replacing a clogged filter can improve gas mileage by up to 10 percent, according to the aftermarket trade group.Spark plugs used to last 30,000 miles, but some can now go 100,000, said Mark Culp, owner of Speedway Auto Repair in Daytona Beach. “They need to be replaced when they reach their limits.”Or take fuel injectors. Once every year or two, injectors should be cleaned, Culp said. “If the injectors are clogged, you’ll get lousy gas mileage.”The oxygen sensor should be replaced every 50,000 miles, said Dan Lange of Dan’s Auto Service in Daytona Beach. Nearly every auto parts store carries a shelf full of Fuel and oil additives that promise to increase gas mileage. However, AAA’s Auto Club South in Tampa says few, if any, increase mileage by any significant amount. Those that do may violate emission restrictions.”We recommend that drivers stay away from these products altogether,” said auto club spokesman Randy Bly.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tested more than 100 devices and additives and reports that nearly all of them are useless.One technological boost that deserves consideration, Bly said, is the use of nearly pure nitrogen to inflate tires, a practice that started in the racing industry and now is going mainstream. Nitrogen maintains stable tire pressure for longer periods than regular air, which is 78 percent nitrogen and about 20 percent oxygen, Bly said.”It’s a good idea but the issue there is cost,” Bly said. “Some drivers may not want to spend $5 or $10 per tire to use nitrogen.”Bly said he doesn’t expect the new year to bring any relief at the gas pumps. He cited the latest forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Agency that predicts average prices in the $3.40 range by midspring. News source: News Journal online
Why is it that we want to squeeze every tiny drop of precious fuel into the gas tank before we call it quits. I saw a guy the other day who was literally bending his knees to peer into the dark gas filler hole between lightning fast squeezes of the pump trigger. I guess it was worth it, he probably got an extra 1/20 gallon in the tank. That’ll buy him an extra mile or so before he has to perform his bizarre gas dance all over again.Sure, risking soaked clothing for the sake of an extra 25 cents in the tank seems ludicrous when you think about it. Besides the obvious loss of cool points, there are some real issues that can arise from repeatedly overfilling your fuel tank. The parts of your fuel system that are supposed to be soaking in gas 24-7 are designed and formulated to do their job for years. But the parts that aren’t supposed to soak in it – things like your fuel filler tube or the rubber seal where the filler meets the chassis – can suffer from continual saturation. If you’re a green thinker, think about all of the gas that evaporates into the atmosphere thanks to spills and overflows. It’s a real thing. There are also components of your emissions control system that will be damaged if the come in contact with Fuel. You don’t have to take it from me. The Tappet Brothers over in Boston speak the truth, along with about 40 minutes of relationship advice, when it comes to car stuff. Everyone wants to see what they have to say. I’m still waiting for Click and Clack to get back to me about how to get the phone number of the girl who works near the windshield washer fluid at the New Baltimore rest area News source: About Auto Repair
Have read several articles on the impact gas prices are going to have on the economy I won’t reprint them here as I do not agree with all of the information they contain. One fact I do agree with is the impact the prices are having on auto repair shops and parts suppliers mainly aftermarket. Many of the aftermarket chains are seeing a drastic drop in sales and thus a rise in inventory. I don’t know what the answer is but I am sure we will see prices rise as a result. When they have to pay taxes on this inventory increase the money has to come from somewhere. I have seen some specials come from the major aftermarket repair facilities that make me glad I am no longer in the business. The second is Starbucks and many specialty shops are getting nervous. Who is going to pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee (I never would) after they pay $50 and up to fill their tank. Also I think many of these overpriced business are due a wake-up call. I only hope the few honest shops can stay true to their values and not resort to over selling to stay afloat. When gas prices first approached $3 I thought the major oil companies would drop the price down to $2 or so and we would think we were getting a bargain but usage never fell off so why let the price go down. I am just as guilty I haven’t changed my driving habits as the price has risen and I know of very few people who have. I don’t know what the answer and I normally don’t complain unless I have a cure but in this case I had to after I read the article on Starbucks and visited with folks in the repair and parts business. Crew Chief Happy Turkey day
Did you know that how much air you have in your tires can have a direct affect on your gas mileage? It’s true. Here’s why:Let’s say your tires are supposed to be filled to 35 psi. If they are filled correctly, six square inches of your tire are touching the road, just the way your tires were designed. But let some air out, and now the pressure is only 30 psi. Since your tire is like a balloon, the more air you have on the inside, the rounder and more firm your tire becomes. If you had six square inches touching the road at 35 psi, the flatter 30 psi tire will have eight square inches touching at once, making it harder for your engine to get things rolling from a dead stop. Here’s another way to think of it. Say your dog is going to the vet, and she’s not so interested in moving toward the car.You start out pulling her with all four of her feet on the ground. We’ll call this four square inches touching. But then she plops her rear end on the ground. You’re now pulling 12 square inches, and boy is she harder to drag toward the car. Unfortunately you can’t dangle a piece of salami in front of your car to make it go, so you’re left using the engine, which uses more gas the harder it pulls. Filling your tires to the correct pressure will make it easire on the engine, and that means you’ll be using less gas. It can make a difference of a three or four miles per gallon. That’s at least 36 more miles to the average tank of gas. At one tank of gas per week, you could be adding 1,872 free miles in a year! That’s savings, and that’s Autmotive Empowerment for no money at all. News source: About Auto Repair
A new class of Fuel, called TOP TIER Detergent Fuel, is appearing at retailstations of some fuel marketers. This Fuel meets detergency standards developed byfour automotive companies. A description of the concept and benefits of TOP TIER isprovided in the following question and answer section.What is TOP TIER Detergent Fuel? TOP TIER Detergent Fuel is a new classof Fuel with enhanced detergency. It meets new, voluntary deposit control standardsdeveloped by four automotive companies that exceed the detergent requirements imposedby the EPA.Who developed TOP TIER Detergent Fuel standards?TOP TIER Detergent Fuel standards were developed by four automotive companies:BMW, General Motors, Honda and Toyota.Why was TOP TIER Detergent Fuel developed?TOP TIER Detergent Fuel was developed to increase the level of detergent additivein Fuel. The EPA requires that all Fuel sold in the U.S. contain a detergentadditive. However, the requirement is minimal and in many cases, is not sufficient tokeep engines clean. In order to meet TOP TIER Detergent Fuel standards, a higherlevel of detergent is needed than what is required by the EPA. Also, TOP TIER wasdeveloped to give fuel marketers the opportunity to differentiate their product.Why did the four automotive companies join together to develop TOP TIER?All four corporations recognized the benefits to both the vehicle and the consumer. Also,joining together emphasized that low detergency is an issue of concern to severalautomotive companies.What are the benefits of TOP TIER Detergent Fuel?TOP TIER Detergent Fuel will help keep engines cleaner than Fuel containingthe “Lowest Additive Concentration” set by the EPA. Clean engines help provide optimalfuel economy and performance and reduced emissions. Also, use of TOP TIER DetergentFuel will help reduce deposit related concerns. Who should use TOP TIER Detergent Fuel?All vehicles will benefit from using TOP TIER Detergent Fuel over Fuelcontaining the “Lowest Additive Concentration” set by the EPA. Those vehicles that haveexperienced deposit related concerns may especially benefit from use of TOP TIERDetergent Fuel.Fuel Brands That Currently Meet TOP TIER Detergent Fuel StandardsAs of August 15, 2005, the following Fuel brands meet the TOP TIER DetergentFuel Standards:- Chevron Chevron has markets in 29 states in the West, Southwest and South, as well as in Alaska andHawaii. ALL grades of Chevron with Techron Fuel meet TOP TIER Detergent Fuel Standards.- QuikTrip (not to be confused with Kwik Trip) QuikTrip operates convenience stores and travel centersin a number of metropolitan areas:- Tulsa, OK- Springfield, MO- Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS- Wichita, KS- Des Moines, IA- Omaha, NE- St. Louis, MO and St. Louis, IL- Atlanta, GA- Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX- Phoenix, AZ- Bartlesville, OK- Miami, OK- Vinita, OK- Columbia, MO- Conoco has over 4,000 stations located in 33 states.- Phillips 66 has locations in 32 states across the nation.- 76 has over 2,700 stations located throughout the country.- Shell Shell Oil Products has a network of nearly 7,000 branded Fuel stations in the Western UnitedStates. Shell Oil Company markets branded products through more than 10,000 stations in the Easternand Southern United States.- Entec Stations offer Fuel through stations located in the greater Montgomery, Alabama area.- MFA Oil Company offers Fuel at “Break Time” convenience stores located throughout Missouri.- Kwik Trip, Inc. offers Fuel at Kwik Trip convenience stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin and KwikStar convenience stores in Iowa.- The Somerset Refinery, Inc. offers Fuel at Somerset Oil stations in Kentucky News source: GM Fleet