BETTER GAS MILEAGE, but no miracles

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Filling up at the gas station is getting more painful every day, thanks to prices that keep rising.
A gallon of regular gas in Mississippi averaged $3.41 last week, up 46 cents from a month ago, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge.
The price of gas is up 75 cents from a year ago, AAA added.
Using those numbers, filling up a 15-gallon tank will cost more than $50.
So how do you ease the pain of filling up your vehicle?
“Don’t drive it,” joked Jeff Robertson, owner of Tom’s Automotive Service. “Get on your bicycle.”
Another option is buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
However, mechanics say there are ways to get better mileage out of your current vehicle.
But don’t expect miracles.
A new car may be rated as getting 30 or 32 miles per gallon.
“As it gets worn, it’s real hard to get back to that,” said John Tigner, the mechanic at Xpress Lube’s Xpress Service Center on North Gloster Street. “You may get 28 (mpg). Personally, I don’t know of anything that would pick up 5 to 10 miles a gallon” by itself.
Yet there are things you can do that might gain you a mile or two per gallon. Here are some recommendations from Robertson, Tigner and nonprofit group, Money Management International, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
• Remove extra weight from the vehicle. Heavy speakers or extra stuff in the trunk makes your vehicle heavier, thus making you use more gas.
* Cost: Your time and energy. Payoff: An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mpg by up to 2 percent.
• Make sure the air filter is clean.
* Cost: $15 – $20 to get a new one. Payoff: Less than 1 mpg.
• Make sure the tires are properly inflated with air or nitrogen.
* Cost: 75 cents to $20. Payoff: 1 mpg or up to 3 percent increase in mpg.
• Run a fuel injection cleaner or get a fuel cleaning process done.
* Cost: $3 to $60.
• Have a clean fuel filter. Some vehicles have them, and others don’t.
• Change the oil regularly. Make sure you are running the correct weight. Thicker oil than you need will cost you in mpg.
* Cost: $20 to $60.
• Check the manual for what octane gas the vehicle uses. Tigner said he switched from regular to premium and saw an increase of three to four mpg with his vehicle.
• Fill up with ethanol-free gas when possible. Robertson said his shop fixes a lot of problems related to ethanol in gas. Plus, he’s seen a drop in mpg since the ethanol was added at the majority of gas stations.
• Get a tuneup. Change the spark plugs.
• Check tire alignment. This will help with handling and mileage.
* Cost: $20-$60.
• Plan trips in advance. Consolidate the number of trips you have to take. Carpool when possible.
• Keep vehicle below 2,500 rpm on the highway or between 60 and 65 mph. Exceeding the speed limit by 5 mph can result in an average fuel economy loss of 6 percent.
• Avoid stop-and-go traffic. Constant accelerating and braking can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent when driving at highway speeds and by 5 percent when cruising around town.
* Payoff: 7 percent to 23 percent better mpg.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@journalinc.com.