Fuel-stretch tips to maximize your dollars

There are a couple of simple things that can be done to ensure one gets the very best fuel economy and life out of any vehicle. This is an important consideration given that, according to Natural Resources Canada, the average age of the typical Canadian car is seven years old.1

It all starts with routine maintenance. Ensuring your vehicle is running at its very best not only improves efficiency, it can pay big dividends down the road.

Here are two important considerations that can maximize your fuel dollars:

1. The most overlooked factor is the effect an under-inflated tire has on fuel consumption and safety. If you doubt the extra workload this places on the engine, try pushing a car with a flat tire – it is not going anywhere quickly. To begin with, most tires lose about one psi per month naturally. Temperature also affects pressure – there’s a one-psi reduction for every 10-degree drop in temperature.2 It may not seem like much, but according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, it adds up quickly – around 4.5 billion litres of fuel are wasted each year in North America because of under-inflated tires.3

Of more concern is the increased risk of a blowout – the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) says 660 highway fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year are due to under-inflated tires.2

2. The enemy of engine efficiency is engine “gunk,” or harmful carbon deposits left behind on intake valves and fuel injectors. This gunk acts like a sponge, absorbing and trapping gasoline.

According to a recent Canadian survey conducted by Leger Marketing, 85% of mechanics responded that they believe that the top benefit of using a high-quality gasoline is optimized engine performance.

“By simply selecting a high-quality gasoline, you can cut down on the build-up of engine gunk,” agrees Jim Macias, a fuels technology manager at Shell. “Tests prove that Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines can protect your engine from gunk and can even clean up gunk left behind by lower quality gasolines. And a clean engine performs better and will help to maximize the fuel efficiency of your engine.”

There is an old adage that remains true– a gram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure. Preventative maintenance, ensuring that the tires are properly inflated and using the right gasoline will both save money and extend the life of any vehicle.

Graeme Fletcher is a licensed mechanic and automotive journalist working for Shell

Source 1: Natural Resources Canada: http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/Publications/statistics/cvs08/chapter3.cfm?attr=0

Source 2:Car Insurance: http://www.carinsurance.com/kb/content54604.aspx

Source 3:Rubber Manufacturers Association: http://www.rma.org/newsroom/release.cfm?ID=309