Good driving habits and basic vehicle maintenance can help keep you safe and on the road all summer long. In the summer months, gas prices often rise with the temperature. The heat can be extremely hard on your vehicle and your wallet.
“A driver’s goal should be to reach their destination safely and securely,” says Bryan Gregory, director of consumer education for Advance Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP). “With the summer season, come the extremes of heat combined with stop and go traffic and longer trips. Just as you would apply sunscreen at the beach, you should also make sure your vehicle is prepared for the conditions that you will be traveling in.”
Gregory recommends taking a few minutes to check your vehicle from bumper to bumper, beginning with a quick peek under the hood. You can start by checking your headlights, be sure high and low beams are working properly and aimed correctly; air conditioning, check the drive belt and add refrigerant if necessary; change oil if it’s been at least 3,000 miles since last change, change oil filter, and check coolant (antifreeze) level. Next, check your belts for severe wear, fraying, or shiny burnished spots, replace if necessary. Check hoses for swelling and cracking. Check hose clamps for snug, and check the battery to make sure it is clamped down firmly and clean terminals. If you need help, you can stop at any Advance Auto Parts store to receive a free battery and charging system check up. Finally, inspect your tires by placing a penny head first into the tread; the tread should cover the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head. Check outside tread, middle tread, and inside tread depth. Replace worn tires, they have direct impact on your stopping and turning ability.
In order to be prepared for an unexpected break down, every vehicle should contain an emergency kit. “This kit should include items such as bottled water, non-perishable snacks, basic hand tools, a flashlight and flares,” says Gregory, “and if you have children, a source of entertainment that does not require power from the vehicle is a plus.”
Other quick preparations for any trip include wiping down all mirrors and making sure all windows are clean. You should also make sure to secure all luggage, as it could become airborne and cause severe injuries in severe braking. And don’t forget to check all your wiper blades in case of a sudden rain shower, many people forget about the rear wiper on min-vans and SUV’s.
Here are some fuel saving tips from Advance Auto Parts so you can spend less time at the pump and more time on the road:
Change your air filter regularly: Your engine needs to breathe to create maximum power and efficiency. You should replace your air filter every 7,500 miles unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer.
Proper tire pressure is the next largest influence on fuel mileage. Check the drivers’ side door post to see exactly what the tire pressure should be, then check all four tires weekly for best results. Tires that are under inflated create dramatically more rolling resistance.
Use synthetic oil. Synthetic oil reduces internal engine friction, lubricate better, and reduce engine operating temperatures, all creating a more efficient power process and helping with fuel mileage
“You definitely want to avoid idling when possible because you get zero miles to the gallon when sitting still,” Gregory said. “Also, be sensible about how long you warm up the car. For most cars and trucks, 30 to 45 seconds of warm-up time is sufficient.”
Reducing a vehicle’s load by eliminating excess cargo, such as extra tires, equipment, bike or ski racks, saves gas also because for every 200 pounds of extra weight in a vehicle, fuel mileage is reduced by one mile per gallon.
Keep fuel injectors clean by using an injector cleaner once or twice a year. When the fuel injector nozzle gets debris and buildup on it, it doesn’t spray the fuel charge as it was designed to. A simple injector cleaner added to the fuel tank a few times each year can help keep the injectors clean and efficient.
Be sure your vehicle is in alignment. If it pulls to the right or to the left, it likely needs an alignment, or possibly some suspension work. When all four wheels are traveling down the road out of alignment, rolling resistance is created, not to mention rapid tire wear. Once the vehicle tracking is straight, it will help protect your investment, enhance safety, and improve fuel mileage.
Advance Auto Parts and its well-trained, knowledgeable Team Members can help customers with all of the parts and products needed to perform gas-saving do-it-yourself projects. ASE-certified experts and the Company’s consumer education program, featuring a “How To Save Gas” video clinic, and many more, can be found at www.AdvanceAutoParts.com. Click on the “Know-How” section of the website to view any of the free video clinics that will help you maintain your vehicle and save money doing so.
About Advance Auto Parts
Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets As of April 25, 2009, the Company operated 3,405 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Advance Auto Parts supports a variety of non-profit organizations at the corporate and local levels and encourages its Team Members to become actively involved in various community-based charitable organizations. Nationally, Advance Auto Parts is a strong supporter of United Way and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Since 1994, Advance Auto Parts has raised more than $16 million for JDRF and is one of that organization’s largest corporate supporters.
Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and on line inventory look-up for parts and accessories can be found on the Company’s web site at www.AdvanceAutoParts.com.
Shelly Whitaker, APR