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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

A pro who knows-Steve Hull

Steve Hull, South Campus instructor of automotive technology.
Steve Hull, South Campus instructor of automotive technology.
Steve Hull, South Campus instructor of automotive technology.
Steve Hull, South Campus instructor of automotive technology.

Steve Hull, South Campus instructor of automotive technology, explains fuel-efficient strategies.

Q. What can students do to increase their gas mileage?
Lifestyle
Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and efficient.

Commuting with a friend or co-worker is also a great way to save on the overall fuel bill.

Distance learning (Internet-delivered courses) is a huge gas saver. You could potentially save the cost of tuition for the whole course in gas savings depending on your distance from your favorite campus.
If you have more than one vehicle, it only makes sense to drive the more fuel-efficient one.

Driving Habits
Aggressive acceleration and braking should be avoided. It takes more energy to accelerate your vehicle to speed than to maintain a set speed. Aggressive acceleration consumes more fuel than a gradual acceleration.

Lower your speed. Keep your speed to within the posted speed limit. I know this is difficult to do with DFW’s aggressive and road raging drivers, but this is a huge gas saver. It takes more fuel to cover the same distance at a high speed than at a reasonable, lower speed. This is because aerodynamic drag increases exponentially as you go faster.

Avoid excessive idling. This is difficult to do if you have to commute during rush hour. Try traveling during non-congested times.

Car Maintenance and Care
Check and maintain proper tire pressure, another huge gas saver.

Proper tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual or on a sticker located on the driver’s door pillar area. Tires that are under-inflated create a huge drag on the vehicle costing you as much as 5 percent in gas mileage as well as endangering you to a blowout and a possible collision.

Keep your vehicle maintained per your maintenance schedule outlined in your owner’s manual. If the engine is running rough or you see that dreaded “check engine” light, chances are your vehicle is not using its fuel efficiently.

Using the proper viscosity motor oil is another gas saver. Check your owner’s manual for the proper oil required. If your vehicle requires 5W-20 motor oil and you use 10W-30, you will lose some fuel economy.

Remove unnecessary weight from the vehicle. Some drivers will leave items in their trunk or passenger areas for weeks on end. Take out that 50 pound bag of fertilizer, rock collection, pile of magazines or whatever you really don’t need riding around in your mobile storage bin … oops … I meant car.

Avoid modifications to your ride. I know these oversized tires, lift kits, roof racks, spoilers and other stuff are cool looking, but you will surely lower gas mileage with these modifications.

Have a good map or GPS system so you don’t get lost during long trips. Getting lost can cost you more than a few gallons of gas on long trips.

Q. What myths about gas have been proved true or false?
The myth that you get better fuel economy with premium fuel is untrue. If the manufacturer does not require premium fuel for your vehicle, there is no additional benefit to your car or its fuel economy. Premium gasoline does not contain any extra energy. Nor does premium fuel clean the engine any better than regular fuel. Higher octane fuel is simply better antiknock properties. Most vehicles do not need premium fuel.

Q. How often should drivers fill up?
It is always best to fill the tank completely (when the nozzle shuts off the first time!). You just never know if the gas price will go up the next day, which right now it usually does.

With the newer emission systems on the vehicle nowadays, condensation (water) is not a problem like it used to be.

Q. Does maintenance of a car have anything to do with gas mileage? 
Maintenance is critical to fuel economy. Over maintaining a vehicle beyond the manufacturer’s requirements is not always necessary as this often results in little or no gain in fuel economy.

Q. Can the additives gasoline stations advertise improve the performance of your car? 
Federal law requires that ALL gasoline sold meet minimum standards when it comes to the additive packages in gasoline. The refinery/fuel companies can get into a lot trouble if the gasoline (premium or regular) does not have proper cleaners and deposit-control additives. Why pay more for an additive that you will get anyhow?

Are different oil company additives better than anyone else’s? It’s possible some are better than others at keeping the fuel system cleaner and less deposits on the engine. There is just no way to prove any of this. In my career as a mechanic, I have rarely seen problems that are a result of poor quality fuel unless there is dirt or water in the fuel.

Q. Is there any difference in gas (quality) depending on where you buy it?
Several brands of gasoline are often manufactured in the same refinery. Once again, the gasoline sold in our area has to meet stringent standards. It would be unwise for an oil company to sell a fuel that would cause any noticeable problems.

As a professional mechanic, I do not have a problem surfing for the cheaper gasoline. Keep this in mind: if you have to drive across town to save 3 cents a gallon, it isn’t worth it.

Happy Driving!

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