The key to keeping vehicles running well today and down the road is routine maintenance. Yet many
drivers tend to stall when it comes to keeping up with some everyday auto basics. A recent survey by
the Car Care Council found:
- 38 percent of cars had low or dirty engine oil.
- 54 percent had low tire pressure.
- 28 percent had inadequate cooling protection.
- 19 percent needed new belts.
- 16 percent had dirty air filters.
- 10 percent had low or contaminated brake fluid.
It doesn't matter if the car you're driving is new or old, big or small. There are preventive maintenance
steps every vehicle owner can take to make sure their car is as "green" or environmentally friendly as
possible, according to the Car Care Council.
By following five simple preventive maintenance steps, you can help protect the environment by
improving gas mileage, which in turn saves money at the pump.
- Keep your car properly tuned for optimum performance. A well-tuned engine delivers the best
balance of power and fuel economy and produces the lowest level of emissions. A tune-up can
improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such
as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve gas mileage by as much as 40 percent.
- Regularly check and replace dirty air filters. An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs
chokes off the air and creates a "rich" mixture - too much gas being burned for the amount of
air - that wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can
improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 15 cents a gallon.
- Have spark plugs checked and replaced if necessary. A vehicle can have four, six or eight
spark plugs, which fire as many as three million times every 1,000 miles. This results in a lot of
heat, electrical, and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug also causes misfiring, which wastes
- Maintain the cooling system. A cooling system thermostat that causes the engine to run too
cold will lower the fuel efficiency of a car by as much as one or two mpg. There also are
improved radiator caps on the market today that allow the cooling system to operate at a higher
temperature before boiling over, increasing the system's efficiency and reducing emissions.
- Maintain and repair your car as outlined in the council’s Car Care Guide. The guide helps
drivers understand their car, the care it needs, and when it needs it and why. Single copies of
the free guide may be ordered on the Car Care Council Web site, www.carcare.org.
In addition to proper vehicle maintenance, vehicles can be more fuel-efficient if tires are properly
inflated and if drivers observe the speed limit, avoid aggressive driving and excessive idling, and
adhere to an errand list to eliminate extra trips to the store for forgotten items.
(Information courtesy of the Car Care Council Web Site)