Relief From Gas Prices

It might seem like a silly idea to spend money to save money, but with the price of gas on a steady rise, consumers might find that to be an attractive parlay. As we have reported here at Driving Today, the cost of everyday vehicle use is higher than ever before, and while gas prices may not be on the decline any time soon, there are some ways consumers can save money at the pump.

“Most people focus only on the price of gas, but there are some low-cost parts that consumers can replace on their own, or have an automotive technician replace, that can save them substantially,” says Bob Arlotta, NAPA Technician of the Year.

While spending more money on your vehicle might not be the most palatable idea, auto experts say focusing on five areas can help improve your fuel mileage and save money in the long run. They are:

Air filters
An air filter clogged with dirt, dust or even insects chokes off the air that is a key part of efficient combustion. It creates a rich fuel-air mixture, and though that doesn’t have that name because you must be rich to pay for it, it is apropos. In a rich mixture, too much gasoline is being burned in proportion to the oxygen necessary. This wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. A clean air filter, which costs just a few dollars, can offer potential savings of up to 33 cents a gallon.

Oxygen sensors
Oxygen sensors that are properly functioning are good for the environment and can save hundreds of dollars in fuel costs over the life of the car. Replacement intervals for oxygen sensors are similar to those for spark plugs, ranging from 30,000 miles to 100,000 miles, depending on the type of sensor. The potential savings offered by equipping your car with a functioning oxygen sensor is up to $1.33 a gallon.

Properly inflated tires
When tires aren’t inflated properly, it’s like driving with the parking brake on. Underinflated tires can cut fuel economy by two percent per pound, which means if your tire pressure is 27 pounds per square inch (psi) when it should be 32 psi, you’ve reduced your gas mileage by 10 percent. A simple tire gauge can quickly tell you if you’re wasting gas because of underinflated tires. The potential savings of properly inflated tires -- something that essentially costs you nothing -- are up to 10 cents a gallon.

Oil and filter change
Clean oil reduces friction between moving parts in your engine, increasing fuel economy and reliability. It also removes harmful deposits, extending the life of your engine. You should check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended oil and filter change schedule. The potential savings to be derived from clean oil and a properly functioning oil filter is up to seven cents a gallon.

Locking gas caps
These devices can contribute to fuel economy by preventing theft. Gas caps are available that include a dual breakaway feature and reinforcing ring that help deter thieves trying to steal fuel. If someone tries to pry off the cap, the top of the cap will break away, leaving the cap neck in the tank. This will deter even the most determined thieves who are unlikely to take the time needed to pry the neck from the tank. Caps are also available that lock into the neck automatically, which save motorists time. The potential savings vary

“Recognizing that gas prices most likely won’t be coming down for a while, it’s important to realize the money consumers can save by investing a small amount in the maintenance of their vehicle,” said NAPA’s Arlotta. “For a small investment now, consumers can ensure they’re getting more out of the gas mileage, potentially adding up to substantial savings in the long run.”