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October 21, 2014

Keep Rolling (and Save Some Gas!)

Dear Bree,

It seems like every time I fill up my car, the price of gas has gone up!  I’ve got some holiday, road-tripping time coming up fast, and I’m thinking that I need to look twice at my gas budget.:(  Got any tire tips to help me save at the pump?

Saving in New Smyrna


Dear Saving,

It seems like the holidays are coming on a freight train, doesn’t it?  How did it get so late in the year already?  I suspect that lots of folks are planning their holiday road trips right about now, so your question is a great one; and yes, there are, indeed, some ways to improve your gas mileage and save some cash just by taking care of your tires and wheels.

It seems like every week I sing the virtues of proper tire inflation, but I’m going to do it again, anyway.  When your tires are properly inflated (check your owner’s manual or the inside panel of the driver’s door for the ideal pressure for your vehicle’s tires), there is less rolling resistance and less drag on the engine.  When the pressure is low, there’s more rubber meeting the road, and the rolling resistance goes up, lowering your gas mileage by about 0.4% for every 1 psi drop in pressure.  According to the Department of Energy, 1.25 billion gallons of gas are wasted each year due to under-inflated tires.  It might make sense that having a higher pressure (with a smaller strip of rubber down the center of the tire) meeting the road would improve your gas mileage, but that’s not true.  It doesn’t seem to affect the gas mileage at all, but it will affect the life of your tire by making them wear unevenly.  Short story: Inflate your tires to the recommended level and save some gas and the life of your tires. And if you want to keep your tire pressure more constant, talk to us about nitrogen fill! For just a $20 dollar investment at RNR, your tires can run 95% nitrogen, which has proven to drastically improve constant air pressure, saving gas and increasing tire life by as much as 25%.  Ask an RNR associate about nitrogen fill, and they can get you all set up!

As far as your wheels go, have the alignment checked.  If your alignment is off, your tires will be dragging instead of rolling–and that’s not good for your tires or your fuel efficiency.  If your wheels aren’t properly aligned, your fuel efficiency can be reduced by as much as 10%!  That’s an ouch at the pump!  If your tires are out of balance, your fuel efficiency decreases, as well.  Unbalanced tires cause uneven wear, and in turn, lower gas mileage.

Outside of good tire and wheel maintenance, here are a few more tips to save some gas:

  1. Slow down.  Gas mileage decreases over 60 mph.
  2. Pack light.  An extra 100 pounds can reduce your gas mileage by up to 2%.
  3. Change your spark plugs. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence says that bad spark plugs can decrease your fuel efficiency by up to 30%!
  4. Don’t drive like a maniac.  Or a race car driver.  Speeding, braking and rapid acceleration all decrease your gas mileage, so stow your inner Mario Andretti (and your road-raging beast!).
  5. Fill up the tank in the morning or at night.  Since fuel is dispensed by volume, if you fill your tank when it’s cooler outside (instead of the heat of the day), the fuel will be more dense, and you’ll get more gas for your money.

Hope you have a fabulous, road-tripping holiday, Saving! Stay safe!



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