Fuel economy – some tips and tricks

With the cost of gasoline rising steadily, it pays to review some basic habits in our search for peak fuel economy.

Tire pressure has a large effect on fuel consumption. A lower pressure may give you a softer ride but it will cost you in increased fuel bills. Adjust the pressure to the recommended level as shown on the door sticker. Tire pressure is very often overlooked so have your service technician check it out.

Some drivers like to throw bags of salt into the trunk for “ballast”. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle this may add some traction in the snow, however, it also adds to the total vehicle weight that needs to be repeatedly accelerated as well as stopped in the normal course of driving. The extra weight makes it harder to stop a vehicle, especially on slippery surfaces. Also, having to accelerate with the additional “baggage” means burning more fuel. I guess that moderation is the key here.

Throttle control is a key factor in fuel consumption. Maintaining a steady speed and avoiding hard acceleration and braking will go a long way to extend your driving range on a tankfull of gas. Another benefit of gentler driving is the reduced wear and tear of the braking system.

Even a 5% improvement in fuel consumption will add up to many dollars in your pocket over the years. For more information, get in touch with us today.

So what does ABS really stand for?

If you were to ask a motorist what the term “ABS” stands for, he would likely reply “Anti-lock Braking System”. While this is technically correct, a more accurate response would be “Anti-lock Braking Steering control”.

Let’s look into this a little deeper. We all know what ABS does; as the driver presses the brake pedal, the ABS monitors each individual wheel’s speed. Should one or more wheels drop in RPM more than anticipated, the ABS controller assumes that those wheels are skidding, and will promptly command a hydraulic unit to reduce the applied brake pressure to the appropriate wheels. This allows the tires to regain traction and grip the road surface once again. This process repeats itself very rapidly – thus the vibration feedback felt in the brake pedal. On most surfaces, this process allows the tire to be on the verge of lock up so that braking effort is maximized. However, on ice, a locked up wheel is likely to require a shorter distance to come to a stop than a pulsating, ABS modulated wheel. So why have ABS?

The tires on a car perform three functions other than carrying the vehicle’s weight. They accelerate, brake as well as steer it. But a tire will steer and maintain directional stability only while it is rotating. A locked wheel becomes nothing more than a patch of rubber on the road with no lateral control whatsoever. That is usually why drivers without ABS who slam on their brake pedal in a panic situation lock their wheels, slide forward, and may hit whatever is front of them. Turning the steering wheel does nothing as the front wheels cannot provide steering while locked up. However, with ABS, no matter how hard the driver might press on the brake pedal, the wheels keep on turning, allowing the driver to steer his way out of a dangerous situation while braking at the same time.

Although ABS contributes to safety, it is no substitute for a sensible, defensive style of driving. Always adjust your speed to match the road conditions.

Drive safely!

Is Premium Fuel Really Necessary?

I have a Mazda CX-7 and it requires premium gas – is it necessary all the time? Or what are the consequences if it was bought used and it wasn’t put premium all the time?

Mazda CX-7s are mostly equipped with a turbo-charged engine.

This family of engines, develops more horsepower than a comparable, naturally aspirated engine and it does so by raising the volume of air in the cylinder. The higher pressures and temperatures that result, produce the extra power. However, as temperatures rise, the mixture can self-ignite with the familiar “pinging” sound. This spontaneous combustion can cause severe mechanical damage to the engine. Premium fuel has a higher octane ratings which allow higher temperatures (and thus more power) without the dreaded knocking and consequential damages.

As protection, manufacturers have added a device called a Knock Sensor to monitor the undesirable engine knock and allow the engine computer to retard the spark timing when pinging is detected. Retarding the spark while saving the engine, has a negative impact on engine performance and fuel consumption efficiency.

Ultimately, the verdict of which fuel to use can be found in the owner’s manual. If it says “Premium fuel is recommended” then that is the correct choice. It might hurt to pay $1.42 per litre but you will get most of it back in improved fuel mileage.

Is freon gone?

As you might know, freon, or R12 refrigerant is quickly fading into history.

It has been identified as an “Ozone depleting substance” and as such is no longer being produced. This reduction in supply has led to skyrocketing prices. In addition, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has banned the use of R12 starting January, 2002. Since 1994, all car makers have switched to a supposedly ozone-friendly refrigerant called R134A.

Although there are several other refrigerants being marketed as direct replacements for R12, we prefer to retro-fit older vehicles to the new R134A. The conversion costs less than $100 and allows the use of an accepted, approved and inexpensive refrigerant. Although the performance of a retro-fitted system can be reduced by up to 10%, it is rarely felt by the driver. For the special cases where R134A is not compatible with a specific car, we have other refrigerants that will do an adequate job while complying with the Ministry’s requirements.

We can evaluate all the options for your vehicle and recommend the best way to get you back on the road in cool and comfy style.