Getting Better Gas Mileage - - ABC13

Getting Better Gas Mileage

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With talk of gas approaching $4 a gallon, it's time for all of us to start thinking about getting better mileage.

So I revisited a project I tried in early 2011, to improve my personal gas mileage.

The test car was the most typical car in the Ely garage at the time.

It was a 2006 Grand Cherokee 4-by-4, with about 65,000 miles

It had a 3.7 liter 6-cylinder engine, but it's a model that isn't known for great mileage.

The EPA rated it at 15 miles per gallon in the city, 19 on the highway and 17 combined.

My daily commute is a perfect match for the combined figure.

At that time I drove from near 91-st and Harvard to KTUL on the west side.

It's about 10-miles one way, with about half the mileage on highway-75

To test my driving I drove normally for a couple of weeks.

I recorded my mileage, when there wasn't a blizzard and a lot of snow on the streets.

My initial results were even worse that I'd expected.

I only got a dismal 14.8 miles to the gallon.

That's well below the EPA's number of 17, so I resolved to get green and save some green.

I started with routine maintenance, from an oil change to tire pressure.

I got some mixed results under the hood.

My plugs passed inspection but I was badly in need of a fuel injector cleaning.

Dan Williams, of Same Day Auto Repair, says it's something that's often overlooked.

"If the injector is plugged it'll set there and drip or straight shot like a garden house.  But once you clean out, it burns more efficiently, so that spark ignites and it burns it all."

I'd always been a little skeptical about injector cleaning, but he changed my mind.

After the treatment, an engine that had been running rough, suddenly sounded like new.

With my engine humming, I resolved to change my driving.

The best example I could find, is to drive like you're riding a bike.

Riders are efficient because they pay for speed with perspiration.

They get the most out of their effort with gradual starts and they don't waste a lot of time peddling down hill.

Plus, they're willing to coast a long way to avoid coming to a dead stop at a red light.

Professor John Henshaw believes in those practices.

He commutes by bike to the University of Tulsa's School of Mechanical Engineering.

His students work on hybrids and super-mileage vehicles.

Henshaw will tell you if you want good mileage stay-off the brakes.

"When you're rolling you have energy of momentum. They call it kinetic energy and when you step on the brake you're turning that energy into heat. So it's completely wasted."   

Henshaw also says that tire inflation is the number one thing we can all do for mileage.


"If you think about if you've ever pushed a car with a dead battery how much force does it take to push that car on flat ground. That's it's rolling resistance that number goes up as goes up as the tire pressure goes down."

Studies also recommend looking at our routine trips, because eliminating left turns and stop lights pays-off.

But I found that adding a left turn, allowed me to avoid two stop lights.

When the testing was over I'd made some real progress.

After 400 miles I increased my mileage from 14.8 to 17.7 miles per gallon.

That's an increase of  19.6% and its adds-up to real savings of hundreds of dollars a year.

For that kind of money, I'm willing to slow down and do a lot of coasting up to red lights.



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