Weekly auto rail, with gas-saving tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.

Tip of the Week


While buying a more fuel-efficient car might be an option for some, new and used cars that get more miles per gallon tend to be more in demand - and more expensive - when gas prices are high. If a new car isn't an option for you, implementing the following changes can help ensure that you get the most from the fuel in your gas tank:


- Keep the gas you buy in your car. When gas prices are low, stealing gas would likely be more trouble than it's worth, but when prices are high, it's not uncommon for thieves to siphon gas from vehicles, especially those with larger tanks. Adding a locking gas cap can be done for much less than the cost of a tank of gas.


- Keep your tank full. While you're looking to reduce the amount of gasoline you are using, constantly running your car with the tank close to empty can wear down your fuel pump. "The gasoline in the tank keeps the fuel pump cool. Take away the gas and the fuel pump runs hot and has a shorter life," says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of RockAuto.com. If you have an older car that has accumulated dirt and rust at the bottom of the tank, keeping a full tank can help your fuel burn cleaner.


- Keep your car in shape. Keeping your engine properly tuned improves fuel efficiency by an average of 4 percent, and repairing a major issue like a faulty oxygen sensor could improve efficiency by up to 40 percent, according the U.S. Department of Energy.


- Keep your tires inflated properly. Keeping your tires at the optimal level not only keeps you safer, but can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent, according to the Department of Energy. Your owner's manual should tell you the proper psi (pounds per square inch) levels for your vehicle.


- Drive for optimal gas mileage. How you drive can affect how much gas you use. Most cars run at peak efficiency at around 60 mph, with fuel economy decreasing sharply when traveling faster. Aggressive driving with rapid acceleration and slowing will also have a negative effect on your fuel economy.


- ARA


The List


According to CNNMoney, here are 10 cars you don’t want to own during a gas crisis:


Chevrolet Corvette ZR1


Chevrolet Suburban


Ford F-150


Land Rover Range Rover


Jeep Grand Cherokee


Ford Mustang Shelby GT500


Maserati Quattroporte


BMW M5


Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG


Jeep Wrangler Unlimited


Did You Know


Chrysler announced that it will certify all its used vehicles, not just those that are Chryslers. The move is a first for the auto industry.


Car Q&A


Q: I have a 2000 GMC 5LT with a small V-8 vortex engine. It starts great when it is cold. But after it warms up, it’s hard to start. I churn and churn and then it starts, but the engine shakes and sometimes stalls. Had it tuned up, fuel filter, new wires and plugs, cleaned throttle body and injectors, but it did not help. It has about 113,035 miles. If I let it idle for a long time the “service engine soon” light comes on. Can you help?


A: The problem sounds fuel related, not spark. The good thing is the check-engine light does come on and sets a fault code. A simple fuel-pressure test and professional scan tool will help us greatly. While trying to start the engine, monitoring all related sensors will point us in the right direction. I have even seen a small air leak at the fuel filter cause starting problems with out leaking gas.


- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist


GateHouse News Service