8 Ways to Spring Into Better Gas Mileage
Wait, what was that last one?
In case you hadn’t noticed, the average price of gas jumped from $3.49 to $3.62 in the last month, and prices are expected to hover around $3.57 a gallon throughout the summer, just one penny below last year’s average.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to use less gas and keep rising prices from eating away at your budget, starting with properly maintaining your car. And after the brutal winter we had, you car may need it more than ever.
“Many motorists don’t realize that fuel consumption is directly related to auto care and has a significant impact on how much gas you use,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, which organizes National Car Care Month every April. The organization has just published a free 60-page car care guide, which includes some great maintenance tips for maximizing fuel economy. Here are their recommendations:
1. Get a Tune-Up
Regular tune-ups, maintenance and having clean air filters will help you burn less gas, pollute less and prevent car trouble down the line. A proper tune-up can boost gas mileage by 4 percent. Changing a dirty filter can improve efficiency by 10 percent and using the oil specified for your car saves up to 2 percent. If a tune-up turns up a faulty oxygen sensor, you’ll save up to 40 percent by replacing it.
2. Check Your Tires
Tires that are not properly inflated add rolling resistance that makes the engine work harder to move the vehicle. Tires can lose pressure due to seasonal temperature changes so pressure should be checked at least monthly, including the spare. (Check your manual for optimal pressure.) Do this regularly, and you’ll save 3.3 percent.
3. Get an A/C Inspection
The A/C system should be inspected annually, during which a technician checks pressures to test operation, refrigerant charge and outlet temperatures.
4. Watch Gas Caps and Fill-Ups
Approximately 17 percent of the vehicles on the road have loose, damaged or missing gas caps, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year. Get yours checked, and when you fill up, avoid the urge to top off. It can release harmful vapors into the environment.
5. Questions to Ask Your Mechanic
Here’s what you need to ask your mechanic to make sure you’re getting maximum fuel economy:
• My car is getting lower gas mileage than normal. Does this mean there’s a problem?
• How often should my car have a tune-up?
• What components will you be inspecting and/or replacing as part of my tune-up?
• Are my tires properly inflated and is there enough tread for safe/effective performance?
On the Road
Besides keeping your tires properly inflated, there are several things you can do to maximize fuel economy between tune-ups:
6. Drive Green
Driving technique has a lot to do with your fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Jerky and aggressive driving decreases your miles per gallon (MPG) and increases wear and tear on your vehicle. Turn your car off instead of idling when you’ll be parked safely for more than 10 seconds. Also, drive wise and minimize unnecessary miles by doing errands in one trip, getting good directions and calling ahead.
7. Lighten the Load
Get your stuff out of your car and junk out of the trunk. This does not mean that you should not keep important emergency items such as a spare tire, flares and a first-aid kit. However, items that are not needed weigh the vehicle down—causing an increase in gas usage and unneeded wear and tear on a vehicle.
8. Keep Your Cool
Use the windows to help keep the car cool as much as possible when not on the highway. Park in the shade and use a reflective windshield shade when parked—it will take less gas to cool it off when you get back in.
April is National Car Care Month, and free vehicle inspections are happening all around the country. Find a free car care clinic or vehicle inspection event near you on the Car Care Council’s Event Finder to learn more about taking care of your car.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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