Mechanic gives tips on how to improve fuel efficiency as gas prices soar

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 7:04 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With gas prices climbing higher and higher, it’s safe to say we’re going to be in this for a while longer. Richmond’s average alone went up 11 cents overnight, hitting a new record high of $4.76 a gallon. Many gas stations across Richmond and Chesterfield saw unleaded gas prices reach as much as $4.89 per gallon.

For some, dealing with the soaring prices means putting less in the tank.

“I didn’t realize gas had gone up to $4.89,” said one customer filling up at a Wawa gas station. “I’m looking at what I currently put in, and only five gallons - that’s not going to get me very far. I’m half empty right now.”

“You don’t have much choice, right? You pay it, or you don’t drive,” another customer said. “I’m not feeling this any different than I’ve felt any other increase. Every summer, the price of gas goes up.”

Before gas becomes gas, it starts as crude oil, and the cost of a barrel usually determines about 60 percent of the amount you pay for a gallon of gas. Next comes how the gas is distributed, making up 12 percent.

Trucks take gas to the stations, and because of high diesel prices to power those trucks, it costs more to have that gas brought around town. Federal and state taxes combined are the final 10 percent.

For months now, everything from how crude oil is refined to the distribution and inflation is driving costs up at every step of the process. Worldwide impacts from the war in Ukraine and the impacts of hurricane season on oil refineries only exacerbate the problem.

But Billy Allen with Allen Tire on Forest Hill Avenue says it’s not too late to get the most out of your mileage.

“Just being conscious of how you drive the vehicle can make a big difference,” Allen said.

Allen says the best way to improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle is to have it properly and regularly maintained.

“Checking your car’s air filter, making sure the spark plugs are done when they’re supposed to be, cleaning your fuel system periodically, all of those things can really equal a lot more fuel mileage - especially if you’re one of those people that’s not the greatest about maintaining your car,” Allen said. “Just a little attention at your local shop can really help at the pump.”

Simple things like keeping sufficient air pressure in your tires can also reduce fuel consumption.

Removing excess weight from your vehicle and removing accessories like bike racks can reduce drag and keep your car from working hard when on the road.

Allen says it’s also beneficial to rely on the forward momentum of your car to make gradual stops rather than slamming on your breaks as you approach red lights and stop signs. Accelerating gradually will also improve your vehicle’s performance.

Allen says to make sure to take advantage of gas station perks.

“We’re seeing those prices jump every week, so if you can get in this week at $5 a gallon and next week it’s $5.50 a gallon, then you just saved 50 cents a gallon that week,” Allen said.

While driving around with half a tank of gas could also reduce the weight of your vehicle, you also run the risk of having to fill up more often and having more sediment build up in your fuel tank. That can reduce fuel performance over time.

Allen says relying on public transportation and carpooling are also good methods to keep from going to the gas station as often.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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