Gas Saving Myths: Do Over Inflated Tires Really Boost Gas Mileage?

You are probably aware that driving with under-inflated tires will negatively impact your car’s gas mileage. Since under-inflated tires cause drag, they ultimately require more horsepower. The end result is that the car uses more gas per mile.

What about over inflating your tires? Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that if under-inflated tires reduce gas mileage, over-inflated tires should improve it. Is there any truth behind this thinking?

Debunking the Myth

The logic behind the myth actually makes sense. Over inflating your tires means that they will bulge slightly in the center. Less surface area making contact with the road should mean less rolling resistance. With decreased rolling resistance and friction, your car’s gas mileage should respond in a positive way, right?

The answer is slightly more complex than you would expect. The truth is that your car was built with aerodynamics in mind. This basically means that at highway speeds, your vehicle is already near its maximum fuel economy. Any small changes you make to your tires will be virtually undetectable.

Yes, over inflating your tires can decrease your car’s rolling resistance. However, it will probably not provide you with the monumental gas saving results you were hoping for. In fact, over inflating your car’s tires can actually be dangerous. When tires are over inflated, the steering becomes compromised and limited. The end result being that you are more prone to end up in an accident.

The best gas saving and safety advice is to follow the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. Get in the habit of regularly checking the PSI of your tires. With the proper maintenance, you can ensure that your vehicle continues to run at its optimal performance.


Gas Saving Myths: Can Fuel Additives Really Boost My Gas Mileage?

It should come as no surprise, but there seems to be a correlation between rising gas prices and the number of available gas saving products. As gas prices rise, more and more manufacturers are rushing gimmicks to the marketplace, all claiming to have the best new product that will increase gas mileage and improve performance. 

Leading this wave of new gas saving products are fuel additives. These easy-to-use, low cost products make bold statements about improving a car’s fuel economy and reducing exhaust emissions. As consumers become desperate for solutions that will help them save at the pump, they are looking to these hassle-free solutions for results.

The question then becomes: Do fuel additives really make a difference? Will they help boost gas mileage?

Beware of Bold Claims

In short, the answer is no. According to a number of consumer reports, as well as the FTC, the chance of a fuel additive improving a car’s performance and increasing gas mileage is unlikely. Yes, a few products may have some impact, but the effects will be so minimal, most drivers will never notice a difference. 

If you have a healthy vehicle, there simply is no additive that can help you save on gas. And if you drive an underperforming car, a fuel additive will not suddenly make your engine become more powerful and efficient. 

In the end, there are a few steps you can take to improve gas mileage. Unfortunately, you will probably not find the answer in a box on a shelf. Instead look to increase your car’s gas mileage with fuel saving techniques such as:

  • Getting a tune up
  • Regularly changing your oil and filter
  • Keeping your tires properly inflated
  • Shopping for the best gas prices
  • Adjusting your commute times

Boosting your gas mileage has more to do with investing in your car’s maintenance than a magic elixir. By focusing on proven vehicle performance and gas saving measures, you can start saving money and extending the life of your car. 


How Traffic Cameras Work

Out of the thousands of traffic accidents that take place in the United States every year, nearly twenty-two percent are the result of traffic light infractions. To combat this epidemic and increase public safety, law enforcement agencies across the country have begun to install traffic cameras at some of the most dangerous intersections.

While these cameras seem simple enough – a driver runs a red light and a camera snaps a picture of the license plate – the technology used is actually quite complex.

Red-light cameras are composed of four main parts:

  • A series of sensors or triggers
  • Multiple cameras
  • A network of computers
  • A human review

The purpose of the trigger is to sense the movement of a car as it runs a red light. Placed somewhere at a particular point in the road, these sensors use electrical impulses to create a magnetic field. When a car enters this field, it causes a disturbance.

The computer takes over at this point. Using a series of mathematical formulas, it calculates the position of the vehicle traveling through the magnetic field. The computer is also able to sense the rate at which the vehicle is moving. If it is determined that a traffic violation is about to occur, the computer sends a message to the red-light camera, instructing it to begin snapping pictures.

At this point, the camera will record at least two photographs. The first one being a picture of the car as it enters the intersection when the light is red. The second one is a picture of the car exiting the intersection when the light is still red.

Finally, before the ticket can be issued, each alleged violation is reviewed by a third party. Many states and cities employ an outside company to review and handle these alleged traffic camera violations. If the citation proves to be valid, a ticket will be issued within one to two months.


How Much Insurance Should You Get on Your Used Car?

Buying insurance for your used car can be tricky. Not only do you need to be sure to follow your state’s minimum coverage requirements, you also need to keep your eye on price, value and affordability. Yes, you want to protect yourself, but you want to do so at a price you can afford.

When shopping for insurance on your used car, consider the following areas.

  • Liability: Each state has a minimum set of guidelines for the minimum amount of insurance necessary to legally drive. This coverage is what is commonly referred to as liability insurance. In the most basic sense, liability insurance will cover damage you do to other people, their vehicles or their property. Liability is typically the least expensive insurance available and is usually an acceptable choice for inexpensive used cars that are only expected to last a few more years.
  • Collision: A step above liability is collision insurance. In addition to providing liability protection, collision will cover damage done to your used car when it is in an accident, nothing more. If offered by your insurance company, this option offers more protection than liability, but at a lower rate than comprehensive insurance. Depending on your risk tolerance and your car’s value, collision may be the best fit for your price range.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive basically covers everything else. This can include theft, fire, vandalism and weather damage. Insurance policies that provide comprehensive coverage also generally provide collision and liability. While a comprehensive policy will be your most expensive choice, it is a good option when looking to maximize protection on your used car. If you’ve invested a lot into your used vehicle, comprehensive is probably your best choice.

Choosing liability, collision, and comprehensive options are not the only determining factors that drive price. Your insurance deductible will also affect your policy’s premium. By choosing to pay higher deductibles, you will lower your insurance policy’s premium.

The good news is that insurance for a used car often costs less than a new car policy. This is because the overall value of the used car is worth less than a new car. So instead of having to foot a costly repair bill, the insurance company only has to offer what the car is worth.

When choosing insurance, your car’s value should be the biggest determining factor. If the cost you would spend on insurance premiums would outweigh the value of your vehicle, consider less expensive insurance options.


Ethanol in Gasoline

You might have heard a lot of talk about ethanol in gasoline lately and are wondering what the real deal is. Is it safe for your car? How about for the environment?

When the U.S. government issued amendments to the Clean Air Act in the 1990s, one requirement included the use of oxygenated gasoline that would help fuel burn off more completely in combustion. A favored oxygenate, MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether), was used until it started showing up in high concentrations in drinking water in 1995 due to spilled gasoline and leaky containers underground.

That’s when ethanol came in. Ethanol, an alcohol made from crops, was widely viewed as a safer substitute to MTBE. Today, most regular gasoline has at least a trace of ethanol in it.

If some are to be believed, ethanol-gasoline mixtures can negatively impact both vehicles and the environment. But is this really something to worry about? Since there are always two sides to a story, this post will explain both so you know enough about the issue to make your call.

The Don’t-Sweat-Its

This side will tell you that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to ethanol in gasoline. Many vehicles today are capable of running on 10 percent ethanol (E10), and car computer systems are sophisticated enough to monitor and regulate engines and exhaust levels. Even older vehicles are generally safe with low ethanol concentrations—at most, a carburetor in a 1980s model may need to be looked at to run on oxygenated fuels successfully.

The Don’t-Sweat-Its also argue that E10 blends aren’t going to cause significant damage to the environment. Since ethanol in gasoline allows fuel to burn more completely, cleaner emissions are produced, and these benefit air quality more than straight gasoline emissions would.

The Protestors

The other side argues that there are many problems related to ethanol in gasoline, especially when fuel blends contain more than 10 percent alcohol. The Protestors cite studies from years back that prove that too much alcohol in a standard engine will damage its parts and poorly affect its performance. Classic cars and pre-1980s engines can be at high risk for damage unless they are modified to be compatible with higher ethanol fuel blends. Miles per gallon studies were also conducted, and several found that MPGs decreased with E10. Moreover, this side says that consumers are often ill-informed of these dangers by the companies that profit from gasoline sales.

No matter what side you’re on, you should know some of the facts and history dealing with ethanol in gasoline so that you’re prepared to make an informed decision the next time you’re at the pump.