Memorial Day is a time to unite, a time to remember, a time to honor and give respect to those who gave their lives for their country. It’s also the first public holiday as the summer comes closer and temperatures rise. This makes it all the more tempting to get out on the roads for a long weekend. Timing the price hikes to perfection, the gas retailers have been posting increases. Nationally, the average price has risen 7c on the week with the price of a gallon of regular now $3.67. Looking around the country, the state leading the upward charge is Minnesota which sees the price per gallon of regular at an average of $4.28. There have been unexpected outages at local refineries and all the Midwestern states are seeing shortages and higher prices. For many drivers, these increases are going to bring additional hardships. So what, if anything, can you do to save on gas costs?
The good news is that it’s a lot easier than it used to be to get your car ready for the summer. In the “old days”, you were told to adjust the timing, change the plugs and rotor, and so on. Now even leaving the antifreeze in place is alright for two years for the green variety, five years for the orange. So here’s a quick checklist of what to do before you set out. Start with the tires. Having the right pressure front and back gives you the best handling and better mileage. The biggest cause of breakdowns once the weather warms up is problems with the cooling and air-conditioning systems. Clean out anything that might slow down the flow of air around the radiator and condenser. You get better fuel economy if you drive without the air-conditioning on long journeys, particularly when not on a highway. Is the rubber around the radiator cap still giving a good seal?
Does your oil need changing? You should be checking the level monthly and changing on a regular basis if you make a heavy use of your vehicle. Then think about all your electrical systems. Many states use a lot of salt to prevent icing. This can quickly cause corrosion. If you are proposing a long trip, let a mechanic put your vehicle on a ramp and check there’s no leaks, the belts are tight and the brakes working within specification. Finally, when it comes to parking, try to keep your vehicle out of the sun. Even if the gas cap is a tight fit, you can still lose gas through evaporation if your tank gets too hot.