(BPT) - On any given day, some 40 million Americans stop at gas stations to fill their tanks. For many, it's a weekly routine, one they don't spend much time analyzing, but are there things you think you know about your fill-up that just aren't true?
Andrea Kaufman considers herself a fairly conscientious auto owner, but the St. Louis Park, Minnesota resident admits she doesn't know the finer details of pumping protocol. "I've heard plenty of gas station tips and tricks, but I'm not always sure which ones I should believe."
Let's set the record straight as energy experts dispel three common gas station myths.
Myth #1: It's best to buy gas early in the day.
The theory is that gasoline is denser at cooler temperatures, so you'll get more fuel per gallon early in the morning. While the basic science is correct, the experts at Consumer Reports point out two practical reasons why this is a myth.
First, most gas stations store fuel in double-walled underground tanks that keep gas at steady temperatures. Second, even if there were variations, the volume difference between gasoline at 75 versus 60 degrees Fahrenheit is just 1 percent - not enough to be noticeable at the pump.
Myth #2: It's dangerous to use a cell phone near gas pumps.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, there is no documented incident of a wireless phone causing a gas station fire or explosion.
It's true that many fuel companies post stickers on pumps warning motorists to turn off phones while refueling as cell phones could be a distraction. But the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) reports the most likely cause of fire at the pumps is static electricity created by drivers sliding in and out of vehicles. For safe refueling, PEI recommends you turn off the car engine, refrain from smoking and stay outside the vehicle.
Myth #3: All brands of gas are the same.
Like more than two-thirds of Americans, Kaufman buys gas primarily based on price and convenience. "I don't know if there is a difference between brands," she says. While all gasoline sold in the U.S. must meet federal requirements for performance, not all gas is the same.
The auto industry has a certification system for fuel. Top Tier certified gasoline includes additional detergents and fuel additives that remove engine deposits that can hurt fuel economy.
"Today's more fuel-efficient engines need higher-quality fuel for peak performance," says Akhtar Hussain, refined fuels expert at CHS, which markets Cenex brand fuels at more than 1,450 gas stations in 19 states. "Cenex TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline provides 2.5 times the cleaning power of conventional gasoline and removes deposits for better fuel economy and reduced emissions."
Our Top Tier certified gasoline keeps newer high-precision engines clean and helps older engines perform better, he adds. "It helps clean your engine every time you fill your tank." Cenex TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline is available at every Cenex location. To find one near you, visit cenex.com/locations.
So much for those tank-filling myths. Now it's time to fuel up and enjoy the drive.
(BPT) - A tire’s tread depth significantly affects driving safety. In fact, to ensure a vehicle drives safely, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recommends a tire be replaced once its tread depth reaches 2/32nds of an inch. Winter tires should be replaced even sooner.
Worn tires cause more than just headaches for drivers. Less tread means longer braking distances and more difficulty handling a car. This is especially true in slippery conditions because the tires are not able to effectively clear water from underneath causing the vehicle to hydroplane.
The contact area between the tire and the road is dramatically reduced when tires wear out and when driving speed increases. While driving 50 mph in 1/8 inch of water, the contact patch between the tire and road is only 16 percent compared to the contact patch of a stationary vehicle.
“Unfortunately, many drivers don’t regularly check the depth of tread on their tires. People check tread depths when fitting the tires, but then blissfully forget about them for the entire season,” says Matti Morri, technical customer service manager, Nokian Tyres.
Monitoring the condition of tires throughout their lives helps drivers maintain safety on the road. So, what steps should you take to ensure you get the most out of your tires?
1. Monitor and rotate your tires.
Tires wear unevenly, especially on front wheel drive vehicles where the front tires wear down much quicker than the rear tires. For this reason, you should monitor the tread depth throughout the season and rotate tires from front to back, providing the tire size is the same on both axles.
If a set of tires are installed in the spring and used heavily until the start of autumn without being rotated, it is completely possible for the front tires to be worn down while the rear tires still have up to 70 percent of tread left.
Rotating helps to minimize the performance and grip differences between the front and rear of the car for more predictable handling.
2. How to measure tread depth.
A U.S. penny is a handy tool for measuring the main grooves in the center of a tire’s tread. Insert the penny into the main groove so that the edge of the coin touches the tread and Lincoln’s head is upside down. If the top of Lincoln’s head remains visible from the groove, the tires are fully worn.
Some new tires on the market have innovative tread wear indicators to alert drivers when their tires need replacing. In fact, all new models from Nokian Tyres come fitted with a Driving Safety Indicator (DSI) that indicates how much tread is remaining, as well as a raindrop or snowflake symbol that appears once the tire has worn down to the point where the vehicle could handle unsafely on wet roads.
3. Minimize tread wear through proper inflation.
To help extend tread life, maximize fuel economy and optimize a vehicle’s performance, it’s important to check a tire’s air pressure once per month in the summer and twice per month in the spring and fall when there are large fluctuations in temperature. Tire over-and under-inflation cause tread to wear quicker than normal and can potentially result in a dangerous blowout. Additionally, under-inflation will cause your vehicle to use more fuel (or reduce range in an electric vehicle) and diminish the performance of your vehicle as it requires more effort to for the car to move.
For the most accurate pressure reading, check the tires while they are still cold. Driving heats up the tires causing the air inside to expand resulting with an inaccurate reading. The correct tire pressure for the vehicle and tire size combination can be found on a placard in the driver’s door jamb, on the inside of the gas cap, or in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Remember also to check the pressure of the vehicle’s spare tire (if equipped).
Drivers should keep these simple tips in mind throughout the spring and summer to help ensure a safe driving vehicle and to get the most out of their tires.
(BPT) - Buying a new car to reduce your carbon footprint seems logical. But surprisingly, keeping the vehicle already in your garage, or replacing it with a more fuel efficient used car may be a greener choice. That’s because it takes a lot of energy and raw materials to manufacture a new vehicle. "It varies between models, but it is reasonable to estimate building a new $30,000 midsize car will generate greenhouse gases that are the equivalent of 14 metric tons of CO2," says RockAuto.com Vice President, Tom Taylor.
The average car on the road is about 11 years old. EPA data shows that vehicles (cars and trucks) built in 2005, on average, emit 447 grams of CO2 per mile. A 2016 vehicle is expected to generate about 90 grams less than that every mile. Producing less CO2 is good, but it would take more than 150,000 miles of driving for that 90 grams in CO2 savings to add up and compensate for the 14,000 kg (14 metric tons of CO2) it took to build the new car. Especially for someone who does not drive a lot, it could be greener to just keep a well maintained older vehicle than to build a new one.
How much do you save with an electric car?
Electric cars do not have tailpipes, but an electric car is still on the hook for "upstream CO2" emitted by the utility which provides the electricity for the car. The EPA estimates upstream CO2 is around 100 grams per mile for most electric vehicles. That is a whopping 347 grams less than what is produced by the average vehicle built in 2005, but it would still take over 40,000 miles of driving before the electric car saved enough CO2 to cover the greenhouse gas cost of building it in the first place.
The environmental cost of servicing older cars
What about the CO2 equivalent discharged while making parts to fix an older car? Brake pads, struts, tires and other parts wear out as the miles pile up. Fortunately, unless the vehicle is involved in an accident, the structure that makes up most of a car will never need to be replaced.
Many smaller parts like alternators and major parts like engines and transmissions can be remanufactured. Remanufacturing means only the components that experience wear are replaced. Metal housings and other major pieces can be cleaned, refinished and reused. "Remanufacturing saves more than 80 percent of the energy and raw materials required to build a new part from scratch," Taylor says. Less energy and materials means less CO2.
Car manufacturers are using more recycled materials and updating factories to use less energy. Government mandates require future vehicles become increasingly more fuel efficient. "Upstream CO2" may decline as utility companies find new, greener ways to generate electricity. Nevertheless, keeping your current car well maintained or buying a more fuel efficient used car are currently great choices if you want to be green.
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