14 July 2008

How to reduce fuel consumption

Gas prices keep skyrocketing. But there is a lot a motorist can do to reduce fuel consumption. There are quite a few easy and inexpensive maintenance steps that can be taken to add miles to every gallon and save money.

Consumers waste millions of dollars everyday because of dirty oil, worn spark plugs, faulty thermostats, loose gas caps, underinflated tires, malfunctioning engine controls, poor wheel alignment, dirty air filters, and so on. These problems are basic and easy to take care of, yet still they are major causes of wasted fuel.

As they say, "a stitch in time saves nine". With proper maintenance you can save a lot of fuel. Avoid gas vaporization by ensuring that your vehicle gas cap is not damaged, loose or missing. Your tires must be properly inflated; otherwise it can cost you a few miles per gallon. Replace your spark plugs regularly to avoid misfiring and fuel wastage. Replace clogged air filters and improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

Driving habits are another major contributor to poor fuel economy. Bad habits include exceeding speed limits, aggressive driving, excessive idling, carrying heavy items in vehicle, and the list goes on.

Fast driving in low gears can consume up to 45% more fuel than is needed. When traveling at highway speeds keep windows closed. Open windows reduce your mileage by 10%. You should drive steadily. Sudden changes in speed wastes fuel.

A lot of fuel can be wasted by prolonged warming up of the engine. You do not need to warm up engine for more than 45 seconds even on cold mornings. Starting and stopping your engine needlessly is another no-no. Avoid revving the engine, especially just before it is switched off.

You should also buy your gasoline carefully. Choose quality brands that provide greater economy. Buy your gasoline during the coolest times of the day. And never fill your gas tank to the top. The gas can slosh over and out of the tank.

Other fuel saving habits include avoiding rough roads, using straighter roads, regular tune-ups, inspection of suspension and chassis parts for misalignment, and removing snow tires during good weather seasons.

About the author:
Roger Charles is a successful author and publisher of http://toyota-parts-guide.com - A resource for information and tips on buying auto parts and accessories online.

Choosing a Car Stereo

Choosing a Car Stereo can be a complicated and difficult task, especially for individuals with little knowledge on the subject. This process requires extensive research in order to determine you are receiving the best deal possible. Before going to a car stereo dealer, you may want to review and understand all the components of a car stereo. This way, you can personally choose which components you would like for your car. The following is a list of the basic components of a car stereo:

1. Decks - Car stereos cannot function without a deck. A deck constitutes any piece of equipment ranging from cassette decks and CD players to MP3s and mini discs. The deck is considered the glue that holds the car stereo together. The deck controls the overall output of the sound and allows you to control the music being played. All car stereo decks have a minimum 4-channel output for your speakers. If you want more power than what your speakers alone can hold, you may want to consider purchasing an amplifier.

2. Amplifiers – Amplifiers provide the power needed to blast the music in your car. The more powerful your amplifier is, the louder the sound system is going to be. An amplifier can have anywhere from 1 to 7 channels. The number of channels in your amplifier is the number of speakers you can hookup in a series circuit.

3. Speakers – Speakers are where the sound from the stereo is emitted. Different types of speakers are designed to produce different frequencies. Higher frequencies provide the capacity for more sound and produce a higher level sound as well. The efficiency of the speakers is what will determine how far the sound will travel. If you want the sound to travel far, you will need speakers with a higher frequency.

4. Subwoofers – Every high-tech car stereo system should have a subwoofer. Subwoofers complete the sound by providing high efficiency of low frequencies, through the bass. In other words, the subwoofer is the piece of equipment which makes the car vibrate. A subwoofer needs to be enclosed in either a box or possibly the trunk of your vehicle. Keep this is mind when budgeting the cost of your stereo system.

Now that you know the basics of how everything operates, you can ask informed questions as to which components you should have in your car.

About the author:
Amy Barson works as a contributing editor for http://www.carstereos101.com– a site that offers information on car stereos and car stereo installation.

You may also want to see Planning a Car audio System installation.

Your Cars Electrical System

When the automotive industry was in its infancy, it used electricity only to ignite the fuel inside the engine. By the late 1920's, the electric starter replaced the hand crank, electric headlights made acetylene lamps obsolete and the braying of the electric horn drowned out the squeak of the hand-squeezed air horn. Today, an automobile requires an elaborate electrical system of circuits just to produce, store, and distribute all the electricity it requires simply for everyday operation.

The first major component in the electrical system is the battery. The battery is used to store power for starting, and for running auxiliary devices such as clocks, radios and alarms when the engine is off. The next major component is the starter motor, which is used to start the engine. The third component is a charging device powered by the engine, known as the alternator. It powers the electrical system when the car is running, and restores the charge within the battery. With these basic components, the car maintains its supply of electricity. A device called the voltage regulator keeps the power level stabilized, and the fuse box keeps minor problems from becoming major ones.

Many different auxiliary electrical devices are used in modern cars, such as: radios, cellular phones, rear window defrosters and electric door locks, as well as a vast array of motors powering everything from the moon roof on down.

The above information is directly from the Auto Insight program, which you can buy online from AutoEducation.com.

Common Problems:

· The battery is usually the first part of the system to wear out. Most batteries last between 3 and 7 years depending on brand and design. Batteries can be fine on minute, and dead the next. More on this later.

· Blown fuse: Is one part of the electrical system not working like the interior lights or dash lights? The first thing to check is the fuses. Look for the fuse panel under the dash, in the glove box, or even in the engine compartment in some cars. Most fuse boxes will be labeled by circuit. Modern cars use a blade type fuse which is rectangular in shape and transparent. Look for the wire, which runs through the fuse, and see if it is burned through. Any discoloring of the fuse is a good sign the fuse has blown. If you have doubts, replace with a new fuse and test the system, which is not working.

· Alternator: Does your car start ok, but your headlights dim when idling. It could be a bad alternator. When the alternator cannot produce enough electricity to keep the electrical systems running and the battery will have to be used to take up the slack. This will eventually wear down the battery and not allow your car to start.


I don't think there is a tougher system to troubleshoot on your car than the charging/starting system. This is due to the fact that there are many things that can go wrong and it's tough to test some components without special equipment. Let's go over some possible situations and their possible causes.

· Car won't start, all I hear is a click but the engine does not turn.

o First check all battery cables for corrosion as this will keep power from flowing freely to the starting system. If they are dirty, clean with a wire brush and reattach. Apply a light coat of grease to the top of the terminals to prevent further corrosion.

o Battery could not have enough power stored in it to spin the engine. This can be caused by a bad cell in the battery or from a bad alternator not charging the battery when the engine is running. If you can get the car to a mechanic, have him or her test the battery and charging system with a special tester. This tester places a load on the battery and can tell the condition. They can also check to see if the alternator is working to it's full potential.

o Starter or solenoid could be bad. If you can not jump start the car and all of the battery cables are ok then suspect the starter.

· Car won't start, I hear nothing.

o Check battery cables as above.

o Have the battery tested. There could be a bad cell causing a short. You can try jump-starting but often the car will not stay running.

· Car won't start, all I hear is a horrible grinding noise.

o Grinding noises point to the starter not properly meshing with the flywheel. This can be caused by a bad solenoid or a bad spot on the flywheel.

o I have also seen starters loosen up so they no longer contact the flywheel at the proper distance. While not common, it is something to keep in mind.

· Car starts but my headlights are dim at low engine speeds.

o Look to the alternator for problems. Take the car to your mechanic to have the alternator checked for proper operation.

o Check for loose wires going to the alternator. Also check for corrosion, as this will inhibit the alternator from charging properly.

o Check the tension on the alternator belt. If it is too loose, the belt may slip and not drive the alternator properly.

As you can see there are plenty of things to go wrong with the charging system and it is always best to take the car to your mechanic and have it tested before you go replacing parts blindly.

Preventing problems with your electrical system:

· Replace your battery every 4 years as a safety measure. It will save allot of headaches down the road.

· If your battery is not a sealed unit, check fluid levels in each cell. Only fill with distilled water and be careful around the acid, which is in the battery.

· Check your alternator belt frequently for cracks and tension. Replace per your cars manufacturers recommendations.

· Clean your battery connections at least once a year. Parts stores sell a handy terminal cleaner which is basically a round wire brush, which works wonders. Once you reattach the terminals, coat with a layer of heavy grease or special purpose grease sold at parts stores. This layer will block the air from reacting with the connectors and creating corrosion.

How to jump start your car:

Jump-starting your car does not have to be a hard task. First lay out the cables on the ground between the two cars. Make sure that the cable is not tangled and none of the end clamps are touching each other. The car with the good battery should be running.

Step 1: Take the positive (red) clamp closest to the car with the good battery and hook it to the positive terminal of that car. The positive terminal will have a + sign on it and usually a red wire running to it.

Step 2: Repeat this step on the car with the bad battery, hooking up the positive clamp to the positive terminal on the battery. Make sure the clamps are contacting well and can not fall off.

Step 3: Take the negative cable (black) closest to the car with the good battery and hook it to the negative terminal of the battery. The negative terminal will have a - sign and usually a black wire running to it.

Step 4: This is the last step and the most important. Take the negative clamp closest to the car with the bad battery and attach it to a bare metal part of the engine. DO NOT hook it to the batteries negative terminal as there maybe hydrogen gas present from the battery and a spark from the connection could cause an explosion.

That's it...... turn the key on the dead car and the car should start. If it does not, try revving the engine on the good car to boost the charge coming from the alternator. If this does not work, try wiggling the cables to assure you have a good connection. GOOD sets of jumper cables are a necessity. I have had cheaper sets not jump-start a dead car. I actually had to double up two cheap sets to get enough current to start my car. The cheaper sets will have thinner cables, which cannot carry enough amperage to start some stalled cars. I would suggest buying a cable, which has 4,6 or 8-gauge wire.

About the author:
Kevin Schappell maintains http://www.carbuyersclub.com where he gives advice on buying, selling, insurance, and financing. A mechanical engineer and car guy, Kevin has decided to spend his online time helping others learn about automobiles. To learn more about how your car works, Kevin has created http://www.mycarwizard.com

Lexus GS 450h: Full Hybrid Technology Revs Up With Superior Toyota Aftermarket Parts

The 2007 Lexus GS 450h is the world's first hybrid luxury sedan and the first full hybrid vehicle with a front engine and rear wheel drive.

'Once again, we've applied our formula of no compromise engineering - this time to a luxury sport sedan which proves to us that hybrid power trains can work superbly in virtually any application,' said Lexus Vice President of Marketing Mark Templin. 'It's very important to continue pursuing substantial reductions in fuel consumption and emissions, while continuing to improve performance and driving pleasure. Our customers wouldn't have it any other way.

It will be a rear wheel drive full hybrid making it able to travel at low speeds under electric propulsion alone. Lexus says the GS 450h will have gas mileage similar to the average 2-liter, 4-cylinder compact sedan.

The Lexus GS 450h is a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle. A SULEV-rated vehicle is 90% cleaner than the average new car.

The GS 450h will have a 3.5-liter V6 engine combined with a high-output electric motor--all driving the rear wheels--to pack horsepower at the level of a V8 engine. Lexus says it will have horsepower equivalent to a 4.5 liter V8. 0-60 acceleration is expected to be less than 6 seconds. For perspective, the 2006 GS 430 has a 4.3-liter V8 that has 300 horsepower.

It's built on the GS 430 platform and offers similar standard equipment and options, including a sunroof and perforated leather seats. It is visually identical to the GS 430, except for a large air dam on the front bumper to cool the electric motor, a power meter on the dashboard instead of an odometer, and 18-inch light-alloy wheels.

Hybrid technology, driving dynamics, motoring comfort and generous space inside redefines the new Lexus GS450h. Featuring more powerful and fuel efficient engines, innovative assistance systems, a wide range of safety features, as well as a superior standard of equipment, the new Toyota Lexus of today need no less than superior BMW replacement parts when the need arises.

This is where Parts Train comes in. Having a vast array of well crafted Toyota Replacement Parts, Performance Parts, Aftermarket Parts to choose from its online store at http://www.partstrain.com/ShopByVehicle/TOYOTA available 24 hours a day to serve your most demanding auto parts needs. Excellence is synonymous to service for all of Parts Train's customer service staff in dealing with all of your auto parts inquiries.

About the author:
Jenny McLane is a 36 year old native of Iowa and has a knack for research on cars and anything and everything about it. She works full time as a Market Analyst for one of the leading car parts suppliers in the country today.

7 Things to Know when Renting a Car

In today's society, there are a number of reasons why people rent a car. Some of the top reasons are vacations, a car they own is in the shop and renting a nicer car for a special occasion. Whatever the reason that you are considering renting a car; there are some things that you should know first.

1- It is wise to shop around when looking for to rent a car. Always find at least three rental car companies to compare, although more will be better. Be sure to ask all the companies the same questions to get the most accurate answers. Most rental car companies will have websites online to find basic information, but it is best to call as local branches may have deals that are not advertised online.

2- When you call, be sure to ask about price, vehicle availability, as well as any specials that the branch has to offer. It is worth noting here, that many of these companies will have special arrangements with hotels, airlines or even warehouse stores.

3- You will want to ask about any special instructions that are required of you while renting the car, for example, filling up the gas tank or pick up and drop off times. Not adhering to these policies can result in fees.

4- Many companies that will rent a car to you will also be willing to either deliver the car to you or pick you up and take you to your rental. This service may require a fee, but can be worth asking about if you are flying to your destination.

5- The rental company may offer you insurance to purchase, however, your personal auto insurance may be all you need in the event of an accident with a rental car. Call your auto insurance agent and ask before paying extra at the rental counter.

6- There are a number of choices that are open to you when renting a car. Each class of car will vary in price and gas mileage; consider this when making your decision. While many companies may be willing to upgrade you, this is not always the case. It is wise to choose the car you want and hope for an upgrade than to reserve less of a car and be disappointed when an upgrade is not offered.

7- Have a credit or debit card handy to reserve the rental car with, most companies will only guarantee a car with this assurance.

About the author:
John Mancini has been writing about rental cars online and offline for a long time. Visit http://budgetrentalcars.infoor http://dirt-cheap-car-rentals.comto read more about matters like car rentals and enterprise rent a car.