TIRES, BRAKES & AUTO REPAIR

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Improve your tire and gas mileage

by Jerrette Kamaka
MidWeek Freelance Writer

With rollercoaster gas prices setting record highs, many drivers today are looking for ways to get the most out of every gallon of gas. Simple monitoring and tire maintenance can make a huge difference on how many miles to the gallon you get and as well as prolong the life of your tires.

Although today's tires are designed and constructed to last for tens of thousands of miles (some tires reaching 80,000 miles), many won't see half their life because of poor maintenance. In order to stretch your fuel mileage and get the most out of your tires, they must be maintained properly and it all begins with proper tire pressure.

"It's like pushing a loaded wheel barrel," says Scott Williams, General Manager of Lex Brodie's Tire Company. "If the tire on the wheel barrel is low on air, it will be much harder to push requiring more energy to move. But if the tire is properly inflated it will be easier to push, and use less energy. It's similar with a car, keeping the tires inflated to the recommended tire pressure is very important."

Because air expands when it's hot and contracts when it's cold, the best time to check your tires is when they are cold. The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in your owner's manual or on the door jam of the driver's door. This simple maintenance can improve your vehicle's fuel economy by 10 percent according to the EPA. Williams recommends checking your tire's air pressure & tread wear after every fill-up.

Just as important are rotating, balancing and aligning your tires on a regular basis. Most tire manufactures recommend a tire rotation every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. An out-of-balance wheel can cause tread wear, vibration, and put stress on the front-end, all potentially causing premature wear.

The wheels on your vehicle can be knocked out of alignment during daily impacts such as potholes, roadside curbing, speed bumps, or by normal daily driving. Have your alignment checked at least once per year. Should you notice the following four scenarios, Williams recommends a check-up immediately: any hard impact (accident, large pothole etc), uneven tread patterns, a difference in the handling, or a change in the steering wheel position. If you experience a change in your vehicle's handling such as a vibration while driving, a new noise, or your vehicle feels as if it is "pulling" to one side, it would be best to take it to a reputable repair shop. "A vehicle, when out of alignment, can easily cut your tire mileage in half', says Williams.

Proper maintenance of your vehicle is vital to obtaining optimum fuel economy. Regular oil changes, tune-ups as well as air filter, oxygen sensor replacement and properly performing brakes can increase your fuel economy.

Changing your driving habits can have an effect on your fuel economy. Drivers who stop making jack rabbit starts and stomping on the brake pedal will notice a change immediately.

"At Lex Brodie's, we encourage our customers to be educated about their automobiles," says Williams, "Our goal is to help our customer save time and money, while promoting increased safety. We want our customers to get the longest tire life possible, and help them save money on gas."

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