Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 27, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: What can be done to improve fuel mileage

Niagara Gazette — A few questions and answers this week.

JUNE FROM BOSTON: I own a 2006 Jeep Liberty with 48,000 miles. This obviously is NOT a fuel-efficient vehicle. I have the oil changed regularly and tire pressures are maintained as well. This little ‘cutie’ maybe gets 13-15 MPG city driving ...YIKES! Is there anything I can do to improve gas mileage now that it costs $70 to fill up? My daughter is using it for college and she has a 25-mile commute with little to no stops to reach the campus. Her friends refer to her as the “old lady driver,” so speeding doesn’t apply here. A side note: My Chrysler Pacifica, which is rated poorly for fuel efficiency, has better mileage!

TOM: Two things come to mind. Install a high-flow air filter like a K&N filter and install an economizer fuel chip. This device modifies the engine management program from the factory (fuel trim is leaned and ignition timing retarded, all resulting in increased fuel mileage). The only tradeoff is decreased engine performance, but you say that you daughter drives like an “old lady” so this shouldn’t be an issue. Finally, practice moderate driving habits: No jackrabbit starts; drive the speed limit; make sure tires are properly inflated; and keep the engine tuned. Best to you.

•••

JOSIE FROM WASHINGTON DC: What is a “Readiness Monitor” on a car?

TOM: The term “Readiness Monitor” on today’s cars refers to the self-check monitors in the car’s emissions and performance system. When a Readiness Monitors trips, it means that the system has failed a self-test and the emissions systems are not operating up to snuff. In states where an emissions test is performed, if a Readiness Monitor is tripped, it can fail the emissions portion of the state inspection. The Readiness Monitors can only be reset after the offending emissions system is repaired, the system is reset with a scan tool, and a drive cycle is performed.

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