By Mary DellaValle, Editor
Summer is here and your customers are going to feel the heat. And, it’s not going to be so much from the temperature as it is from gas prices, as $4 per gallon is becoming a not-too-distant reality.
So while they will complain to you about how filling their tank is putting a strain on their wallet, they will continue to drive, although less and make shorter trips, when possible. They need transportation to get to and from work, and, for many, alternate transportation and carpooling may not be an option. Leisure driving might lessen somewhat among drivers in general, but the desire of those with sports cars and convertibles to experience the “open road” will likely not diminish.
And while you can lend a sympathetic ear during these gas-guzzling times, the most beneficial thing you can do for them is to make sure their vehicle is running at top performance, and perform various vehicle checks.
The Car Care Council (www.carcare.org) offers gas-saving maintenance tips that really work, and don’t take a lot of effort:
Vehicle gas caps 147 million gallons of gas vaporize every year due to gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether. About 17% of the vehicles on the road fall into this category.
Underinflated tires a mile or two per gallon is lost when tires aren’t properly inflated. It’s like driving with the parking brake on.
Worn spark plugs Dirty spark plugs cause misfiring, which wastes fuel. Regularly check and replace your customers’ spark plugs, if it’s necessary, to avoid this condition.
Dirty air filters A clogged air filter creates a “rich” mixture that wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power.
Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%, saving about 15 cents a gallon.
The Car Care Council also offers these driving-related tips to help conserve gas:
Limit aggressive driving (and punching the gas), which can lower gas mileage by as much as 33% on the highway and 5% on city streets.
Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph, so advise customers to observe the speed limit. Each mile driven over 60 mph will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon.
Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance, so remind customers to combine errands when possible.
Recommend using the air conditioning sparingly, instead of just running the A/C out of habit on warm days. If it’s not too hot out, suggest they use the fan setting alone.
Suggest customers clean out the trunk. An extra 100 pounds can cut fuel efficiency by 1-2%.
Doing these little things can mean a lot you’ll be complementing your customers’ gas-savings efforts and showing them that you’ve gone the “extra mile” so that they can, too!