Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fuel Injection Cleaner: Needless upsell

Automotive Tip of the Week: Fuel Injection cleaner is generally a complete rip off. Most modern gasoline's already carry cleaning additives and detergents in them that are quite effective at maintaining (and even improving/cleaning) the fuel injection system. For all the bad things that go along with it, ethanol does also provide some reasonable cleaning effects. Fuel Injection cleaner is really only useful for very poorly maintained vehicles, or ones that have sat for a long time and need an extra kick in the pants to get rid of varnishing from aging. Any daily driven vehicle from the 90's forward will essentially never need the additive. Save your money!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

Automotive Tip of the Week: Avoid "low rolling resistance" tires. These tires are marketed for their ability to add mpg to your car. They typically only yield about 1 mpg. Keeping your tires properly filled (not over!) is nearly as efficient. The big reason to avoid the low rolling resistance tires is actually Safety. One thing glazed over in my discussions of them is that braking distances increase dramatically because they have so much lower traction and adhesion to the road. It's not uncommon to see 20 feet added to stopping distances at 60 mph. Imagine going from 120 ft to 140 ft. That's nearly a 20% increase! Could be the difference between rear-ending someone or hitting a deer and not. They are also more skid prone again because of the lesser adhesion to the road because of the rubber compounds used to improve rolling resistnace. Some of the newer tires are "better" at this, but are still generally bad in comparison to a good all season tire. Keep in mind that these issues also occur with many "high mileage" tires. Anything over about 40-50k rated life is also typically giving up critical performance in these areas.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nitrogen - just more expensive air.

Automotive tip of the week: Nitrogen for your tires is a complete waste of money. Yes it technically is more temperature stable, and yes it technically could have a lower loss rate through the pores of the tires, but the atmosphere around you is already 78% nitrogen. You don't drive a race car that needs consistent pressure variation during heat cycles of the tires. Save your money.


Automotive tip of the week: Don't ever buy the same tire your car came from the dealer with. OEM tires are significantly more expensive, and significantly poorer performing tires than many other tire store options. Manufacturers select the tires they do based on supplier relationships, automotive reviewer tendencies, and efficiency gains for the EPA MPG cycle. Tires that will have significantly better overall traction, handling, and performance will cost much less. Example: 2006 Subaru Imprezza - factory tires are about 220/tire. Much better performing options with same tread life - 70-90.