I've been looking over various maintenance schedules for cars - including meldawen's post from a while back and my vehicle's owner's manual. They all say get a tune-up at 60,000mi. I'm not a car person. I don't even know what a tune-up is, where I might go to get one, or what one might cost.
I checked the Meineke website for some info and found this:
A tune-up is the process of checking and adjusting all of the systems in your vehicle that contribute to the efficient combustion of fuel.
How do I know when I need a tune-up?
Keep a log of your gas mileage. When the average falls by 10% - 15%, your vehicle needs a tune up. As always, check your vehicle's owner's manual for manufacturer recommendations.
Some facts about tune-ups...
- Tune up can improve your fuel economy by 4 to 12%.
- A too rich fuel to air mixture will lower fuel efficiency.
- A too lean fuel to air mixture can cause misfiring or engine damage
- Spark plug timing must be set to specifications.
- Clean and properly adjusted points will produce fuel efficient firing.
- One spark plug misfiring half of the time reduces fuel economy by 7% and two can reduce it by 20%.
- Too high an idle speed wastes gas.
(Two more pieces of information from meldawen: Your fuel filter should be changed during a tune-up, and you should make sure they check your emissions equipment then too.)
As one who needs a car to get to work every day, it's frustrating that I have no control over the technology we are developing (or rather - not developing) to bail our asses out of the nasty situation we are heading towards. I just read in the news today that Taiwan is going to start using wind energy. A while back I read that Scotland is using tidal energy. Yesterday I read that Exxon-Mobil is not investing AT ALL in alternative energy (and by the way, they just reported the largest corporate quarterly profit ever reported in American history. I didn't read this on obscure lefty blogs either - I read all of it on Yahoo!.
Other countries are getting on board, but my country isn't. But this isn't about just fixing something in your country only. We share the global environment and we're all in it together - and my country is more wasteful than most. I vote for representatives who are interested in renewable, clean energy and so far it hasn't helped. On a national level, we need environmental policy to regulate businesses and individuals, incentives for environmental practices, and funding for researching new technologies. If the national government lacks that vision, some of the larger companies could step in and make a difference - but many of them are the ones lobbying the government to dismantle the last 30 years in environmental regulation.
You might have little control over whether or not you need a car - and you might lack the resources to run out and get a hybrid or a car that runs on diesel - but if everyone did what they could to make their current cars as fuel efficient as possible, we'd make a difference.