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Simple 'Dos' and 'Don'ts' for saving fuel this warm-weather travel season

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DON’T waste your coin on high octane gasoline if your vehicle doesn’t need it. Feeding your engine 91 octane when it’s engineered for optimal performance on 87 is a waste of money, and you can bet the petroleum companies don’t care if you spend the extra few cents a litre for no reason.

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no horsepower or mileage gain to be had by using higher octane fuel unless you’ve got a high-performance engine that specifically requires it. Sorry Dad-- but the family Caravan, Equinox or Accord isn’t a high-performance vehicle.

If you’re looking for some cleaning effect, bear in mind that all fuels, not just high-octane ones, are required to contain detergents. If it helps you sleep better, a bottle of injector cleaner every now and then is cheaper than spending an extra 7 or 8 dollars every time you fill up. Check your owner’s manual for the scoop.

DON’T be closed-minded if you’re going to be hitting the highway in a new vehicle this spring and summer. If you’re in the shopping process, be sure to test-drive some diesel and hybrid models if your budget allows. Carmakers have made tremendous advances in these types of machines lately-- and they’d love to set you up with a test-drive.

Photo: Jupiter image

DON’T expect your vehicle, new or old, to run efficiently if you ignore its maintenance requirements.

Did you know that even a plugged air filter can put the kibosh on good fuel mileage in some kind of hurry? Ditto worn-out spark plugs, ignition wires and even brakes. Do you remember the last time your vehicle had a tune up and check-over? If not, it’s probably waiting for one.

DON’T forget that a properly-running engine creates fewer emissions, too. If you don’t want your rig spewing more junk into the atmosphere than an Icelandic volcano, be sure it gets a once-over from a mechanic.

DO drive gently. It goes without saying, but drivers with a gentle foot experience better mileage than those who drive aggressively. Look up the road, plan for light-throttle passing, coast to a stop well ahead of red lights, and take off gently.

Your newer vehicle’s transmission is programmed to help you achieve better economy if you’re gentle with the throttle. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid-full throttle.

DO consider investing in a fuel injector cleaning service. If your engine feels sluggish or seems extra-thirsty lately, a fuel system cleaning can help restore engine power and mileage to factory specifications by ensuring the small, computer-controlled nozzles are running as the factory intended.