AutomotiveNews.com reports that Honda is trying to push the limits of what a hybrid vehicle can be. The company’s new CR-Z is a sporty two-seater on August 24 for less than $20,000, creating a potentially attractive option for new car buyers looking for a fun and sporty hybrid alternative without breaking the bank.
Honda has been able to keep the costs down on the CR-Z by integrating the engine and the bulk of the Integrated Motor Assist system from its Insight hybrid hatchback. The car is available with either a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission option.
The performance has been enhanced with several featured. Honda made the car as light as possible by reducing weight in various areas, including the 16-inch wheels and forged aluminum front suspension parts. Drivers can also toggle between a “sport” and “eco” mode to increase power or fuel efficiency.
When most people bring their car into a mechanic or oil change place for routine maintenance, they simply drop the keys off and pay the bill after work is completed. They don’t think much about it and generally agree to whatever recommendations that mechanic might make about services to perform. This is a big mistake! Not asking questions or paying attention during even the most basic of car care procedures can cost you hundreds of dollars immediately or down the road.
Being a smart car owner means asking questions. Here are a few things that you should be prepared to ask your mechanic when you bring your car in for an oil change, tune-up or any other scheduled maintenance procedure:
- Are you putting the right oil in my car? If you have an older car, you will want to consider motor oils designed for high mileage vehicles. If you drive in cold weather or frequently haul things, you might want to consider different viscosity oil than what is standard for your model.
- Is it time to change my oil filter? A dirty oil filter can hurt your engine’s performance and rob you of gas mileage.
- Are my fluid levels where they should be? If your fluid levels are lower than would be expected for the amount of time between maintenance visits, this could be a sign that you have a leak or some other mechanical problem which is draining your fluids and could be something to look at.
Most people understand that it’s important to change your motor oil and other fluids in your car on a regular basis on order to keep your car running properly. While the old axiom of having a motor oil change every 3,000 miles might not hold true today with improvements in motor oil technology, it’s still a good idea to change your oil every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
But your motor oil isn’t the only thing you need to be replacing on a regular basis in order to maximize the performance of your car. The air filtration system is an incredibly important part of the car’s internal workings but something that many people ignore. Cars need fresh air in order to fire properly, meaning that your air filter and other parts of the filtration system need to be checked and cleaned on a regular basis.
Simply making sure that your air filter is clean can improve your gas mileage by 10 percent or more along with reducing the wear and tear on your motor and improving your engine life. Every time you replace your motor oil, making sure you check your air filter. If it is simply clogged, the particles can easily be removed; older air filters will need to be replaced. It’s an easy and cheap way to improve your gas mileage and performance.
If your car isn’t starting the way that it should be, one problem could be your spark plugs. Spark plugs create an electrical spark inside of internal combustion engines, which ignites the compressed fuels and get the engine moving. If spark plugs are old or not all of them are working, this can create rough starts or make it impossible to fire the engine at all.
Most spark plugs should be replaced every 30,000 to 45,000 miles. However, the more expensive platinum spark plugs can last up to 100,000 miles before they need to be replaced. A rough start is a sure sign of old spark plugs but there are other signs. A lack of a spark can create poor fuel efficiency or cause your car to vibrate or even stall while idling or accelerating.
Finding out if your spark plugs need to be changed is easy. Any mechanic can quickly hook your plugs up to an oscilloscope to check their secondary ignition pattern. Worn spark plugs will cause a sudden spike in voltage that is simple to detect. Replacing spark plugs is cheap, easy and can have a major impact on the quality of your ride.
With the high cost of gas today, people are always looking for ways to save money on their fuel costs. Buying a hybrid or electric car is a great way to save on gas but even if you have an SUV there are some basic steps that you can take to save money on gas:
Use lower-octane gas: Using a higher-octane gasoline is only necessary if you drive a sports car, luxury vehicle or other car where a higher octane is specifically called for in the owner’s manual. For the vast majority of passenger vehicles, putting in the higher grade of gas is useless since there will be no increase in performance.
Park in the shade: Not only does parking your car in the sun during the summer months make your car uncomfortable but it also can cost you gas. Excess heat can cause your gas to evaporate from your tank. Parking in shaded areas can eliminate this problem (while also making your car cooler to drive).
Inflate your tires: Driving on underinflated tires makes your engine have to work harder in order to pull the car. Having your tires properly inflated can help improve your fuel efficiency by up to 15 percent.