Local car care expert weighs in on tips to conserve fuel


HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Fuel shortages across the East Coast and here in the Commonwealth caused by a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline have left drivers worried about their next fill-up.

“The last 24 hours have been intense around Hampton Roads,” said Holly Dalby, the Public Information Officer for AAA of Tidewater. “We need to remember it’s not a shortage but a distribution problem.”

Instead of panicking, Sharon McElrath, owner of Mr. Transmission in Newport News, says to think about conserving what you have. Her first tip: Don’t speed.

“The engine will burn gas more efficiently if you go the speed limit,” McElrath said. “The faster you go, the more gas you will use.”

Next, she says make sure you are pumped up. Under-inflated tires reduce fuel economy and are also dangerous.

Next, have your O2 sensors checked.

“Your O2 sensors calibrate the amount of fuel that is going to the engine, and they should be changed around every 60,000 to 90,000 miles,” she said.

McElrath says it’s a good idea to have your engine and transmission checked.

“You want to make sure it is shifting correctly at the right times, and that can save one to five miles per gallon,” she said. “Make sure your engine is properly tuned up; make sure all your spark plugs are working; no misfires in your engine, and change your oil on regular basis.”

Another tip: Travel light. Added weight in the car creates drag on the engine and consumes extra gas, so remove unnecessary items from the trunk.

McElrath also said don’t be afraid to run your A/C, especially on the highway.

Related: How to report gas price gouging if you see it

“If you have windows open or sunroof open, that air does not make your car aerodynamic,” she said.

Lastly, avoid idling. It uses a lot of fuel, more than restarting the engine.





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