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3 entries from February 2013

Car Makers Lightening the Load to Save on Fuel

Balloon Car
Photo: iStockphoto

We've written before on PumpTalk about how lightening the load in your car (but not in your fuel tank) can help increase your fuel efficiency. Cleaning out your vehicle can definitely help you make the most of your gasoline dollar! But short of removing essential items, like the seats, there's only so much weight you can remove from your car.

Fortunately, lightening the load to increase fuel efficiency has become a top priority for many car makers lately.

This auto show season, several car manufacturers are unveiling lighter weight vehicles, created by incorporating new materials and technologies into their upcoming models. The goal? Doubling the average vehicle's fuel efficiency over the next decade.Check out this Wall Street Journal article for some of the innovations in lighter vehicles coming down the pike.

Naturally, finding a balance between making a lighter vehicle and meeting safety standards can be a challenge - but it's a challenge that's already being met on the Formula One race track. Many of the lighter weight materials in Formula One cars (aluminum underbody, carbon-fiber composite roof) are set to be incorporated into the next generation of Corvettes, for example - and GM has invested in NanoSteel, a lighter-than-steel "nano-structured advanced high-strength alloys whose strength and ductility meet automotive structural demands".

So in the next few years, you might be able to improve your fuel economy simply by buying a car that weighs between 10% and 15% less than your current vehicle! While you're waiting for those innovations, be sure and check our Ways to Save on Fuel Infographic and our other PumpTalk posts about getting the most out of your fuel.

- Rose R.

Reviving Your Car Battery

Jump starting a car
Photo: iStockphoto

We've all experienced it - that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you get into your car, turn the key in the ignition and hear that fruitless clicking that indicates a dead battery.

Once you stop screaming "Nooooooo!" and pounding angrily on the steering wheel, it's time to take stock of the situation. How did this happen? And what do you need to do to get moving again?

Here are some of the reasons your battery may have failed:

Continue reading "Reviving Your Car Battery" »

Why do some countries drive on the left vs. the right?

Right Hand Drive
Photo: iStockphoto

I'll never forget the shock I experienced on my first trip away from North America, when I tried to cross the street in Dublin, Ireland. I nearly got mowed down by a car I didn't see coming - because I was looking the wrong way down the street.

I was aware that drivers drove on the left in the UK - but force of habit had me looking in the other direction. All of that driving on the left was quite unsettling to someone with my poor sense of spatial relations - I mean, even the steering wheels were on the "wrong" side! I was relieved when I went to Paris for a few days and everyone was driving on the right again, the way nature intended.

Driving on the left isn't just a United Kingdom quirk, of course - there are a whopping 76 countries or territories where the inhabitants drive on the left, vs. 164 countries or territories where driving on the right is mandatory. Obviously, all of North America currently drives on the right - countries that drive on the left include India, Malta, Australia and (this was news to me) Japan.

Continue reading "Why do some countries drive on the left vs. the right?" »