How to Get the Best Gas Mileage

Getting the Best Gas Mileage

The newer your car, truck or SUV is, the better gas mileage you are able to get out it. This is because of lighter materials in construction and more efficient fuel usage in the engine design.  Overall improvements in technology and manufacturing are helping you get more miles for your gas dollars. Outside of manufacturing, there are several steps you as a driver can take to get better – or much worse – mileage. The difference in how to get the best mileage out of your vehicle comes down to driving habits and being mindful of weight and proper maintenance.

How you Drive Accelerate and Brake Gently

The way you drive makes the most difference in how far you can go on a tank of gas. Acceleration and hard braking are the main habits that you can change to get better mileage.  They are not just good defensive driving techniques.  Keep a proper following distance – it won’t just make you a courteous driver, it will also help you on your mileage. By keeping a larger following distance, you can make smoother adjustments.  Every time you slam your brakes instead of evenly slowing and stopping causes your engine to burn much more gas.  Keep a safe following distance while in traffic – the rule of thumb is to keep a minimum of 2 seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Overall Weight

Are you driving around with a full trunk? Extra weight contributes to your overall gas mileage by making it harder for the engine to do the same amount of work. One counterintuitive source of significant weight is actually the gas itself. A gallon of gas is 8.34 pounds – if you have an average small car with a 12 gallon tank, a full tank of gas then weighs around 100 pounds.  For every 100 pounds in your car, you can expect to add roughly $31.32 a year.

Inflate Tires to the Correct Pressure

We recently discussed how to get the best life out of your tires. Having tires with the correct pressure not only lengthens their life, but will give you more efficient mileage.

Correct Motor Oil and Regular Oil Changes

Another recent blog entry covers the differences in types of oil and how it impacts your vehicle. Proper oil maintenance not only allows your car to perform better, giving you better mileage, it also keeps the parts from becoming damaged. Most of the loss in gas mileage that isn’t driving habit-related will come from leaks and worn down engine parts.


How easily a vehicle moves through the air is also a factor in gas mileage. This is also why vehicles have been moving further and further away from older boxy looking designs. Automakers fine-tune the way the air attaches to the vehicle’s surface, and the way it leaves the rear end. If you have ski racks or mudflaps, they are just adding wind resistance, making the job of cutting through the air that much more difficult.

Other Basic Habits and Maintenance Tips

Use your cruise control and avoid idling for long periods of time. If you have a manual, drive in the highest gear for the speed you are traveling. Make sure that your gas cap is secured; loose or lost gas caps can kill your gas mileage as it allows the gas to easily evaporate right into the air.
When buying gas, use apps like Gasbuddy to find the best price in your area.  Air filters can also affect your mileage and should be considered something to routinely check as part of maintenance.

Getting the Most Out of Your Tires

Worn Out Tires
Tire pressure, alignment and tread wear are the main killers of tires over time. You can take steps to counteract tread wear by rotating your tires and stay on top of the other issues with routine checks and basic tire maintenance.

Tire Pressure

Tires are built to specifications that they are intended to be driven on. Under or over inflating tires can cause damage to the tire and each vehicle has a tire size\pressure combination that it is intended to run at. There is actually a tire load index that manufacturers release to determine what your tires can safely carry. For example, if a tire has a load index of 92, it can support 1,389 pounds at maximum air pressure. Multiply that by four tires (4 x 1,389 = 5,556 pounds) to get your car’s maximum load carrying capacity. Never install tires with a lower load carrying capacity than the original tires that were factory installed on your vehicle.
Those rims and low profile tires you want may look the way you want, but they need to support your car’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  This number can be found in the owner’s manual.  You don’t exactly need to do all the math yourself, but keep it in mind and if you have questions about it, ask your mechanic or a tire shop to confirm the tires will work with your car.

Check Pressure Weekly

For every 10-degree Fahrenheit decrease in temperature, the pressure will drop 2 psi (pounds per square inch). So, as it gets colder and when we experience Texas weather fluctuations where we get all the seasons in one day, tires will need to be checked and inflated more often. Tires naturally lose pressure as well. Some newer cars often have features like a Tire Pressure Management System that lets you check on the pressure of each tire from the dashboard.


If your car actively pulls or drifts right or left, or the steering wheel vibrates or shakes, your car may have a wheel alignment problem. Your vehicle could be driving fine and still be out of alignment. When you bump up against a parking lot barrier, hit a pothole, or hit the curb, something has to give, and it’s often your alignment. Driving while out of alignment unevenly causes wear on the tread, even if it is not a noticeable pull while driving. If it IS a noticeable pull, it is something you will want to have corrected by a mechanic and getting ahead of the issue before it causes your tires to be ruined or even causes blowout can save you a ton of pain and money. You should have it checked every six months or whenever you think something is wrong.

Tread Wear

Do not wait until you can actively feel your vehicle pulling one way or another. If you do, it may already be too late to prevent premature wear. Run your hand over the thread and visually inspect the tires. You should look for distortion in the tread, feathering or cupping. If corrected early enough, bad wear patterns can be countered by rotating the tires, and tire life can be extended. Tire rotation makes it more likely that the treads will wear down evenly. Rotate your tires every 5,000 miles. Front wheel drive has more wear on, you guessed it, the front wheels. That can cause uneven tire wear. On rear-wheel drive vehicles, it’s the back tires. Even all-wheel drive vehicles can see uneven wear, as most shift the drive from one wheel to another.  If you replace a tire, it is important that you replace it with the same kind of tire. It is recommended that you replace your tires after 6 years of age, regardless of tread depth.

How Do I Read the Engine Oil Bottle Numbers and Letters?

Check Engine Oil
It is time to change your oil, or maybe you are just curious. What exactly are the numbers on all the oil selections at your auto parts store? You should know what kind of oil is appropriate for your car and your owners manual should have that information in the front of the manual.  Some new engines require synthetic oil, while older engines use conventional oil.


All oils are intended for an application and in general are not interchangeable. So what are we looking for in an oil? What does it do?  The oil must be thick enough to adhere to the components as it passes by to provide adequate lubrication. At the same time, it must be thin enough to easily flow through the system.


Most oils on the shelves today are “Multigrades”, which simply means that the oil falls into 2 viscosity grades (i.e. 10w-40 etc)
In a 10w-40 for example the 10w bit (W = winter, not weight or watt or anything else for that matter) simply means that the oil must have a certain maximum viscosity/flow at low temperature. The lower the “W” number the better the oil’s cold temperature/cold start performance.

The 40 in a 10w-40 simply means that the oil must fall within certain viscosity limits at 100°C. Once again the lower the number, the thinner the oil: a 30 oil is thinner than a 40 oil at 100°C, etc.

Service Classifications: A two-letter code is listed on the motor oil label that tells you which types of vehicles the oil is designed for. It will begin with either an S for gasoline engines or a C for diesel engines. The second letter tells you which model years the oil is designed to work with. For the letter A, the oil meets requirements of vehicles that were developed before 1930. The classification of current vehicles is N, so that the two-letter code should read SN for owners of relatively new, gasoline powered cars. This is mainly important for classic cars.

Gasoline – All specifications prior to SL are now obsolete and, although suitable for some older vehicles, are more than 10 years old, and do not provide the same level of performance or protection as the more up to date SL and SM specifications.

Diesel – All specifications prior to CH4 are now obsolete and, although suitable for some older vehicles, are more than 10 years old and do not provide the same level of performance or protection as the more up to date CH4 & CI4 specifications.
If you want a better more up to date oil specification then look for SL, SM, CH4, CI4

A lot of the other information are meaningless and just marketing blurbs. Be wary of statements like “synthetic blend” if you are looking for a fully synthetic oil as this will merely be a semi-synthetic.

Like everything in life, you get what you pay for and the cheaper the oil the cheaper the ingredients and lower the performance levels.

Symptoms of Using the Wrong Oil

If you use the wrong viscosity oil, you won’t notice much difference as long as it is close in grade. However, the engine will wear down sooner and may provide lower performance. Mixing synthetic motor oil with conventional oil and vice-versa can damage internal engine seals and gaskets and lead to overheating problems.

Having a professional service your vehicle can avoid issues of using the wrong kinds of oil. Be sure to pay attention to your mileage and when the last time you changed your oil was.

How Bad is Distracted Driving?

Distracted Driving

You have seen it. You may even have been the example. However you can relate – distracted driving is a serious threat to public safety. How serious?  Distracted driving is a leading cause of car crashes in the United States. Texting, talking on a cell phone, and eating and drinking are the most common driver distractions.

Distracted driving continues to be a problem in Texas as data indicates that drivers are not changing their behaviors. With 1 in 5 crashes involving distracted driving – a ratio that has not changed in the past three years – this should be a sobering call to awareness.Statistics courtesy of Txdot and DMV.

In 2017, the total number of reportable motor vehicle traffic crashes on Texas roads was 537,475. Of those, 100,687 or 19% involved distracted driving (driver distraction, inattention or cellphone use). The 100,687 crashes in Texas resulted in 444 deaths and 2,889 serious injuries.

Every year, about 421,000 people are injured in crashes that have involved a driver who was distracted in some way. Each year, over 330,000 accidents caused by texting while driving lead to severe injuries. This means that over 78% of all distracted drivers are distracted because they have been texting while driving.
In 2016 alone, 3,450 people were killed.

According to a study conducted by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, distracted driving crashes cause 9% more teen deaths than alcohol-related accidents. The more passengers that are in the car, the higher the accident risk for teenage drivers.
Let’s say that one more time- distracted driving causes more teen deaths than alcohol-related accidents! But before you think to get on your teenager about the risks, consider that parents are largely responsible for their teen’s risky behavior. 15% of youth drivers have witnessed their parents send or read text messages while behind the wheel.

The statewide ban on texting and driving was one of 673 new Texas laws as of Sept. 1. If you’re driving, you can still use your phone to talk hands-free. But texting and driving state-wide is strictly illegal.

What do I do If I get a flat tire on the highway?

Flat Tire
Blow outs and flat tires can be one of the scarier things to go wrong for you on the highway.   The AAA says “tire-related” problems are responsible for approximately one-third of all roadside emergencies.   It happens so often that thousands of drivers are dealing with this problem just while you took the time to read this blog entry. About seven times every second!

What Should I Do If I Get a Flat Tire While I’m Driving?

You hear the thumping or bumping, your vehicle might be pulling to the left or right, and you suspect it is an issue with your tires. Don’t panic, put on your emergency flashers. Slow down, and try to get off the road. If you’re near a parking lot, you can pull in to it otherwise, pull off onto the right shoulder as far as possible. The left side shoulder may be an option on certain freeways. You do not want to continue driving far because without air in the tire, there is just a thin piece of rubber between the pavement and your rim. Any extra time driving on that piece of rubber makes it THAT much more likely that a flat tire becomes a blowout. You can easily bend the rim as well if you drive on it for any period of time.
Let those considerations make the choice for you between trying to make the next exit and choosing the nearest shoulder to safely pull off.

Should I Try Fixing a Flat Tire Myself?

The frustration of being on the side of the road on a busy highway is bad. With a lugnut that will not break loose it is even worse. It is something I have experienced myself and I don’t recommend it for anyone. Changing a tire can be a simple task but the complications can easily add up and make calling roadside assistance a good idea.The steps to do it yourself SHOULD be just a matter of loosening a few lug nuts, jacking up the car, swapping wheels and getting the lug nuts tight again. Years without being unscrewed or a previous mechanic using an air wrench that tightens the lugnuts extremely tight make these steps far more difficult.
The easiest repairs quickly can become dangerous. With traffic whizzing by at 70 mph, or if you’ve pulled over so that the flat tire is on the same side as the passing cars and trucks, the risk is even higher.
Fewer and fewer new vehicles have spare tires. The AAA reports that nearly 30 percent of the cars and trucks produced for the 2017 model year rely on alternatives such as run-flat tires and inflator kits instead. And neither will help if you have more than a small hole in your tire.  Run-flat tires are a thing. They contain capsules of lubricant so the tyre can be driven on, flat, for tens of miles at modest speed. Enough to get to a garage. The downside is that once they’re driven on flat, they cannot be repaired.
Most modern vehicles have tire-pressure monitoring, so you ought to know if a tire is going or has gone flat even if you can’t tell by the handling.

The best tool for changing tires

Pew studies for 2017 show that 95% of people have a cellphone while only 70% of new cars have spare tires. Your cellphone may just be the best tool you have for responding to a flat on the highway. Ultimately, your safety is the most important consideration- tires can be replaced, people can not be.

What’s In Your Car’s Emergency Kit?

What's In Your Car's Emergency Kit?
Being prepared can make a huge difference in how you are able to respond to an emergency on the road. Breakdowns and accidents are by nature not planned. You have a spare tire and a basic jack to change a tire, but is that the extent of your car’s emergency kit? Here is a list from on for an emergency kit:
  • First Aid kit. Some of the items to include are:
    • Band-Aids
    • Hand sanitizer.
    • Antiseptic.
    • Antibiotic ointment.
    • Bug spray.
    • Aspirin (or similar).
    • Cotton balls.
    • Gauze pads.
    • Tweezers.
    • Bandana.
    • Ace bandage.
  • Fire extinguisher. Choose a small one that is easy to store.
  • Road flares (if not already in your tire-changing tools).
  • Jumper cables.
  • Rain ponchos.
  • Tarp.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Rags.
  • Duct tape
  • Scent-free baby wipes.
  • Drinking water and non-perishable snacks.
  • Multipurpose tool.
Some optional items for your roadside kit include:
  • Collapsible shuttle.
  • Ice scraper.
  • Cat litter for slick roads.
  • Small battery-powered fan.
  • Blankets and/or warm clothing.
Other great ideas are keeping fluids that are commonly needed. Oil, antifreeze, and brake fluid for your vehicle are excellent choices if you need them in a pinch. If you have an older car, add these to your kit—but if you regularly check your fluids, you shouldn’t need them.

A final suggestion is to include items that suit your family. If you have kids or pets, you can add things like diapers, dehydrated food, dog treats, or a water bowl.

Winter Car Care Tips

Winter Car Care Tips
Winter will be here before you know it. While we don’t see extreme temperatures very often here in Texas, the colder temperatures do take a toll on your car. In order to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape and can get you where you’re going without any worry, there are a few things that need to be checked and maintained.

Battery Power

Cold temperatures significantly reduce the power that your battery puts out. If your battery is getting close to the end of its life, it may be time to invest in a new one. Of course, you can always bring it in to a mechanic or auto parts store to verify that it is still providing enough cranking amps to weather the Winter temperatures.


Making sure your car has a proper amount of anti-freeze will make things much easier on your engine. Anti-freeze lowers the freezing point of the fluid that keep your car from overheating. Your engine requires anti-freeze/coolant to keep moving throughout the engine to maintain its temperature. When your coolant is a frozen block of ice, it could result in expensive damage to your engine!

Windshield Wipers/Wiper Fluid

If it’s below freezing outside and raining, your sight becomes compromised by ice forming on your windshield. The first line of defense against ice forming in your line of sight is a good windshield wiper. If your wipers have tears and cracks in them, they will likely run right over ice that has frozen to the glass. Installing a new set of wipers and filling your wiper fluid reservoir with specially formulated ice melting fluid will help you keep your windshield ice free!

Tire Pressure

Cold weather also means your tires air pressure takes a dip. hen your tires are low on air pressure, they can droop and lift the tread in the center of the tire off of the ground. This is dangerous because the tread of your tire is what gives you traction on wet and icy roads! Once the temperatures drop, double check your tire pressure to the manufacturer’s specifications!

When Should I Get New Brake Pads?

Brake Pads

What’s the one thing you rely on to stop your car? The brakes! Brake pads are the first line of defense to prevent you from getting into a fender-bender. Mashing on the brake pedal has certainly gotten you out of trouble before! So, it’s worth the time to make sure your brakes are in proper working order. Here are a few warning signs that it may be time for a new set of brake pads.



Modern brake pads are designed to make shrill screeching sound when the pads have worn down to a certain level. When you press on the brake and it starts making that sound, head over to our shop and we can get you taken care of.


Vibrating Pedal

When you come to a hard stop and feel the pedal vibrating, that could mean that your brake rotor needs to be resurfaced and, possibly, your brake pads need to be replaced. In modern cars with ABS brake systems, you will feel the pedal vibrate when you come to a hard stop. This is caused by the ABS system stopping the brakes from locking up, helping you keep control of the car.


Stopping Distance

If you’ve noticed that you have to press down on the brake pedal a little harder to make sure you stop in time, that could mean that your brake system needs to be looked at. It could be a leak of brake fluid, or insufficient surface area on your brake pads.


Warning Lights

In most modern cars, they are equipped with a sensor that will notify the driver when it’s time to take a look at the brakes. Check your owner’s manual to see just how your car will let you know. Most cars will flash a light around the speedometer and odometer when you start your car.


Contact Rick’s Radiator and Muffler today at (972)723-8467 for brake repair!


August 2018 Car Events

Ferris Car Show

Ferris ISD School Supply Drive-in
Saturday, August 4th, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. @ 1025 E. 8th St. Ferris, TX 75125
Ferris High School will have a benefit to provide school supplies to less fortunate students. Early Entry fee will be $20 or a backpack full of school supplies. Day of show will be $25 or backpack.
Top 25 awards plus best in show car, truck, and motorcycle.
For more info contact Taylor Oster at 214-263-7899 or

Classic Car, Truck & Lowrider Show

SH Classic Vintage Car Club
Saturday, August 4, 2018 /1PM-6PM @ Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, This will be the Biggest Classic Car show in North Texas. We’ll have Food Trucks, Vendors Exhibits and Old School Music. It will be fun time for the entire family.
Trophies Awarded in Several Classes.
$20 Pre-Registration and $25.00 Day of Show

Peach and Melon Festival Car Show
(Sat) Aug 11, 2018 @ 931 E Navarro Ave, De Leon, TX 76444
Along with a whole day of Peach and Melon Festivities, the Terrill Antique Car Museum in De Leon will be open from 9 to 3pm.
There will also be a Tractor pull at 7:30pm.
For more information:
(254) 893-6600 or

Highland Village Lions Club Balloonfest Car Show

Highland Village Lions Club Balloonfest Car Show
(Sat) Aug 18, 2018 @ Highland Village Unity Park, Highland Village, Texas
Registration 9:30 am to 11:30 am

11th Annual Karem Classic Car Show

11th Annual Karem Classic Car Show
August 25, 2018 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm @ Karem Kamp
400 Karem Circle, Waco, Texas 76712 on Hwy 185 between Hwy 6 and China Spring Road
$30.00 Entry Fee
If you’d like to check out all our entries, spectator admission is free
All Makes and Models
Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles and Scooters
First 100 entries get a Dash Plaque and T-Shirt
All entries are registered for $100 Cash Drawing
Rain or Shine – No Refunds
Lots of Shade, Large Pavilion and Restrooms
Food Concession opens at 7:00 am
Breakfast – Lunch – Soft Drinks

What Is The Zipper Merge?

Zipper Merge

Living in Dallas – Fort Worth has its upsides. There’s always plenty of things to do, more restaurants than we could ever eat at and very mild Winters. But, there is one major drawback: traffic. Living in a highly concentrated urban area means continual growth and construction to accommodate that growth. It’s no secret that the bulk of our highways are under some form of construction at all times. It feels like Interstate 35W in Fort Worth has been under construction for the better part of a decade. With knowing that there’s a good chance that anywhere you go in the metroplex, it’s a good idea to know what a zipper merge is.

Why is it called a zipper merge?

A zipper merge is when a lane is being blocked off ahead of you and they are forcing your lane to merge into another lane. In a perfect world, the drivers in the lane that is being closed are waiting until the moment when they have no more room to drive in their lane and are merging into the other lane, much like a zipper (hence the name).

The problem with the zipper merge is that drivers tend to believe that merging before they have to, in anticipation of the merge, are causing traffic to slow to a much slower pace than is necessary.

Why does this happen?

A slowdown is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to reach the point of stopping completely! When you zipper merge, both lanes of traffic are traveling at the same speed up until the point of merging. When a driver merges too soon, it slows down the lane that is not merging and causes multiple slowdowns, resulting in stop-and-go traffic. Long story short: merge into the open lane when you are forced to, instead of trying to get a jump on the cars in front of you. You may think you’re doing a good deed, but you’re likely causing the traffic to be a little slower that it has to be.