Thursday, May 24, 2007

Double Your Customers' Gas Mileage

Is it truly possible to double a vehicle's gas mileage without reconfiguring the engine or the vehicle? Maybe.

I recently saw this undocumented, unverified, unscientific analysis of one car owner's gas mileage improvement plan. His claim was, "I'll tell you secret ways to double your gas mileage that the gas companies don't want you to know". Of course I had to watch the video, with that sort of an introduction. After watching it, I know first-hand that some of his ideas work, but question the pure acetone.

Some of his recommendations:
1 - Make sure the vehicle tires are inflated to the correct air pressure. This is almost always the number one thief of good gas mileage. Can improve gas mileage by 1 - 5 mpg. (Note to self - check air pressure in scooter.) Consumer Federation of America says up to 25% of cars on American roads do not have properly inflated tires

2 - Check your air filter and replace if necessary. Can improve gas mileage by 1-2 mpg. CFA says this can save as much as $.28/gallon (that really depends on the cost of the gallon).

3 - Turn off your car's engine if you are idling for more than 30 seconds. I generally turn off my car whenever I'm stopped at RR tracks for more than a minute. This action invariably moves the train out of my way in 1.2 minutes. End result, I don't think I save much gas.

4 - Add pure acetone to the fuel tank. This automotive scientist added two ounces of pure acetone to a ten-gallon tank of fuel. He claims it increased his mpg by 10 mpg, going from 34 mpg to 44 mpg. Would this really work? Of course, his disclaimer was - this is highly flammable (duh!) and only use pure acetone. Has anyone ever heard of this? Who or how does one determine the correct proportions to mix? This "fix" reminds me of the crazy way some people seat truck tires on rims. Just pour a little gas or ether into the tire, toss a match in, and BOOM, watch the beads seat themselves - no fuss no muss. Only one problem - when the next person goes to remove the tire from the rim, there's potentially another BOOM, and this time it could take a person's head off. DO NOT use ether or gasoline to help seat any tire to a rim.

With gas prices rising almost hourly, this can truly be the beginning of a boom time for repair shops. Though people are talking about reducing the amount of driving they are doing, or will do, they haven't slowed down yet. They will be looking for ways to improve gas mileage, and if you market your shop well, they will beat a path to your door.

Now is a great time to develop a strategy to bring the business in. Consider a "Summer Tune-up" special, that includes a simple oil change, tire pressure check, fluid and filter check, all for a reasonable amount of $ that makes sense for you, and provides a value to your customer. If you take care of them now, they'll come back in the future for the big jobs.

Other savings ideas from the Consumer Federation of America include:

Alignments: Wheels that are properly aligned can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.

Tune-up the Engine: A properly tuned engine can improve gas mileage by up to 4% ($.11/gallon).

Gas Cap: 17% of cars on US roads are missing gas caps. This can cost the consumer up to $.02/gallon.

Clean out the trunk: Save 1-2% for every 100 pounds you can clear out.

Drive Slower - It's tough to sell this to a customer, but if a driver reduces their speed from 70 mph to 65 mph, they will save 7%, or as much as $1.17/gallon.

Are you spotting a trend here? There is opportunity to increase your sales with existing customers, and bring in new customers. Create a simple checklist for your customers when they come in for their Summer Tuneup. It can be two-part.

Part One: List the jobs included on the tune-up: Oil change, Check air filter, check oil filter, top off fluids, check tire pressure, check wiper blades, check gas cap, check history of performed work, provide recommended future work (example: oil change in 3,000 miles, radiator flush in 5,000 miles, etc.)

Part Two: List the jobs the customer can do themselves to improve gas mileage: Empty the trunk, sign up for a lifetime wheel alignment, drive slower, reduce fast starts off the red light, ease up on the brakes.

They will thank you for the paid work you provide, and the "free advice" as well, by bringing more business your way in the future.

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