Even when gas prices are low, filling up can take a major chunk out of your wallet. Whether you drive a hybrid or a big SUV, there are plenty of ways to improve your vehicle’s gas mileage.
Change Your Driving Habits
In modern cars, the fuel injectors shut off when the car is moving and your foot is off the pedal, letting the wheels spin the engine via the transmission instead of the other way around. Once the car stops, the injectors start spraying fuel to keep the engine idling. Use this to your advantage, coasting to stop lights instead of pulling up and waiting for them.
Be gentle with the throttle to keep the transmission from shifting down: this will keep the motor running at a low RPM where it will use less fuel.
Modern cars are designed to be warmed up by driving, not by idling. This winter, when your car starts, just take it easy until the temperature gauge starts moving instead of waiting for the engine to warm up while the car sits in the driveway.
Check Your Tires
If your car’s wheels aren’t properly aligned, the rubber on the tires will scrub against the pavement as they roll. Obviously, this can wear down your tires quickly, but all that scrubbing makes the wheels harder to turn, requiring more fuel to keep your car going down the road. Most people don’t take their car in for an alignment until they notice abnormal tire wear or the car pulls to one direction, but having it checked every 10,000 miles will ensure you’ll spend less money at the tire shop and at the pump.
If it’s time to get some new rubber, consider a set of low rolling resistance tires. These are designed to flex less as they roll down the road, decreasing the energy it takes to move the vehicle. While early LRR tires had terrible grip, the technology has improved to a point that they’re factory equipment on almost all modern cars.
Speaking of tire flex, a tire that’s low on air flexes more than one that’s at the correct pressure. Checking the pressure of your tires at least once a month can reduce flex and increase fuel economy. Not sure what pressure your tires should be at? Open the driver’s door and you should see a small sticker with this information near the door sill.
Check the Air Filter
The engine pumps air into the cylinders, which takes energy. Put a dirty filter in the way, and it takes a lot more energy. How long a filter will last will depend on your engine design. Your owner’s manual will tell you how frequently it should be replaced, but if you regularly drive on dirt roads, it may need to be replaced more often.
Check Your Oil
When buying oil, look at the American Petroleum Institute “donut” on the back label. To get the best fuel economy, you should use the lowest viscosity oil recommended by the manufacturer, shown in the center of the donut, and that oil should meet the recommended service rating, shown in the top of the donut. The lower half of this circular symbol should say “energy conserving.” That means the oil meets API’s specification for low friction oils, reducing the effort your engine needs to run, increasing fuel economy.
Newer cars have longer intervals between oil changes, but that means they need higher quality filters to keep the oil clean over these extended periods. Make sure the filter you’re buying says it meets current vehicle warranty requirements. Dirty oil can strain the oil pump, and the added wear can reduce your engine’s fuel economy and reliability over time.
Lose Some Weight
The more weight your vehicle is carrying, the harder the engine has to work. Cleaning a few receipts out of the glove box won’t make much of a difference, but if you have a load of stuff in the trunk or the back seats that you’ve been meaning to remove, now is the time.
Improve Your Car’s Aerodynamics
At highway speeds, it takes more power to overcome wind resistance than any other factor to keep your car moving. Removing roof racks and cargo carriers when they’re not in use can reap big benefits at the pump. Have some body damage? If anything is bent or hanging loose, it can greatly increase your car’s profile, which means more air has to be moved to go down the road.
If your car needs some body work or the wheels need to be aligned, visit the experts at Merton Auto Body. We’re a one stop shop for everything you need to keep your car’s frame, body and paint like new: along with collision repair and alignments, we also do detailing, paint correction, and hail damage repair.