May is nearly over, bringing Eco Driving Month to a close, but it’s always a good time of year to maximize fuel economy and save at the pump. Regular car maintenance can help you do that. Here are some often overlooked maintenance issues that can help you squeeze out a few more mpg:
A combustion engine needs two things to get you going: fuel and air, and in the right proportions. If your oxygen sensors are worn, your engine may be getting incorrect air/fuel mixtures, which could mean you’re burning more fuel than you need.
New O2 sensors may save you up to +3 mpg.
A missing or ill-fitting gas cap allows the fuel in your tank to evaporate. That means the money you put in at the pump is disappearing into thin air. To conserve your fuel for its intended purpose, make sure to screw on your fuel cap tightly (at least three to four clicks if applicable). If you don’t have one, or yours has been damaged, get one!
A properly fitting fuel cap may save you up to +2 mpg.
Spark plugs start the fuel combustion reaction. If they’re worn out, your engine may be inefficiently burning fuel.
New spark plugs may save you up to +2 mpg.
O2 sensors make sure that your engine gets the right amount of air for proper combustion, but your air filter makes sure that the quality of air is conducive to efficient combustion. And since your engine may require up to 10,000 gallons of air for every 1 gallon of fuel, it’s easy for air filters to get clogged quickly. Air filters should be checked, and probably changed, at every oil change.
A new oil filter may save you up to +2 mpg.
The quality of fuel is important to efficient combustion, too. Dirty fuel introduces contaminants into your engine that can impede performance, requiring your engine to work harder to produce the power. (Investing in high quality gasoline with additives and detergents that help prevent engine buildup is also a good idea.)
A new fuel filter may save you up to +1.5 mpg.
Think of how much energy it takes to push a shopping cart with a stray wheel in a straight line. That’s how your engine feels when your wheels aren’t properly aligned. When you have to constantly tug at the wheel (or at least keep a firm grip) to keep your wheels from straying, you increase resistance where the rubber meets the road, making your engine work hard.
Properly aligned wheels may save you up to +1.5 mpg.
The increased resistance that poor wheel alignment causes will happen with under-inflated tires, too. To keep them rolling smoothly without putting extra strain on the engine, tires should always be inflated to manufacturer’s specifications (with some considerations for climactic conditions).
Properly inflated tires may save you +1-2 mpg.
The purpose of oil is to reduce friction in the engine. If there’s sediment or other contaminants in the oil, the lubricant itself will introduce friction, which will reduce the engine’s efficiency and may eventually cause damage to moving internal parts.
Clean engine oil may save you up to +1 mpg.
While the mpg loss associated with these maintenance issues may seem small, they add up. Together, these issues alone can save you up to 14 mpg. Multiply that by the capacity of your tank and see how many more miles you can cover with a well maintained car.
If you are seeing diminished fuel economy from your car, take the time to do some DIY maintenance—fill up the tires and tighten the gas cap. To take care of everything else, bring your car to Quanz Advanced Auto Body.