Have you ever wondered why sometimes you seem to be able to drive miles and miles without having to fill up and other times when it seems like you are doing nothing but continually pumping gas into your vehicle? At Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive, we are often asked why this occurs.
Many things come into play that causes this fluctuation. The good news is that there are things you can do as a vehicle owner and driver that can improve your MPG and save you money at the gas pump.
Ease off the Gas Pedal
While it’s tempting to go full on The Fast and The Furious when behind the wheel, living out your wildest fantasies of being in a high-speed chase, this is regrettably not the best way to save on fuel. So, slow down and ease up off the accelerator. Aside from the obvious safety concerns of delayed reaction times and the risk of higher velocity crashes from traveling at higher speeds, you’re also putting much more strain on your engine and exhausting more gas.
The more your car must work to accelerate to your desired speed, the more fuel you’ll be burning than you need to be. Cars can vary based on make and model at which speeds they efficiently burn fuel, but it’s a standard baseline that most cars burn fuel less efficiently at speeds higher than 60 miles per hour.
If you live in an area where going 60 is the bare minimum speed to keep with traffic that moves more at a pace of 70 miles per hour or higher, there are ways to keep with the flow of traffic, but still, ration your fuel. Coasting to red lights, stop signs, or down exit ramps is a great way to be more fuel efficient. Never in my life will I understand people who drive 60 mph up to the red light only to slam their brakes 100 ft. away. By doing this, you’ll be exhausting fuel by heading unnecessarily fast towards a stopping point, and your car will have to use more energy to slow down abruptly. Besides, coasting to your stop is just a more relaxing way to drive.
If you live in an area with highways or long interrupted stretches of road, cruise control also helps to burn fuel more efficiently by reducing the need to accelerate and brake. Although, if you live somewhere hilly, your cruise control will need to accelerate much more.
To utilize the spaces that we have to store our belongings, it’s easy for our cars to sometimes turn into cargo trucks. Know that the more weight you put in your vehicle, the less fuel efficient your car or truck will be. Similar to how humans and animals carrying more weight burn more calories because our bodies have to work harder to carry the weight, your car engine will have to work harder to run while supporting excess weight in your car.
Whether you’re using your car for storage, or there are long forgotten items stowed in your trunk, or if you’re like me and have emergency drinking water in the back of your SUV in case you and your vehicle were to get stranded, you’d be surprised much everything inside your car accumulates to weigh. To help increase your fuel efficiency, be conscientious of what you’re storing in your car.
For most of us, we don’t give much thought to our fuel cap outside of popping it open to refuel on gasoline. Once we turn the cap closed and it goes click, we’re usually on our merry way. But, when considering ways to improve your gas mileage, the integrity of your gas cap is an important consideration. Over time, the rubber seal on your cap, creating an airtight lock for your gas tank, will begin to wear down, allowing oxygen to leak into your gas tank. While this isn’t necessarily dangerous, it will force your engine to burn more gas, which increases your fuel consumption. Also, you just don’t want to risk any gasoline sloshing out of your car as you turn a corner. Luckily, replacing your gas tank is fairly cheap and easy maintenance work.
You’d think your tires might not have much to do with fuel efficiency. After all, they’re not directly working with your fuel or your engine, only spinning around propelling you forward (or backward). However, keeping your tires properly inflated is one of the easiest ways to improve your gas mileage. Driving on low tires pressure increases your rolling resistance, which makes your car have to work harder and robs you of precious fuel. This is easy to maintain by keeping a check on your tire pressures frequently and filling them up as needed.
It’s always best to keep your motor oil and oil filters clean and to use the type of motor oil recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Depending on the make and model of your car, your engine was designed to work best with a specific type of oil. It varies car by car - oil too thick can cause friction or oil too lubricated can damage other internal mechanisms. Make sure you know what motor oil to use with whatever vehicle you drive.
General Vehicle Maintenance
This is solid advice for all car owners – keep up to date with general car maintenance or any other repairs your vehicle might need. When it comes to owning a car, sometimes you have to spend money to be saving money.
And while your buddy Jeff from down the street may assure you he can fix up your car for $20, its always the safest bet to take your car to a professional mechanic or repair center. It’s much easier to address maintenance and repair work early on before it spirals out of control. If something does go wrong with your car while you’re out traversing the world, because, these things happen, it’s always important to keep a roadside assistance number on your phone.
One specific maintenance that directly helps improve mileage is keeping your air filters clean and clear, and replacing them once they begin to become dirty and clogged. A clogged filter makes your engine work harder to draw air to mix with the fuel.
Essentially, when it comes to improving your fuel efficiency, it’s all about making your vehicle not have to work so hard to get you where you’re needing to go.