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Factors That Can Affect Your Car’s Fuel Economy

car performance kit at Hillside Auto Repair in Torrance

A low fuel economy means that your vehicle does not run as efficiently as it could. It also means that you lose money at the fuel pumps since you fill up more often. Below are some factors that can affect your fuel economy.

How You Drive

Perhaps the most significant factor that affects your vehicle’s MPG (miles per gallon) is how you drive. Aggressive driving such as speeding or rapid braking and acceleration can reduce your gas mileage by up to 15 to 30 percent at highway speeds, and 10 to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic.

Driving at higher speeds reduces your MPG due to the increased aerodynamic drag (wind resistance). Excessive idling also decreases your MPG.

Carrying excessive weight or towing a trailer decreases fuel economy. Most vehicle manufacturers assume that their vehicles will only carry three hundred pounds of cargo and passengers during testing. Furthermore, loading on top of your car (cargo racks, boxes, canoes, etc.) lowers MPG due to the increased aerodynamic drag.

Running electrical accessories on “Max” such as air conditioners decreases gas mileage by up to five to 25 percent.

Driving on unpaved roads, on mountainous or hilly terrain, and using four-wheel drive reduces your fuel economy because your engine works harder. It also increases transfer case problems and differential losses.

Cold Weather

Cold weather lowers MPG since engines do not efficiently operate until they are warmed up. Note that letting your vehicle run idle to warm-up the engine does not help. It uses more fuel, which creates more pollution.

Regular Car Maintenance Increases Fuel Economy

Improperly inflated or aligned tires can lower gas mileage due to increased rolling resistance. Brake drag makes your engine work harder, and dirty air filters reduce the MPG of older car models with carbureted engines.

A Clean Car Improves Your Gas Mileage

Though often overlooked, a clean or waxed vehicle allows air to move across its surface freely (less resistance). A dirty car limits the surface airflow causing increased friction and reducing your MPG. 

The finding is credited to a study by Mythbusters during episode 127. The experts carried out two tests on the same vehicle (once clean and once dirty). After several tests, they discovered that a clean car averaged two MPG more compared to a dirty one.

Engine Performance Service

A poorly tuned engine will burn more fuel. Therefore, regularly servicing your engine will increase your gas mileage. You should have your engine serviced when you notice one or more of the following:

  • Poor fuel efficiency
  • Slow response
  • Loss of power
  • Excessive smoke

Apart from increasing fuel economy and saving money at the pump, having your engine serviced results in reliable performance and longer oil change intervals. It also restores engine power and balance and improves spark plug life.

The Bottom Line

A low fuel economy means that your vehicle does not run as efficiently as it could and that you are losing money because you fill up more often. Some factors attributing to low gas mileage include poor driving habits; incorrect tire pressure; bad air filters, oxygen sensors, fuel injectors, and spark plugs; excessive use of your air conditioner; and idling. You can improve your MPG by regularly maintaining your vehicle and servicing your engine.

Call Hillside Auto Repair in Torrance at (310) 373-7676 or request an appointment online to schedule a maintenance check on your car, or a Performance Service on your conventional or hybrid vehicle.

 

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