Many modern vehicles are built with efficiency in mind. Some are more efficient than others, obviously, but even traditional “gas guzzling” models guzzle less gas than they have in the past. There are a few reasons for this. For one, it’s often regulatory. Additionally, it helps the environment which is certainly on the minds of many people. But, if we’re being honest, one of the big motivators for gas mileage efficiency is the monetary savings involved. Less time at the pump means more money in your wallet. So, there are many benefits to having a car with efficient gas mileage.
What many people may not realize is that many different factors can affect a vehicle’s gas mileage. Typically, we think of it as something that’s just part of a vehicle’s design. We shop for fuel efficient cars and that’s all, right? Not quite. Did you know that some types of auto repair can actually improve your gas mileage?
Whether it’s a fuel sipping car or a more gas hungry truck, many vehicles begin to lose some of their relative efficiency over time as wear and tear occur. This includes the innards becoming dirty from use and lack of proper fluid changes. Many factors make up your vehicle’s present day mileage. What this means is, if you’ve been driving your vehicle for a number of years, the efficiency may have diminished if you haven’t kept up with your routine maintenance. The good news is, with some fixes you can improve your gas mileage.
Many of these repairs aren’t even major issues. They are relatively simple and not terribly expensive. You just need to bring your vehicle in for an evaluation to see what exactly could be affecting your gas mileage negatively. You’d be surprised how many different places in your vehicle could be hindering your fuel efficiency. Here are some of the common reasons why your gas mileage might have diminished with time and how to improve it.
Mass Air Flow Sensor
Vehicles are more computerized than at any time before in our history. It’s a pretty convenient thing and there are many benefits to it. However, just like with any computer, it can only process the data it’s given. The computer relies on signals sent by other components of the vehicle and when those components are compromised, the computer may be inaccurate. Case in point, take the mass air flow sensor.
The mass air flow sensor measures air flow into the engine and prompts the computer to regulate fuel injection. If the sensor becomes dirty or damaged, the readings become inaccurate. This can throw off the balance of the vehicle’s fuel economy, causing the engine to “work harder” than it really needs to due to the inaccurate air flow readings. Get that sensor cleaned up, and you can improve engine efficiency.
Here we have a similar story. This isn’t terribly different from the mass air flow sensor issue. The biggest difference is that the oxygen sensor is even more difficult to get to in order to fix. The oxygen sensor monitors the exhaust flow before and after the catalytic converter. If the exhaust flow can’t be properly read, then the engine and regulation of fuel injection become affected. Much like with the mass air flow sensor, fuel economy will be altered because of the engine computer being misled by the dirty oxygen sensor. It’s generally recommended that sensors be replaced after 100,000 miles. You may not need to change sensors often, but when the time finally comes years into ownership, it’s something you should do. Your computer does a lot in your vehicle, but you have to help it along by making sure it’s always taking accurate readings to maximize performance.
Spark plugs have an important job. They take the electric current from the ignition and deliver it to the engine in order to spark the combustion that makes it work. Basically, without spark plugs, you aren’t going very far. There are varying opinions on when you should change your spark plugs. Some manufacturers boast a 100,000 lifespan for their spark plugs. This is generally not best practice, though. Consider that by 80,000 miles a spark plug is nearly entirely worn out. The typical spark plug more realistically lasts about 60,000 to 70,000 miles. You don’t want to use the same spark plug if it’s hanging on by a thread.
If you swap out your spark plugs when necessary and they don’t get to a point where they’re too worn down, you can keep your gas mileage where it should be. New spark plugs can give your engine efficiency a boost. You may even want to get your spark plugs checked every 30,000 miles.
Sensing a pattern yet? The air flow that goes in and out of your engine has a significant effect on how well your vehicle performs. A dirty air filter is something every mechanic is very familiar with because it’s so common. If you leave the same air filter in your car for too long, you’re causing unnecessary strain and your gas mileage will suffer. Your air filter has an even more detrimental effect on your gas mileage if your vehicle is over ten years old. Manufacturers give different recommendations for when you should switch your air filter. The range is typically between 30,000 and 45,000 miles.
Your oil and your tires, which we’ll get to next, are two things you should always be keeping an eye on. Making sure are both in proper shape can affect your fuel economy by up to 3% for each. While 3% doesn’t sound like much on paper, it adds up over years certainly. It may be cents on the dollar, but that quickly adds up to many dollars with time. There are two things at play when it comes to your motor oil. For one thing, you need to be using the recommended grade established by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If you use the wrong oil, you affect your vehicle’s efficiency. The second thing is old oil can clog up the system. Dirty oil that turns into sludge is one of the most common ways to kill your engine. Get it changed every 4,000 miles or so.
Finally, there are your tires. It stands to reason that if your tires aren’t properly inflated, the vehicle has to work harder in order to reach speed and maintain control. By keeping your tires inflated to the recommended limit, you relieve some of the strain on your vehicle and improve your vehicle mileage by a couple percentage points.
Auto repair isn’t always a major project. Sometimes even simple maintenance related fixes can have a major effect on your vehicle. When it comes to gas mileage, making sure your vehicle is taken care of can actually save you money in the long run. But, if you haven’t brought your vehicle in for routine maintenance lately, your fuel efficiency could be suffering. Call us today to schedule an appointment to bring your vehicle in. The team at Independent Motors is here to provide you with the auto repair services you need at a fair price to make sure your vehicle is running at its best.