How to maximize your car’s fuel efficiency and save money
Published: July 30, 2022
By: Pete Zavarelli - JustAnswer.com Auto Expert
Author Website: Click to Visit
After the past few years of staying close to home, this summer most of us are eager to get back on the road to take a well-deserved family vacation or two. However, if you’re planning to drive to your summer getaway destination, soaring gas prices at the pump present a new challenge. The good news, according to JustAnswer Auto Expert Pete Zavarelli, is that there are several things you can do now to maximize your car’s fuel efficiency and still take that road trip without breaking the bank. Here are a few of his best expert tips.
- Make sure your tires are aired up to the correct specifications. Most manufacturers leave a sticker on the driver’s side inside the door jamb or inside the fuel door with the tire specifications. It is a good idea to inflate to about 2 psi over that specification number to make up for temperature variations with the tires when driven on the road (as they generate heat which increases pressure) and the outside temperatures (as colder temperatures will lower pressure slightly).
- Make sure your engine air filter is clean. It is recommended to replace it once a year.
- Make sure your fuel filter is good. Most newer models do not have a fuel filter that can be replaced separately from the fuel pump itself, but if your model does have an external filter, make sure it is replaced once a year.
- Make sure your tires are in good shape and the correct size. Incorrect size tires or damaged tires can aid with poor fuel economy.
- Most vehicles use a mass air flow sensor which aids the computer with telling it how much air is entering the engine. If this sensor becomes dirty or defective, the engine computer can/will push more fuel through the engine than is needed.
- Make sure the engine is running at the correct temperature. Most model vehicles will run about half way on the coolant temperature gauge. If it is running lower this will cause the engine to run too rich with too much fuel being added. In most cases, a simple thermostat replacement will resolve this issue.
- It is a good idea to have your braking system checked over. If a brake caliper or the brake master cylinder is putting excess pressure on the brake pads, this will cause the brakes to drag on the brake rotors which also leads to more fuel usage.
- There is no need to warm up your vehicle for an extended time if it is fuel injected. This will only burn off more fuel. Usually in most cases a couple of minutes in the warmer weather is sufficient. In colder temps, I would only recommend warming up until your defrost is working properly to thaw out any cold or frozen windshields.
- Try not to idle too long. If you are stuck in a traffic jam and you know it may be several minutes or longer before you are able to drive again you might try shutting off your engine to save on fuel if you can.
- Take it easy when using the throttle/gas pedal. There is no hurry. In most cases, people that accelerate heavily or speed up to get to where they are going end up in the same traffic line as others who remain patient. The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you are going to end up using.
- Most manufacturers will list online what their model vehicles will use for fuel in the city and on the highway. Keep in mind, those are in optimal conditions. In most cases your vehicle will get close to that mileage, but it usually is not exact.
- If you have any warning lights coming up on the dash, I recommend having a diagnostic test performed to see what the issues are. In many cases faulty components like oxygen sensors can also cause poor fuel economy. It is also a good idea to have the oxygen sensors replaced every 100,000 miles even if no warning light has come on, as they tend to wear down and read incorrectly, which leads to poor fuel economy.
- Look into some apps on your phone for fuel centers. For example, Conoco has an app that can save you up to 25 cents per gallon if you link an account with them and use direct pay. That 25 cents per gallon adds up.
- If you have the opportunity to carpool, that is also another great way to save on fuel costs.
- Don’t skip out by purchasing lower grade fuel. If your vehicle calls for Unleaded plus, make sure to use Unleaded plus and not the regular Unleaded to save. Vehicles that require higher octane fuel need that higher octane fuel to operate properly and preserve engine life.
- Last but not least, if you have more than one vehicle, during these times with high fuel costs and the inflation issues we are seeing, it is a good idea to drive the vehicle that gets the better fuel mileage. Put the truck away and use it only when needed. I myself have had to do the same for now.
About Peter Zavarelli, JustAnswer Auto Expert
Peter Zavarelli is an automotive repair expert at JustAnswer. His specialty is diagnosing any engine running issues with domestic or European vehicles, as well as electrical diagnosis and repairs. He has been helping customers with their vehicle-related questions for over 10 years.
JustAnswer (www.justanswer.com) is a platform that connects people with live doctors, lawyers, vets, mechanics and other verified and vetted experts for real-time assistance, insight and answers to just about any question or problem 24/7. With more than 12,000 experts across 150 categories, JustAnswer is the leading destination for accessing affordable professional help on-demand when and from wherever you need it. Founded in 2003, JustAnswer has helped more than 16 million customers in 64 languages across 196 countries.