car driving on roadToday, cars are built to last longer and drive more miles. Yet you may notice that your vehicle burns through fuel at a faster rate, causing you to put more money towards gas and maintenance. If you’re concerned about poor fuel economy, learn about the causes and key signs.

Poor Fuel Economy Related to the Engine

Getting fewer miles per gallon often comes down to one or more of the following factors:

  • Damaged Fuel Injectors: The fuel injectors supply the engine with a stream of fuel. A dirty, clogged or damaged filter affects the spray pattern and accuracy of fuel delivery. As a result, your engine gets too little fuel or consumes and burns too much.
  • Dirty Oxygen Sensor: A feature of newer vehicles, oxygen sensors monitor the engine’s air-to-fuel ratio. A dirty or damaged oxygen sensor cannot discern the proper ratio and may communicate to your vehicle that the engine requires more fuel.
  • Dirty Airflow Sensor: This part assesses the quality of air passing into the engine and helps the oxygen sensor and fuel injector deliver the proper air-to-fuel ratio. An inaccurate reading can influence the amount of fuel your engine receives.
  • Old Air Filters: Air filters ensure debris and other particles are not passing into and clogging the engine. An old filter may be saturated with dirt or torn and can’t perform this action as expected. Affecting fuel economy, your engine has to work harder and cannot cool itself as effectively. Based on the make and model of your vehicle, air filters should be changed every 15,000 to 30,000 miles.
  • Clogged Fuel Filter: A clogged or damaged filter influences how fuel travels through the engine, including to feed the fuel injectors. This factor can also divert above or below average amounts of fuel to the engine.
  • Older Piston Rings: In relation to the combustion process, older, worn or damaged piston rings affect how well the engine cylinders operate. This sign may indicate that your engine needs new oil.
  • Oil Issues: Thicker is not always better, especially if particles and debris are making the oil viscous. Too-thin or gritty fuel places greater wear on your engine, requiring more power and fuel for a lower output. Along with regular oil changes and other routine maintenance, make sure your vehicle is using the appropriate oil based on mileage to ensure sufficient lubrication.
  • Ignition System Concerns: The ignition system aids the combustion process. Misfiring, along with poor fuel economy, can indicate that the engine is not receiving enough power – an issue that often relates to the spark plugs.

Other Potential Issues

Poor fuel economy doesn’t always involve the engine. Fewer miles per gallon may be a result of:

  • Tire Issues: Beyond traction, tires influence how well your vehicle rides and the resistance it experiences in relation to the ground. Underinflating requires more force to move and places greater resistance on your vehicle, also known as “drag”.
  • Older Brakes: More likely to stick, older brakes create more resistance for your vehicle and cause it to consume more fuel.
  • Alignment: Poor alignment places greater strain on your vehicle, resulting in uneven tire wear, insufficient traction and more drag, all of which increase fuel consumption.
  • Where and How You Drive: If you drive in a colder climate, your car automatically experiences decreased fuel economy due to the effect of lower temperatures on the combustion process and tires. Regularly transporting heavy loads with a trailer or on the roof adds more weight and resistance. Driving more miles also causes parts to wear out sooner, increasing the amount of fuel the car goes through.
  • Age: Even if you keep up with regularly scheduled maintenance, age can still impact fuel economy. Ignoring routine upkeep can cause your vehicle to experience more wear at a quicker pace, which then impacts fuel economy.
  • Idling: This common winter habit might mean that your car goes through more fuel during the older months.

Are you concerned about poor fuel economy? Have the technicians at DaSilva’s Auto Body run diagnostic tests to identify the source of the issue. To learn more, contact us today!