pumping gasWhen gas prices are on the rise, you might look for ways to improve your car’s fuel economy. You still have places to be and want to stretch your tank of gas for as long as possible. As purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle is not an option for everyone, consider the following factors.

The Gas Cap

A broken cap allows fuel to evaporate from your vehicle and into the environment, where it contributes to smog. If the cap feels loose or no longer has a tight seal, chances are it needs to be replaced.

Cargo and Weight

Many of us have some degree of clutter in our vehicles but food wrappers might not make a difference. On the other hand, bike racks, cargo boxes and routine transport of heavy equipment and sporting gear do. If you lug around an extra 100 pounds, fuel economy is decreased by one percent – smaller vehicles tend to see a bigger impact than larger ones.

If you need to transport a heavy item, roof carriers change your vehicle’s aerodynamic properties, consuming more fuel in the process. Meanwhile, a rack or cargo box strapped to the rear creates less drag. A roof-mounted cargo box can impact fuel economy by as much as 17 percent, compared to five percent for rear-mounted fixtures.

Do Not Idle

Idling consumes more fuel than restarting your car, while generating nearly double the pollution compared to when you’re on the go. Especially in start-and-stop traffic, you can go through half a gallon of fuel more per hour than if you restart your car each time.

As such, especially if you’ll be waiting for more than a few minutes, turn off the engine rather than keeping your foot on the brake. Plan to take routes with fewer stoplights, where you won’t have to brake or accelerate frequently.

Watch Engine Use and Temperature

Running your engine in freezing temperatures and driving in hot conditions both cause your car to go through more fuel. During winter, start up your car and drive at a moderate pace to increase engine temperature. This places less stress than immediately accelerating. Also consider using a block heater, as the engine warms up at a faster pace.

In the summertime, look for a spot to park in the shade so you don’t have to rely as heavily on the air conditioning when the car is too hot. As you’re driving on a hot day, cool your car by rolling the windows down to minimize use of the car’s cooling system.

Oil Type

Oil type also makes a difference in how the engine operates. Too heavy and it can generate friction, requiring your engine to work harder and consume more fuel.

Driving Habits

How you drive contributes to the amount of fuel your car goes through. Speeds faster than 50 MPH cause your vehicle to consume more gas. Using cruise control can result in less fuel consumption.

Avoid start-and-stop driving. Specifically, limit braking hard and quickly, and take routes that involve less stopping. Based on how fast you’re traveling, these habits can decrease fuel economy by as much as 40 percent. Considering these points:

  • Use an “easy pass” on toll roads, so you don’t have to stop and pay.
  • For manual transmission, use your brake instead of downshifting when you need to slow down.
  • Map out your route, so you’re not taking roads with multiple stoplights.
  • Keep your foot off the pedal brake, which increases how much gas your car goes through and can wear out the brakes sooner. Instead, keep the foot on the floor until you need to use the gas.

Watch Tire Pressure

Driving on tires deflated by seven pounds can decrease fuel economy by as much as three percent, along with greater wear on the treads. Get in the habit of checking the tire pressure at least once per month, as temperature changes of at least 10 degrees can affect tire pressure and fuel economy.

Keep Up with Maintenance

Aspects of the combustion process and engine performance can affect how much fuel your car consumes. Old, worn or dirty spark plugs, air filters and oil all cause the systems to work harder, in addition to increasing the emissions your car generates. As such, stay ahead of regularly scheduled maintenance to have your vehicle assessed and the necessary parts replaced.

Along with these factors, vehicle alignment can cause the engine to work harder, consume more fuel and the tires to experience uneven wear. Especially if you recently drove over a pothole or your car slid in slippery conditions, have the alignment checked out and adjusted.
Whether for regularly scheduled maintenance, alignment, emissions or an oil change, bring your car to DaSilva’s Auto Body to keep it running efficiently. To make an appointment, contact our Naugatuck shop today.