The Ultimate Guide to Saving Fuel While Driving ( Part 2 )

From part one on how to save fuel we saw how adopting driving best practices can help you save fuel. In this part 2, we want to see how maintenance can help you.

17 June 2022, 0712hrs

How To Save Gas: Important Maintenance

Inflation and Maintenance of Tires

Tire monitoring has a significant impact on not just your handling and tire wear, but also your fuel efficiency. Under-inflated tires lie flatter on the road surface, causing more friction and drag. To maintain speed, your car will have to work more, consuming more fuel and impairing your ability to brake and control the vehicle.

Under-inflated tires will wear faster and unevenly as a result of increased contact with the road, but more critically, excessive heat buildup while you drive can lead to tire failure and major accidents.

Depending on the vehicle make and model, the manufacturer may recommend a different optimal tire pressure for the best handling and fuel economy, so check your owner's handbook. Invest in a tire pressure gauge to correctly test your tire pressure at least once a month and always check it before towing or hauling big objects.

Don't just rely on your eyes to tell if your tire needs air. Use a tire pressure gauge and check the tires after the car has been parked for at least 3 hours for the most accurate pressure readings, as driving heats the air inside the tires and effectively boosts the pressure measurement. Also, keep in mind that on really hot summer days, tire pressure can rise, so you'll need to check the pressure more frequently to ensure the tires aren't overinflated.

Check the alignment of your wheels.

Don't forget about wheel alignment while we're on the subject of tire inflation. It's self-evident that if a car isn't rolling straight with all four wheels at the same angle, it won't obtain the best fuel economy. All of the characteristics that help your car go straight, such as caster, camber, and toe, are referred to as wheel alignment. These elements are calibrated to exacting requirements.

And these requirements can be distorted if you hit a large pothole and your suspension is knocked out of alignment, in which case you will need to readjust it. You'll need to drive your automobile to an auto shop, where a mechanic will adjust your car using standard dimensions as a guide.

Make sure your brakes aren't dragging.

Many people are shocked to hear that brakes are vital not only for stopping and slowing down, but also for getting the best gas mileage. Maintaining your brakes properly and checking for dragging brakes are two ways to save gas while driving.

Brake difficulties, such as anything causing your brake to only partially apply or release, might increase your vehicle's rolling resistance. This means that the engine will have to work harder to compensate for the problem. Anything that makes your engine work harder will use more fuel than is necessary.

If you discover that the accelerator has to be depressed further than usual to reach typical driving speeds, or if you detect excessive gray dust on the wheels and tires during routine maintenance, you're dealing with dragging brakes or brakes that aren't fully releasing. To ensure safe driving and fuel economy, inspect everything on a regular basis and make sure it's properly greased.

Maintain a proper level of coolant

Overheating, as with any machinery, is detrimental to overall efficiency. An overheated engine is significantly more likely to malfunction or suffer irreversible damage in the worst-case situation, necessitating an expensive and time-consuming replacement.

Antifreeze, often known as engine coolant, is used to keep the engine at a safe operating temperature. As a result, if you allow your coolant reservoir to run dry without refilling it in a timely manner, your engine may overheat and run less efficiently, consume more gas, or possibly fail completely.

So make sure to check the coolant level on a regular basis and top it off as soon as possible. Inspect electric cooling fans as well to ensure that the cooling system is in good operating order.

Replace your oil and switch to synthetic oils.

Another important point to remember is that anything that causes friction between mechanical parts in your vehicle's engine will reduce engine performance, which has a direct impact on gas mileage. This is why it's critical to change your oil during routine maintenance to ensure that your engine parts are properly lubricated.

You may be aware that synthetic lubricant is currently a popular topic. They provide superior lubrication between moving parts than conventional oils, allowing engines to not only run more effectively but also to last longer.

They also don't break down in high-heat, high-stress circumstances, which is why they're so popular in racing and performance vehicles. They also provide outstanding performance in very cold temperatures without becoming thickened, as well as performance in extreme temperature swings. The best synthetic oils are even designed to be more durable in terms of high-temperature stability and low-temperature pumpability, as well as deposit protection. However, you'll have to pay almost twice as much as a regular oil of equal viscosity to get all of these benefits.

Change Transmission Fluid and Differential Oil

Proper engine maintenance is fairly common knowledge, but many areas are often overlooked, including the transmission fluid (gear oil) and differential oil. Changing these fluids regularly can significantly increase your gas mileage.

It’s recommended to change these fluids every at least 50,000 miles. Depending on the quality of the lubricants you go for and the tolerances of the mechanical systems from the factory, you might only need to change them a bit less often.

The rule of thumb is to change the rear differential oil together with the transmission fluid on manual transmissions at 30,000-mile intervals if your car is old, and generally more frequently under demanding conditions. If you own a newer car, the transmissions have lifetime service intervals, which is generally 100,000 miles.

Now, don’t get gear oil confused with engine oil. While the engine oil primarily lubricates engine parts, gear oil or transmission fluid serves multiple functions, including lubricating and protecting all moving components of the transmission and acting as a viscous coolant to transmit power from the engine to the transmission.

When the transmission fluid runs low, the transmission will run overly hot without the much needed lubrication, thus affecting the system’s efficiency and fuel efficiency. Overheating also leads to excessive wear and tear, followed by malfunction and eventual failure.

Oxygen Sensors That Aren't Working

Remember Car Engine 101: for maximum efficiency, your engine requires a perfect mixture of air and fuel in the proper ratio fed into the combustion chamber at precise times. To put it another way, your engine has to "breathe" efficiently, and anything that interferes with that will reduce efficiency and cause the engine to consume more gas than necessary.

A lack of oxygen is one possibility. The oxygen sensors aid in maintaining the optimum air-fuel combination. If it stops working and puts the air/fuel ratio off, it can reduce your gas mileage by up to 10%, which is a significant amount.

Air Filters Should Be Cleaned

The air filter is another component that affects your engine's capacity to "breathe" effectively. In a media comprised of paper and synthetic fibers, air filters catch dust and other impurities in the air. This filter might become clogged with too much dirt and debris over time. As a result of the restriction in airflow, the engine does not receive the amount of air it required for combustion, forcing it to work harder.

Moreover, everything that makes your engine work harder reduces fuel economy. A clogged air filter, according to experts, can raise your fuel consumption by as much as 10%.

Fortunately, this problem may be avoided by inspecting and cleaning the air filters on a regular basis, allowing the engine to "breathe" freely and perform at its best.

Fuel Injectors That Aren't Working

For efficient combustion and maximum fuel economy, the engine requires not only air but also the correct amount of fuel at the right moment. The fuel injectors, as the name implies, are in charge of injecting fuel into the engine. If you have faulty fuel injectors or a leak, the engine will not receive enough fuel for optimal combustion and will therefore run inefficiently.

Spark Plugs that are worn or fouled

The electrical spark from the spark plugs ignites the mixture of air and fuel inside the combustion chamber. The alternator generates energy, which is then transmitted through the spark plug, resulting in an arc of electricity that jumps across the gap between the two leads in the firing end of the plug.

Ignition by the spark plugs, of course, must take place at precise times. If the timing is slightly wrong, or if a spark plug malfunctions in any other way, the entire combustion process will be disrupted, reducing power output and gas mileage. To guarantee optimal engine combustion, inspect your spark plugs on a regular basis and replace them if there is any damage or wear.

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