Car Care - Improving Fuel Economy


In these days of high gas prices, there are many things we as car owners and drivers can do to make sure we get the most out of the money we spend on gas.

Some things are simple, such as tire inflation and maintenance; some are a little more complicated, like tune-ups and engine work, but all of them are worthwhile.

Your tires can be a good source of improving fuel economy. Check with the documentation that came with your tires for the proper amount of inflation. You can also find this information on the vehicle itself. Your owner's manual will tell you where to look. Often this informational label is on the driver's side door or near the spare tire.

Check tire inflation about once a month. This can potentially save you up to two miles per gallon of gas. You can also improve fuel economy by making sure your tires are balanced properly and your wheels are aligned. This can improve fuel efficiency by up to 20%.

Keeping your car, van, SUV, or truck tuned-up is another way to save fuel. If your engine is running rough or does not seem to have the power that it used to, take the time and make the effort to get the engine tuned-up. Today, tune-ups consist basically of changing the spark plugs. But you should also check the spark plug wires to make sure they are not cracked or corroded.

Another good maintenance item that can help save fuel is making sure your fuel injectors are clean. You can have them cleaned professionally for around $100, but you can also use an additive to your fuel tank that will clean them as you drive. For around $2.50, you can purchase fuel injector cleaner. Add this to an empty gas tank, then fill the tank and drive until you have used up the tank of gas (and the fuel injector cleaner). Adding a fuel injector cleaner to your gas is recommended every three months. Try it. You will find this is a simple way to increase fuel economy and improve engine performance.

Keeping your engine's air-intake filter clean also helps fuel economy. Many car, truck, van and SUV owner's manuals recommend replacing this filter every three year or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you use your vehicle in a dusty or dirty environment, check the filter; you may have to replace it more often. A clean air-intake filter allows your engine to "breathe," which in turn allows it to burn fuel more efficiently. So a clean air-intake filter is a good investment.

Make sure your engine's oxygen sensor is working properly. The oxygen sensor tells your engine how much fuel to send for consumption. If this sensor is not working well, it may send a message to supply more fuel than is needed to your engine. The result: too much fuel consumption. A new oxygen sensor can improve gas mileage by up to 15%. Use synthetic motor oil. This type of oil reduces drag, allowing your engine to operate more efficiently, and you get better fuel economy. Other benefits of synthetic oil include improved engine performance in hot and cold weather extremes, in hauling and towing, and at high speeds.