Maintaining a car is as expensive as buying one today. Unless you pay proper attention towards its regular maintenance, you end paying for high fuel and repair expenses. Poor vehicle maintenance not only reduces fuel economy but also impacts the automobile’s life span. Following are tips that could help you improve fuel economy and the vehicle’s life span.
Tips to save your fuel costs
Keep a check on the tire pressure: Both under-inflated and over-inflated tires are less safe, wear-out soon and decrease fuel economy. Low pressured tires increase the friction on road and make the engine work hard. This results in a loss of 4-10% fuel for a low pressure of 10-20 pounds. Too much pressure is also not safe as it jeopardizes your car handling.
When there is a change in weather, you need to be more conscious of the fact that for every 10 degree F drop in temperature, each tire loses one pound pressure. Therefore, to achieve the optimal fuel efficiency and avoid premature tread wear of tires, they should be properly inflated to the recommended pressure. In general, for most passenger cars, tire pressure should be maintained at 32-34 PSI.
Keep the air and fuel filters clean: While the air filter sends dust/dirt-free air to the engine to burn gas, the fuel filter sends dirt and debris-free fuel to the engine. Clogging of any of these filters causes the engine to lose power and thus affects fuel economy. Such clogged air/fuel filter may decrease the gas mileage and increase the fuel costs by 10-13%.
Make sure, therefore, that both the air and fuel filters are free from dust, dirt and debris so that the engine works at improved fuel efficiency. If the filters are dirty or worn-out, it is better to replace them. You should do it, especially, while driving more in dusty conditions, change/clean the air pump enough number of times to protect the engine’s health.
Inspect spark plugs regularly: Spark plugs in gasoline engines ignite air-fuel mixture. A dirty, worn-out or malfunctioning spark plug or its wires can lead to engine misfiring resulting in wastage of fuel and poor fuel economy. Therefore, make sure to inspect and replace the dirty/worn-out spark plugs to minimize fuel wastage.
Choose right kind of gasoline: Using the right kind of gasoline is essential to improve fuel efficiency. Check out the correct octane gasoline for your vehicle, in the owner’s manual as recommended by the manufacturer. Many people assume that premium grade gasoline offers high performance, but in fact, it has higher octane percentage that makes it more resistant to engine knocks. Thus, fuel economy and premium gasoline is not related. Moreover, compared to regular gas, premium gasoline is expensive. You better stick to regular gasoline to save costs.
Also make sure to tighten the gas cap after every refill, as loose or missing gas caps allow the gasoline to evaporate.
Stick to good driving habits: Poor driving habits like aggressive/rash driving, over-speeding, rapid accelerations, stopping short, etc. result in fuel wastage. By such driving, more fuel goes to the engine and thus it consumes more fuel than required. Therefore, it is advisable to stick to good driving practices to improve fuel economy.
Use reliable after-market products: Two kinds of automobile spare parts are available in the market the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) products and the after-market parts not made by the original manufacturer. As most independent shops extensively use after-market products, it is better to approach dealership’s service department to get the OEM products.
Though the OEMs are bit expensive than after-market parts, they come with greater assurance of quality and warranty. If you choose lower-cost after-market parts, you may end up getting poor quality products. However, it would cost you more in the long run. High quality products work for long time and improve your vehicle’s performance.
Regular maintenance is highly essential: Regular service checks as scheduled by your manufacturer not only help you improve your fuel efficiency, but also extend your car’s life span. Experts at the service department find many of the above mentioned problems such as under-inflated tires, dirty air and fuel filters, wrong wheel alignments, worn-out spark plugs, low-transmission fluids and so on and fix them in a timely manner.
According to industry experts, owners who are consistent in their vehicle service schedules will have the most miles on their car. Regular service rectifies most mechanical problems before they get worse and thus helps maintain the car’s longevity. Though frequent services may prove expensive, the preventative care taken today saves money in the long run.