Although the price of gas is lower than it’s been in a long time, it is still expensive if you do a lot of commuting or interstate driving. Despite the increased fuel efficiency of late-model vehicles, there are reports that many of the EPA sticker ratings for MPG are exaggerated. This is because the mileage is calculated in a laboratory rather than real-world road conditions. On the real roads, you may find that your gas mileage is horrible if you neglect maintenance or simply have bad driving habits. Let’s consider some ways to increase your gas mileage and reduce consumption of this precious fossil fuel below.
#1: Repair Vacuum Leaks
You won’t believe how quickly a fuel-efficient vehicle can turn into a gas guzzler until you develop a vacuum leak. A vacuum leak is a leak in the air suction hoses and seals that are connected to the head or intake of the engine. The vacuum created by your engine is a normal part of the mechanical combustion process. When the piston is thrusted upwards to compress the fuel, the cylinder is sealed and has negligible effects on vacuum.
However, when the piston is repelled downward, it creates a negative air pressure (AKA vacuum) that draws the atomized fuel and air mixture from the intake into the combustion chamber. A vacuum leak can burn up a half a tank of fuel in just a matter of miles as the fuel pump struggles to compensate with the extra air intake to produce a combustible mixture.
A vacuum leak is especially pronounced if you smell the raw fumes of the fuel emitting from the engine bay when you are driving with the A/C or heat climate control systems on. This may, in fact, indicate a leaky injector seal or leaky intake.
Common symptoms of a vacuum leak:
- Rough running
- Shaking at idle
- Bad brakes
- The smell of raw fuel
- Poor fuel economy
- Reduced power
#2: Tune-Up Your Vehicle
In order to ensure proper combustion, you need the right ratio of fuel and an adequate spark. Replacing your spark plugs or checking them at least every 30,000 miles is suggested to prevent them from seizing in the head. You should also use an ohm meter to check the resistance of the ignition wires. Replacing the coolant temperature sensor and cleaning the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor will also help you achieve proper fuel metering.
#3: Reduce Your Speed and Avoid City Traffic
Fuel economy dives substantially after you start driving over 65 miles per hour. This is because the combustion engine is designed to reach its peak power at highway speeds averaging 55 mph. If you go over 65 mph or do a lot of city driving below 25 mph, the fuel consumption increases dramatically. Electric engines operate in their most efficient range at 15 to 20 mph. This is why they are often combined and advantageous in hybrid vehicles.
#4: Pulse and Glide
When you drive your vehicle by pulsing briefly on the pedal and gliding the rest of the way to take advantage of inertia and the forward motion of your wheel bearings, this can take some of the strain off your engine and reduce gas consumption. The pulse and glide method is especially effective in cars with manual transmissions that are easy to slip into neutral when they are going downhill.
#5: Replace or Clean Injectors
As injectors age, they lose their ability to atomize fuel. The nozzles get worn, clogged, or may even leak. If you want to ensure that your vehicle is combusting the fuel efficiently, it makes sense to replace your injectors if cleaning them with a fuel injector cleaner doesn’t seem to do much good. A mileage calculator may help you determine if your fuel economy is lacking.
#6: Change Your Air Filter
A clogged air filter can suffocate your engine and cause it to burn more fuel than it should. If you see excessive black smoke coming out of your tailpipe, it may be running rich and, thus, burning excess fuel.
#7: Replaced Clogged Cats
A clogged catalytic converter can make it difficult for your engine to run correctly because it creates too much back-pressure. An engine is an air pump and needs to breathe and release the exhaust freely to operate efficiently.