7 Little Known Ways to Increase Fuel Efficiency
We’ve all heard the common fuel efficiency suggestions: “Drive less, plan trips, don’t speed, don’t throttle…”
With our busy, unpredictable lives, it can be difficult to always adhere to these practices. The good news is that there are some little known ways to increase fuel efficiency. Many of them are actually quite obvious and easy to implement without drastically changing your driving practices.
1. Maintain good tire practices.
Tires are more than just inflated pieces of rubber that roll your car down the street. They are scientifically designed to reduce wear and increase vehicle performance. In order to do this, they must be properly inflated. Improper inflation will reduce fuel efficiency by up to 3%.
3% may not seem like much, but this number can compound quickly when combined with additional inefficiencies within the vehicle.
In addition to proper inflation, you might consider narrower tires, which are more aerodynamic and therefore provide better fuel economy. Always consult an expert before making the switch to ensure new tires will provide enough traction and fit wheels properly.
2. Keep your windows up on the highway.
It can be fun to turn up the music, roll your windows down, and feel the wind in your hair on the highway. However, this practice can cost you big at the pump. Highway driving with your windows down can reduce fuel efficiency by 10%.
There is good news, though. The aerodynamic effect of open windows is negligible with city driving, so feel free to enjoy the breeze when you’re driving up to 40 MPH!
3. Use air conditioning sparingly.
Continuing on from the last point, it may be better to utilize outside airflow for city driving. Using AC always weighs on your engine, but the effect is far more pronounced with the stop/start nature of city driving.
4. Change your engine air filters.
At the most basic level, engines run on a mixture of air and fuel. Without enough air, an engine won’t run or, if it does, it will consume too much fuel.
Always keep an eye on the quality of your engine air filter. A dirty or clogged air filter reduces airflow to the engine, requiring it to work harder and consume more fuel.
5. Lighten your load.
This may seem like a simple concept, but it can easily slip your mind. The heavier your car is, the harder it will need to work to move total mass. In fact, for every 100 lbs. added you will increase fuel consumption by 1-2%!
6. Don’t ignore faulty sensors.
Your car is full of sensors that you may not even be aware of. Sensors are strategically placed to monitor vehicle performance and make you aware of anything that could potentially threaten efficiency.
Often when these sensors become faulty or damaged, we put off replacing them. It’s easy to justify because they aren’t essential to the basic function of a vehicle. However, by ignoring these sensors, you’ll miss out on important feedback from your car on its operation. Many of these sensors provide data that impacts fuel economy. Some common sensors are:
- Tire pressure
- Oxygen level
- Engine emissions
- Evaporative emissions
A damaged oxygen sensor alone could decrease fuel efficiency by 20% or more!
7. Use proper fueling practices.
When you’re at the pump, common sense might have you use a higher-octane fuel because of its “higher quality.” However, you might be surprised to find that if your car only requires 87% octane fuel (the lowest level available at most pumps), using 89% or 91% won’t increase fuel efficiency. It will simply cost more and provide no added benefit to engine performance.
When you’re fueling up, go to a brand name station. You might save a few cents here and there at discount stations, but lower quality fuel gives you worse MPG and increases wear on your engine over time.
Finally, keep your tank above ¼ full. When your tank gets low the fuel pump has to work harder, decreasing fuel efficiency in your car.