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How Your Car's Condition Affects Fuel Economy

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 3 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
How Your Car's Condition Affects Fuel Economy

As a motorist, you'll probably be feeling the pinch recently as the cost of oil has soared sending fuel prices sky high with it. If you're living to a budget, you'll want to know how to get the best out of your fuel to try and keep those prices down - but did you know that the condition of your car can affect the fuel economy you will get?

Check your Engine is in Good Condition

If you take your car to the garage for an engine tune-up, you'll probably notice quite a difference in your fuel consumption afterwards. Changing the air filter can improve your fuel economy by removing any clogging and as it stops impurities from getting on the inside of your engine and damaging it, having a new filter will help protect your engine, saving you money in the long run.

Use the Right Oil

You can improve your gas mileage by a couple of percent by using the oil that your manufacturer recommends. Using, for example, 5W-30 can lower your mileage by 1-2 percent if your car was designed to use 5W-20. Check your owner's manual to find out the optimum oil to use, and if still not sure, ask your local dealership or garage.

Keep your Tyres at the Right Pressure

Not only is keeping your tyres at the right level of inflation a good idea from a safety perspective, but it can also make your fuel last longer. Making sure that your tyres are aligned and balanced properly can also help stretch the length of time between fill-ups. If your tyres are worn and battered, your car has to work harder to get the same performance from them - so it uses more of your precious fuel.

Keep a Clean Car

Although you might not think it makes much difference, removing stuff from the car that you don't need means that because you are moving less weight around, you need less fuel to do it. So clear out your boot and take out anything you don't need. It's a good idea to keep the essentials in there though, such as your first aid kit, a bottle of water and a warm coat in case you break down somewhere.

Leave the Air Con Switched Off

If you have a car that is equipped with an Air Conditioning Unit (ACU), then it will be using your fuel as it's main resource. It's not often hot enough in the UK to justify using your air conditioning, so switch it off and see how much you can save by opening a window instead. If you must use your air con and you don't keep on top of the maintenance, then you'll find it is costing you more as the unit will have to work harder to get the same kind of air circulation - so it's definitely worth checking it regularly and get it fixed asap if you think it has a problem.

Consider your Driving Speed and Habits

Although not strictly to do with the condition of your car, your driving speed can have an adverse effect on both the condition of your car and your fuel consumption. If you concentrate on the traffic around you and the road conditions, you will have plenty of notice when you need to slow down or speed up thus saving wear and tear on your tyres, your gearbox, your clutch and your engine than if you drive too fast and stop and start quickly.

Not only this, but driving fast will mean that you go through your petrol quicker than if you drive at a lower speed. Around 50-60mph is generally considered as the optimum speed for fuel economy on motorways and B-roads where the speed limit allows, but it does depend on the type and size of car that you drive and the weather conditions. Of course you should never sacrifice safety for speed, so err on the side of caution and you'll use less fuel!

Plan your Route Carefully

If you plan your route carefully before you set out, not only will you find that you spend less time and money driving around trying to find your final destination, but you can also reduce the amount of times you have to stop and start your vehicle. Every time you stop at a traffic light you waste fuel. So by finding the straightest route with the least traffic signals and stops, you can increase your fuel economy quickly and easily.

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