- Do It Yourself Auto Repair
How to Boost Your Car's Fuel Economy
There are a wide variety of things that you can do to your vehicle to increase your gas mileage. Although some of these things can effect your vehicles warranty, we are going to focus on those that do not. Even though it is has been my experience that the ideas that I will share with you in this article will have no ill effect on the vehicle's warranty, it is always a good idea to check with your vehicle's manufacturer before making any alterations.
Before we get into how to positively affect your fuel mileage, it will help you to have a basic idea of how a gasoline engine works and what effects the amount of fuel that it uses. First of all, a gasoline engine needs the correct mixture of three things to operate. These three things are air, fuel and spark. If any one of these things is missing or not entering the combustion chamber at exactly the right time, the engine will either not run properly or possibly at all.
In the old days, cars had carburetors that were the first stage of the fuel air mixture and a distributor and coil to deliver the spark, however, times have changed and just like everything else, we had to complicate things. So, now we have Fuel Injection systems and Direct Ignition Systems. Basically what this means is that, rather than having a carburetor sitting atop a manifold to delivering the fuel and air to the cars engine, we now have injectors that deliver the fuel directly into the cylinders. Plus, rather than having a distributor to deliver the spark to each cylinder to ignite the fuel air mixture via spark plugs and spark plug wires, we now have what is called Direct Ignition Systems. What this system does is to take the place of a whole series of parts (distributor, coil, spark plugs and spark plug wires). Sitting directly atop each cylinder, these individual ignition systems are intricately timed to deliver an intense electrical charge to the perspective cylinder, igniting the fuel air mixture. This ignition causes a controlled explosion inside the combustion chamber which, in turn forces down the piston. Each piston is connected to the crankshaft via the connecting rod. The end of the crankshaft has a timing gear that rotates turning the timing chain which spins the camshaft. Lobes on the camshaft open and close the valves that allow fuel into the combustion chamber and exhaust gases out. Now, this just gives you a very basic idea of how an internal combustion engine works, without going into a lot of detail. Most modern gasoline engines work on these basic principals, with a few exceptions (Mazda Rotax being one).
Increasing fuel economy
Increasing fuel economy comes down to a few simple principals:
Keeping engine RPMs as low as possible (proper driving techniques)
Make the vehicle as light as possible
Be sure that the vehicle is burning fuel efficiently
Check for fuel leaks
Keeping the engine RPMs as low as possible is probably the most important factor in increasing your vehicle's fuel economy. For the most part what this boils down to is learning to drive economically. The idea here is basically to coast as much as possible, however, there is a couple of other things that you can do improve your driving skills. Another tip, maintaining a consistent speed as much as possible will also help, these two tips alone will help to greatly increase your car's fuel economy.
Mechanically, there are a number of simple techniques that will help to increase your vehicle's fuel economy. Even if you are not the most mechanically inclined person, you should easily be able to accomplish these little fixes. As I stated previously, a gasoline engine needs three things to run; fuel, air and spark. First, you want to make sure that your car is “breathing” properly, you can do this by checking your air cleaner on a regular basis. A clean air filter will allow air to flow more easily into your vehicle's combustion chamber, in turn making it run better. Next you will want to be sure that your spark plugs are gaped properly. A spark plug's gap is the space between the electrode and the ignition point where the spark is produced to ignite the fuel inside the cylinder. Checking your vehicle's fuel filter for obstructions is always a good idea too. A clear fuel filter will allow fuel to flow easily to the engine's cylinders.
If you aren't to keen on automotive repair, you might want to take your car into a muffler shop to find out if your catalytic converter is clear. A partially clogged catalytic converter will kill your fuel economy. A completely clogged converter will cause your car to stall out and is actually a fire hazard. It may sound like common sense that you should be sure that your vehicle is not leaking fuel, but sometimes a fuel leak isn't all that obvious. Chasing down your car's fuel lines, checking for minor fuel leaks. When your vehicle is running, your vehicle's fuel system is pressurized up to 40 PSI. At 40 PSI even the smallest fuel leak can cause major fuel loss and a severely hazardous situation. Another good idea is to run a bottle of fuel injection system cleaner through your car.