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Vehicle Maintenance For Older Cars To Improve Fuel Economy

Tempe Auto Repair Ford With the economy continuing to ebb and flow unpredictably, many Americans are making the decision to keep their older vehicles. While there are trade-offs involved, one of them doesn’t have to be fuel economy. Following the tips in this article will help you understand why fuel economy suffers, and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Older Vehicle

You can prevent most expensive repair bills and keep your car performing its best by making an effort to schedule routine maintenance and inspections. When you’re diligent about maintenance, you’re not only saving money; you’re maintaining your investment, and we're always here to help at Elite Auto Repair.

What Causes Gas Mileage to Decrease?

A number of factors could be contributing to your car’s poor fuel economy. Simply put: Poor fuel economy means your car doesn't run as efficiently as it could be. Which means more money out of your pocket because you’re having to make more trips to the gas station. The following are some of the more common reasons for poor fuel economy:

Oxygen Sensors and Air Filters

If you haven’t replaced your oxygen sensors or air filters in a while, you’re potentially reducing your fuel efficiency by 20%. The oxygen sensors are responsible for ensuring your vehicle uses the proper mixture of air and fuel to run properly. If your air filters are clogged (and they may very well be), simply stop by and have them cleaned or replaced.

Driver’s Driving Habits

How do you drive? Have your friends made fun of you because you drive like their grandmothers? While potentially embarrassing, you may be saving yourself some money in the long run. Aggressive driving (not to be confused with road rage) is a frequent contributor to poor fuel economy. Instead of accelerating immediately from a stop or coming to a hard stop, focus on smooth acceleration and stops. Slow and steady wins the race!

Car Idling

Idling or leaving your car on while you’re at a standstill is another common factor for why you go through the gas quickly. While most experts will disagree on how long it takes to warm up your car for the winter, thirty-sixty seconds seems to be adequate enough without causing major harm to the internal engine components, and without wasting gas. If you must wait for someone, or are stuck behind a stop light, try putting your car in neutral or shutting the engine off.

Motor Oil

The type of motor oil you’re using could be contributing to your poor fuel economy as well. Use the oil recommended in your owner’s manual or get suggestions on a high quality synthetic oil. Give us a call, we're always happy to hear from you and offer any assistance we can.

RPM (Revolutions Per Minute)

It may be beneficial to think of RPMs as ‘laps’. The more laps you make your car do, the more gas guzzling your machine will be. The easiest way to reduce your RPMs is to drive slower and ease off the gas pedal if you can (when coasting down a hill).

What About Tires?

Your tires may be affecting your gas mileage as well.

Under Inflation

Under inflated tires not only waste money, but they can also cause an accident. The more contact surface that touches the road, the greater the friction that your car has to manually overcome whenever you use the accelerator. The more friction, the harder your engine has to work to get you going again.

Over Inflation

Many auto owners seem to think if they over inflate the tires, they’ll be doing their vehicle some good. They couldn’t be further from the truth. Over inflation puts more stress on the tire’s surface which can eventually damage the tire itself. Proper tire pressure is completely dependent on the weight and size of your vehicle. To gauge proper tire pressure, look on the driver’s side of the doorjamb. There should be a sticker that includes various info along with the proper tire pressure to maintain for your vehicle.

Proven Ways to Improve Gas Mileage for an Older Car

Shockingly, there are no real shortcuts for improving the gas mileage for an older vehicle. Experts recommend keeping up on your regular auto maintenance schedule in order to see the best returns for your money. You can accomplish that by doing the following:

Keep Your Car Tires at The Right Pressure

As mentioned above, keeping your tires at the proper pressure is critical to not only preserving your tires condition, but also improving fuel economy.

Keep an Eye On Your Spark Plugs

Misfiring spark plugs cause incomplete combustion, which is potentially costing you hundreds of dollars in wasted gas. You should make it a habit to replace your spark plugs every 30,000 miles.

Change or Clean Your Air Filters

A dirty air filter can increase fuel usage by about ten percent. Most modern vehicles are operated or controlled by a computer which automatically detects poor air flow and responds by reducing fuel flow. Older cars such as yours rely on you to determine when and how often you should change your air filters. Experts recommend replacing them at least once a year or more.


By following the tips discussed in this article, you can improve your fuel economy and get more years out of your car until it makes sense to buy a  more modern vehicle.

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