Is Running Out Of Gas Bad For Your Car – With more and more cars hitting high mileage milestones, you may be wondering, “Why is my car’s gas mileage getting worse?” After the first 100,000 miles, what started out as an EPA-rated 28 MPG car can become more like a 20 MPG car. Decreased fuel efficiency not only drains your gas tank faster, it also drains your wallet faster.
If you’ve noticed that your gas mileage is getting worse as your car ages, there are several things you can do to save gas and increase your vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency. Read on to understand why gas mileage drops as your car ages and, more importantly, what you can do to keep your car running smoothly for miles to come.
Is Running Out Of Gas Bad For Your Car
It’s common knowledge that cars get worse fuel economy as they get older. In fact, it’s more accurate to say that poorly maintained cars are more likely to get worse gas mileage over time. Fuel economy is less likely to drop significantly over its lifetime.
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One of the easiest solutions to maintaining fuel economy is to continue regular maintenance. However, when a car reaches 100,000 or 200,000 miles, it can be difficult to keep up with maintaining fuel economy because there are so many parts to consider. Especially considering how other factors, such as hot weather, affect fuel efficiency.
What should I pay attention to so that the car continues to run like the day I bought it? Start by addressing the common problem areas listed below.
One of the most common causes of poor fuel efficiency is dirty fuel injectors. A fuel injector is a nozzle that injects fuel into each cylinder of an engine. The fuel injector spray pattern must be very precise to properly mix with the air and burn in the engine.
Dirty or clogged fuel injectors can prevent efficient fuel injection. Think low-pressure showerheads. This will quickly reduce engine efficiency and reduce fuel economy. In many cases the fuel injector nozzle can be cleaned. Also, if the spray pattern is poor due to internal damage, the injector may need to be replaced.
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The engine needs to draw air to power the vehicle. If the engine’s air filter is particularly dirty or clogged, the engine cannot “breathe”. To compensate for this, older engines consume more fuel to run at the same speed. Newer engines may experience reduced performance as they try to compensate for a clogged air filter.
This problem is especially common in older cars that rely on carburetors. Your engine’s air filter should be changed approximately every 15,000 to 30,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual or have it checked at your next oil change.
Many older cars use carburetors to ensure the engine receives the proper air-to-fuel ratio for combustion, but all new cars from around 1996 onwards use an oxygen sensor instead. The O2 sensor measures the concentration of exhaust gases leaving the engine and sends messages to the car’s computer to adjust the amount of fuel entering the engine.
Edmunds says a dirty oxygen sensor can lead to inaccurate readings and cause the engine to burn too much fuel, reducing efficiency by up to 40%.
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A faulty oxygen sensor is one of the most common causes of a Check Engine Light and may require inspection and replacement before the 100,000 mile mark. Fortunately, O2 sensors are relatively affordable.
Fuel filters block contaminants in the fuel from traveling throughout the engine and can damage fuel injectors and other critical components. A clogged fuel filter can cause low fuel pressure and poor engine operation.
It is important to replace the fuel filter approximately every two years or 30,000 miles, especially for older vehicles. If you suspect a dirty fuel filter is the cause of your low fuel economy, take your vehicle to your local Firestone Complete Auto Care for a fuel pressure test.
The piston rings in the engine cylinders form a seal against the cylinder wall, creating compression. As the piston rings wear, they can no longer make that seal and the engine loses pressure. As a result, gas mileage goes out the window.
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Engine oil not only lubricates piston rings, but also contributes to fuel efficiency. The best solution is to perform regular oil changes using the manufacturer’s recommended type of oil listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
The ignition system includes coils, spark plugs and wires that ignite the air-fuel mixture in the engine. If any of these parts are not working, they can cause engine damage. Misfire occurs when the fuel in the engine cylinder does not burn. Unburnt fuel cannot start the vehicle, which wastes fuel and reduces fuel economy.
If the ignition system is at fault, you may experience a rough idle, stuttering, and a general decrease in power output from the engine. The most common cause of a failed ignition system is the spark plug.
There is a common myth that older cars should use thicker engine oil to prevent leaks. It is believed that internal seals and gaskets become brittle and shrink with age, making it difficult for thick oil to penetrate the cracks.
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Specially formulated “high mileage engine oils” use seal conditioning additives to help old seals become softer and seal better. In addition, it has a slightly higher viscosity for better sealing on worn piston rings. However, thicker oil actually creates more resistance between engine parts and reduces fuel economy.
The proper motor oil is essential to keeping modern engines lubricated and protected. The best thing you can do to keep your car fuel efficient is regular oil changes using the type of oil specified in your owner’s manual. High mileage engine oil helps reduce oil leakage and oil consumption, but it takes away some of the potential fuel efficiency.
The mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine. Like the oxygen sensor, the airflow sensor sends data to the onboard computer to calculate the correct air-fuel ratio inside the engine, and the computer adjusts fuel injection accordingly. However, a dirty airflow sensor can cause the car’s computer to miscalculate the correct air-fuel mixture, resulting in poor fuel efficiency or engine stalling. The mass airflow sensor must be cleaned with a special cleaning spray.
Low pressure tires are usually the cause of worsening MPG. This is because under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance on the road and have a slightly smaller effective diameter. Modern cars have a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) that notifies drivers when the tires need more pressure, but the warnings are only triggered when the PSI drops significantly. Even if the TPMS has not warned, running 5PSI below the recommended pressure will still create drag and reduce fuel economy.
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One of the easiest things you can do to stay fuel efficient is to regularly check your tire pressure and top up when necessary. We also recommend the fuel-efficient Bridgestone Ecopia tires. Ecopia tires feature a low rolling resistance tread and are designed to save money and fuel by reducing trips to the petrol pump. While it’s best to combine Ecopia tires with other gas-saving maintenance, fuel-efficient tires really do go a long way toward a greener, more fuel-efficient ride.
Not only is it dangerous to drive with broken brake parts, sticky brakes can also cause your MPG to drop quickly. For example, a stuck caliper or sticky brake pad creates resistance to the vehicle’s forward motion. Brake drag means the engine has to constantly fight the brakes just to run, which dramatically reduces fuel economy. Check your brakes regularly. Or take your car to Firestone for a comprehensive brake inspection.
If you’ve been driving for a long time with the steering wheel out of alignment, you may be spending money at the pump due to tire alignment. Like tires with low pressure, misaligned tires create resistance to driving straight down the road. Constantly fighting this resistance requires more effort from the engine, resulting in worse fuel economy. Luckily, realigning tires is a simple repair that can be done at your local Firestone Complete Auto Care location.
Whether your car needs new tires or a new fuel filter, your local Firestone Complete Auto Care Technician can diagnose and fix your fuel problem. Book now!
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