Hot weather can take its toll on your vehicle, by sapping battery life, increasing tire wear, or even causing your engine to overheat. Regardless of whether your car is properly maintained, a heat wave will have a negative impact on its efficiency. So, if you’re planning to hit the road this summer, here’s how to be more fuel efficient the next time the thermometer soars.
Summer Fuel Efficiency
1. Change the oil and oil filter on time. Engine oil has a certain lifespan, as outlined in your owner’s manual. When it surpasses the time allotted, it doesn’t perform as well, which not only impacts engine durability but may reduce fuel economy. Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade and always change the oil filter at the same time. Use this occasion to replace the air filter.
2. Check the tire pressure. Ensure that the tire air pressure is precisely at the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. In hot weather, pressure can actually increase, which may do two things: 1) affect fuel economy, and 2) hasten tire wear. If the tires are overinflated, use the pointy side of the tire gauge to release excess air.
3. Use air conditioning wisely. Modern climate control systems are efficient and do a wonderful job of keeping the cabin cool. But they also consume a lot of energy, degrading fuel economy in the process. Park in the shade or away from direct sunlight to keep the car from getting very hot in the first place. If you’re driving around town, turn off the air conditioner and roll down the windows. When you take to the highway, close the windows and turn on the AC. The climate control system won’t have to work as hard when the cabin isn’t hot.
4. Activate cruise control. A steadily traveling car is the most efficient one, regardless of temperature. Drive no higher than the speed limit and turn on cruise control to keep your speed steady. However, turn cruise control off while it’s raining or at any time when roads are slick to avoid hydroplaning.
5. Clean the car battery. Corroded car battery terminals cause the alternator to work harder, consuming more fuel. Routinely clean them at least twice annually.
6. Keep the vehicle within load tolerances. Extra weight in a vehicle affects control, which can lead to an accident. Also, every additional 100 pounds of weight results in a corresponding 1 mpg loss in fuel economy.
7. Choose the correct octane. If your vehicle runs on regular-grade gasoline, then use it. In most cases, mid or premium fuel is unnecessary and more expensive. Also, an engine running at higher performance simply consumes more fuel.
8. Stay on paved roads. Taking a shortcut on gravel or unpaved roads might get you where you’re going faster. However, the vehicle’s wheels must work harder to create forward motion. Rough roads are not only uncomfortable, but they increase vehicle wear and tear while adversely affecting fuel economy.
9. Avoid excess idling. An idling car consumes gas, a habit we’re prone to do in the winter to heat the car. On hot days, idling to keep the cabin cool will also devour fuel. If you’re stopping for more than a minute, roll down the windows and turn off the vehicle.
Summer is a great time of year to hit the open road! But with the high temperatures, also come higher fuel prices. That’s why it’s important to learn how to be more fuel efficient so you can make the most of your summer road trips.
Check out all the fuel system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to be more fuel efficient, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.