Making an engine fuel efficient is a goal of many vehicle owners, both ecologically and performance minded alike. Done properly, there are many different ways to both maintain and improve efficiency, but the key to both is to schedule maintenance for times when it can be reliably completed. What follows are a few additional tips to help make your engine more fuel efficient regardless of its age or mileage.
The importance of oil is twofold in a gasoline engine. Oil helps to lubricate the various moving parts inside the engine during operation, and this lubrication greatly reduces internal friction. Reduced friction means more available power for the same amount of fuel burned, and this additional free power can lead to both smoother performance and better fuel economy. The second role of engine oil is to help cool the engine itself. As the oil circulates through the engine, it helps to pull away heat from the various internal components inside your engine that the coolant cannot reach. Because of these two important roles, clean oil of the proper weight is of key importance to both proper operation and good fuel economy. An oil that is too high in viscosity can make the engine work harder, while dirty oil is not as effective at reducing friction or achieving proper flow rates. Simply put, without a regular oil change, your engine cannot operate at its best.
Fuel injected vehicles determine the proper amount of fuel to inject based on input from several different sensors. Fouled oxygen sensors, a clogged catalytic converter and dirty air metering equipment can all cause false, inaccurate readings, which in turn can cause over-fueling and reduced fuel efficiency. Another especially troublesome problem can arise from clogged or leaking fuel injectors. Due to their inability to hold a proper seal and deliver proper amounts of fuel, malfunctioning injectors can cause very large changes in fuel economy as well as driveability issues.
In addition to ensuring proper engine component function, it pays to take note of the effect of intake air temperatures on fuel ratios. Warmer intake air temperatures will tend to cause the engine’s computer to inject additional fuel and slow the ignition timing in order to help reduce the chances of detonation. This additional fuel and retarded timing both hurt performance, as well as consume more fuel. For vehicles with poorly designed intake systems that draw their air from the hot engine compartment, an aftermarket cold air intake may produce both additional power and better fuel economy. Underdrive pulleys may also help reduce fuel consumption by reducing the amount of power used by an engine’s accessories, which in turn reduces the power needed to run the engine itself.The most reliable way to improve an engine’s fuel efficiency is to ensure that everything is operating as intended by the factory, and that your engine is running clean oil of the proper weight. Once you’re sure everything is functioning properly, consider improving efficiency through the use of aftermarket components. This will allow your engine to make more power, and consume less fuel at the same time.