Article by Justin Pritchard
Unstable fuel prices have Canadians in a bit of a tizzy – but one needn’t necessarily look for a new Mitsubishi Mirage/Jetta diesel/hybrid/Leaf/pedal car to cut fuel consumption and associated emissions by 10 percent or more.
Maintenance; it’s the original fuel-saver and it’s been around since before anyone figured on trying to partially propel a car along using a battery and electric motor mated to a gas engine.
Does your ride seem thirsty lately? Do you relish the idea of spreading out visits to your ride’s favourite watering hole? If so, here’s a quick look at some ways to reduce the fuel consumption of your trusty ride tonight. Like, tonight, tonight. These simple tasks can be carried out in minutes, often without any tools, and will start reducing your fuel bills instantly.
Clean your Fuel Injectors: Fuel injectors, not surprisingly, inject fuel into your vehicle’s engine. Thing is, when fuel injectors get old, they start to get all dirty and clogged and dribbly because of fuel deposits that get ‘caked’ onto their nozzles after engine shut-down.
Ever use a can of spray-paint that wasn’t cleaned before you last put it away two years ago? Same deal.
I’ll skip the science lesson and cut to the facts: dirty injectors don’t spray properly. Improper fuel spray is naughty and will make your engine less powerful and more thirsty.
Solution? A bottle of quality fuel-injector cleaner in your gas tank. You can get some for about five bucks. Pour it in and then (where appropriate and without breaking any speed laws), be sure to “Giver’ Blind River” a few times tomorrow on your way to work. The added injector pressure and heat engaged by full throttle will blast those wallet-emptying deposits clean away.
Remember – clean injectors mean a better air and fuel mix in the engine, more powerful combustion, and better mileage.
Lighten your Engine’s Load: Making things harder on your engine is a great way to burn fuel excessively, and millions of drivers unduly strain their engines every day without knowing it.
Example 1: Low tire pressure makes it harder for your engine to turn the wheels, which wastes fuel along with accelerating tire wear and reducing handling and grip and stability. Solution? Grab the tire-pressure gauge, check tire pressures, and adjust accordingly. Congratulations: you’ve just completed one of the easiest and most wholesome fuel-saving maintenance jobbies related to vehicle ownership.
Example 2: Unneeded roof racks and cargo boxes and bike carriers turn your ride into Rob Ford – adding weight and mass, turning up the drinking, and significantly reducing aerodynamic performance. Remove unused roof or body-mounted storage implements, and your engine will reward you by drinking less and moving around more easily.
The All-Important Air Filter: Like you and I, your ride’s engine is fond of breathing in clean, fresh air. An air filter, which usually looks a bit like a funny accordion thingy with a plastic or rubber frame, sits between your engine and the air outside, ensuring no dust, bugs or dirt get inside.
Do you remember when that air filter was last changed on your ride? If not, chances are it’s overdue.
Ever watched UFC wrestling and seen a big, sweaty fella put his opponent down with a badass rear-naked choke-hold? That’s what a dirty air filter does to your engine. And much like with a choke-hold, it’s quickly game over for your fuel mileage if things go unattended.
Remember: a clogged and dirty air filter can cause your ride’s powerplant to use up to 50 percent more fuel than it needs to. In most rides, changing the filter is a few-minute job that requires little more than your bare hands. Your parts store will probably hook you up with a new filter for under $20, and you should change yours more frequently if you frequent gravel roads or live in a dry, dusty locale.