Fuel is perhaps one of the most significant costs involved with owning a car. If you notice that your car’s fuel expenses are excessive, it can be a cause for concern. As such, you may be wondering why your car is using so much gas.
Your car is burning a lot of gas due to common factors experienced by all car owners. Some of the factors that impact fuel efficiency include the type of car you’re driving, mechanical issues with your vehicle, your driving conditions, and what you’re transporting.
This article will discuss different factors contributing to why your car may be burning excess fuel. We will also look at steps you can take to improve your mileage and ways to prevent your fuel efficiency from dropping.
The Type of Vehicle Affects Gas Consumption
It’s commonly assumed that larger vehicles tend to use more gas, and it’s true – if you have a large truck, van, or SUV, they will consume more gas. These automobiles use more fuel as it requires more energy to set heavier vehicles in motion.
However, older cars also tend to use more gas than newer models as they become less fuel-efficient over time.
Older cars could also have certain mechanical issues that prevent them from utilizing fuel efficiently. The older the individual parts of your vehicle, the more friction they generate when functioning, which requires more gas to set them in motion. Additionally, the older models tend to have different working parts, which may not be up to date with the efficiency of modern components.
If you’re concerned about your older vehicle not getting enough mileage, it may be time to see a mechanic. Common issues that need repair and are affecting your vehicle’s fuel efficiency can be quickly resolved by a mechanic. Older cars also use more energy when you’re getting them to speed up, and this requires more gas.
Maintenance Issues Affect Fuel Efficiency
Faulty mechanics are perhaps one of the most common reasons your car is using more gas than it should. These issues often range from minor fixes that can be performed at home to more complex problems that require an expert.
Here are a few common maintenance issues that may be reducing the efficiency of your car’s fuel consumption:
- Your tire pressure is too low. In a study conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory as reported by the US Department of Energy, the fuel efficiency of a vehicle is negatively impacted by the tire pressure. If the tires are 50 percent lower, it can reduce gas efficiency by more than 10 percent. Fuel efficiency is further reduced when the temperature is low as tire pressure drops considerably.
- You may need to change your transmission fluids. The quality of fluids in your vehicle affects its overall performance, which in turn determines the fuel economy. These include transmission fluids, and it’s crucial to regularly clean and replace the fluids in your car’s working parts. When these fluids aren’t clean, they cause added friction, causing the engine to work harder and use more gas.
- Regularly change your oil and use synthetic oil if possible. Using synthetic oil reduces the chances of having oil clog up your engine. The more clogged your engine, the more gas you tend to burn as a result. So it is important to get frequent oil changes and use a synthetic oil, as it’s typically easier for your car to process.
- Check your oxygen sensor. According to research reported by NBC News, having a faulty oxygen sensor could decrease fuel efficiency by as much as 40 percent. The oxygen sensor communicates with the fuel injector when it needs to add more gas due to low oxygen levels. If the sensor is broken, it will continue to pump gas for no reason, causing your car to unnecessarily consume more fuel.
Maintaining your vehicle is essential to improve its overall performance and positively affect fuel efficiency. Now that we know a few common maintenance issues that may be reducing your fuel economy, let’s look at how you can work towards improving it.
- Ensure that your tire pressure is at an optimal level.
- Change your car’s fluids on a regular schedule and check them intermittently.
- Ensure that your oxygen sensor is working correctly by checking it annually.
Fuel Consumption Depends on The Climate
The climate you live in plays a significant role in your vehicle’s fuel consumption. Staying in extreme weather conditions will lead to your car burning more gas.
Here I’ve listed a few ways in which the weather can affect the fuel efficiency of your car:
- Cold-weather driving can burn more gas. When it’s cold outside, your car uses more energy while driving because it needs to work harder to warm up the engine. And, as mentioned earlier, your tire pressure reduces in cold weather, causing you to use more gas. Additionally, because the temperature is cold, there’s resistance caused by the density of the air.
- Using the air conditioner increases gas consumption. When you’re driving in an area where the weather is hot, you may feel the need to turn on your air conditioner. However, reconsider this habit, and instead try rolling down the windows during some parts of the drive. According to Fuel Economy.Gov, switching on the air conditioner can use upto 25 percent more gas!
- Extreme weather conditions burn more fuel. In addition to the temperature, weather conditions like heavy rain, snow, and ice can also affect how much gas your car consumes. You burn more fuel in extreme weather because the lack of grip causes your car to work harder. Also, most of us typically drive slower in poor weather conditions, which reduces fuel efficiency.
- Humidity can cause your vehicle to use more gas. Under humid conditions you use more gas as moisture affects air density, and this change in density causes your engine to work less efficiently.
Understanding the various ways that weather can impact your fuel efficiency is essential if you want to minimize gas consumption. You can reduce your gas usage by simply avoiding certain weather conditions or ensuring your vehicle is optimized to handle extreme weather . Here are a few tips to help improve fuel efficiency during bad weather:
- Make sure your tire pressure is optimal.
- Roll down your windows when driving on slower streets in hot weather.
- Try to avoid driving during heavy rain, snow, or icy conditions.
Heavy Cargo Ends Up Burning More Gas
Just like the size and weight of your vehicle affects how much gas you use, what you transport also plays a role in fuel efficiency. The more weight you add to your car, the more energy it will take to get the car up to speed, and in turn, more fuel is consumed.
There are various factors that add extra weight to your car, one of the most obvious being any additional cargo you decide to transport. However, even the number of people in your vehicle play a crucial role in fuel efficiency. If you maximize the number of people riding in your automobile, just be aware that you will use more gas to move around due to the extra weight on board.
In most cases you can’t do anything about the extra weight on board your automobile; it may be necessary for you to transport certain people or cargo in your vehicle. However, if you’re taking a drive or traveling on your own, it’s best to reduce the weight of your vehicle as much as possible. A lighter vehicle will consume less fuel, allowing you to save some money in the long run.
Sandbags are a classic example of unnecessary weight in your car. Some people use sandbags during winter for stability, especially if they don’t have a four-wheel drive. However, if it’s spring or summer, you can take these sandbags out and reduce the overall weight, improving fuel efficiency.
Driving Fast Can Consume Extra Fuel
Another common reason why your car is burning so much gas is that you’re constantly speeding. Driving at faster speeds is known to correlate with increased gas consumption. The US Department of Energy reports that when your speed exceeds 50 miles per hour, fuel efficiency drops quickly.
You can quickly fix your car’s problem of fuel consumption by slowing down. Take your time on the road and stay within the speed limit, and you will notice an improvement in the fuel economy of your vehicle.
It is essential to pay attention to how much gas you are using to save money and reduce emissions. As discussed, there are many reasons why your car could be using more gas.
If you’re concerned that your car is burning too much gas, these are a few factors to keep in mind.
- Check the fluids of your car to ensure they are filled up properly and clean
- Drive in more ideal weather conditions
- Reduce the overall amount of weight that you are carrying in your vehicle
- Consider seeing a mechanic if your car is an older model
See also: I Ran Out of Gas: Who Can I Call?