5 Low-Cost Ways to Make Your Car More Energy Efficient

5 Low-Cost Ways to Make Your Car More Energy Efficient

Having an energy-efficient car is a concern to many people in Fort Collins due to dwindling natural resources like fossil fuels as well as the pollution and other environmental damage caused by burning these fuels. 

It is not always feasible though for the average person to go out and buy a new car that is more energy-efficient than their current vehicle. The next best thing is to make sure that the car you already own is operated in the least environmentally damaging way.

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Pay attention to Tire Pressure and Alignment

An underinflated tire will “spread” giving it a wider footprint than normal. This might seem to be a good thing as it would seem to give the grip characteristics of a wider tire. However, this is not actually the case. An underinflated tire often causes part of the sidewall to collapse slightly. This will affect the handling and grip characteristics of the tire and cause:

  • Premature wear
  • Possible safety hazards
  • Extra drag due to the softer, wider shape of the tire

Tires inflated to the incorrect pressure have a double impact on energy efficiency:

  • Because they cause extra drag they cause the vehicle’s motor to have to work harder to maintain speed and therefore use more fuel than necessary
  • Tires contain a lot of material produced from petroleum (crude oil). If they have to be replaced prematurely more demand is created for this already scarce resource   

Misaligned wheels will also cause the tires to run off true and cause unnecessary resistance. Make sure that realignment is performed regularly to prevent your car from wasting fuel.

Reduce Excess Weight

The amount of fuel a car consumes is influenced by its overall mass as this affects the power to weight ratio. It is due to the effect of this ratio that the cars used in racing have all unnecessary items removed to lighten the vehicle. Often this includes items like unused seats. 

Obviously, it does not make sense to rip the seats out of a personal vehicle in order to save a little fuel. It is possible though to make sure that the car is not carrying unnecessary items that add weight. Regularly check in the trunk for items that may have been forgotten there and that serve no valid purpose. Remove all such items.

woman driving her serviced car in fort collins colorado

Keep on Top of Maintenance Issues

Lack of timely servicing will lead to a motor that does not operate at its peak. Inefficient motors use more fuel per mile than those that are in good condition. Aside from the engine, there are also other parts of the car that should be regularly checked for example; braking, suspension, and transmission systems. 

Brakes that do not release properly and cause slight but constant drag will push fuel consumption figures up. Wheel bounce caused by worn-out shock absorbers, a slipping clutch or an inefficient gearbox can also all lead to fuel wastage.   

Give Some Thought to Aerodynamics

As a car speeds up it has to overcome increasing amounts of wind resistance. The less wind drag a car produces the less fuel it will use. Obviously, the average family sedan, station wagon, or MPV can’t be reshaped to have the aerodynamic characteristics of a sports car but there are several ways to keep wind drag to a minimum:

  • Keep the car clean and waxed. Polished surfaces slip through the air rather than creating turbulence like dirty, pitted surfaces
  • Keep windows closed whenever this is practical
  • Immediately repair all cracks and chips on window glass as well as scratches and dents on the bodywork to prevent them from disrupting the airflow over the vehicle
  • Limit the use of any external items that can create extra wind resistance. For example, remove roof racks and bicycle racks when not in use.
man using a bike rack in fort collins

Driving Style Matters

One of the most important factors affecting the fuel usage of a car is the person driving it. Drivers should adopt a style that minimizes fuel use (as well as wear and tear to the car). Here are some tips:

  • Pull off firmly but smoothly
  • Change up to the next gear as soon as is possible without burdening the motor
  • Anticipate conditions ahead as much as possible to allow for a smooth driving style that minimizes hard acceleration and braking
  • Wherever possible plan trips ahead to avoid peak traffic situations. Stop-start driving is a major cause of fuel wastage
  • If they are available in your area enroll in an advanced driving course that teaches smooth and Eco-friendly driving techniques

Weston Auto Service is an auto repair specialist located in Fort Collins, Colorado. We are ASE-certified mechanics specializing in foreign and domestic auto repair. For a free diagnostic and full analysis of your car problem please contact us or call us at 970-377-3333.

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