Tag Archive 'Maintenance'

Jul 10 2008

Basic DIY Gas Mileage Tune-Up

Here’s just a few of the more common fuel economy tips that I through together so that everyone would have a starting point for good fuel economy in reference to their car’s condition. These things won’t give you a huge boost or anything like that, but you need to start off with your car in good condition if you’re looking to go somewhere far in terms of fuel economy. So, at the very least, be mindful of these things and realize how they affect your fuel economy.

General Tune-Up Information – Whether or not you’re losing fuel economy to an overdue tune up is really a matter of guesswork, however, this doesn’t prevent you from doing the actual tune up. Once done, you will know that you’re getting the most you can out of such things. Besides, you really ought to get it done anyway.

Some common things to include in the tune up:

  • Spark Plugs – I use NGK V-Power or Denso U-Grooves just because they are a reliable, copper stock replacement that’s cheap. Check out this page to learn how to read your old plugs to check in engine operation.
  • Plug Wires – Use a digital multimeter to check resistance compared to what’s specified in your shop manual to see if you need to replace these.
  • Distributor Cap and Rotor – These parts take the littlest, tiniest bit of wear with every spark. If they’re looking ridiculously worn down from the time a replacement might be in order.

Check Timing – Make sure your timing is within specifications with a timing light. Without proper tuning it is inadvisable to fiddle with your timing or leave the car out of time.

Motor Oil – A lighter weight motor oil will reduce internal engine friction. The Honda Insight, an excellent example of across the board fuel economy, uses 0w20 motor oil to keep friction down. Do this with caution, however, as lighter oils will increase oil leakage or consumption in more worn engines.

Grounds – Over the years your grounds get corroded and icky. Clean them up or replace them with some more blingtastic audio wiring to make sure they’re running at their peak.

Battery Terminals – Just clean them up with a wire brush, they get corroded and disgusting, no one like that.

Pump up the tires – This is perhaps the best thing you can do on this list. Most tires list the maximum pressure as 44 PSI, but members on www.ecomodder.com routinely step it up to 60 PSI. This may not give you a 20% increase in fuel economy, but you’re certain to gain a few percent out of reduced rolling resistance, and it doesn’t even cost anything!

If you’re interested in the safety of this change check out this police article that encourages over inflation for both safety and performance.

For more information on the fuel economy benefits of reduced rolling resistance and over inflation, check out this PDF.

Cleaning out the trunk – This is probably one of the smallest changes you’ll ever not see, but, for every ~100 pounds you haul around you’re costing yourself 1-2% of your fuel economy. So, if you’re carrying around a set of weights or something like that you just forgot about, get it out of there.

Take off that wing – Well, this isn’t exactly tune up material, but for as easy as it is to pop it off and plug the holes with some rubber grommets you might as well. Most wings are functionless, ugly things. Those that do have function increase downforce and therefore drag. While downforce may be a good thing at 100 MPH, how many fuel savers will be going that fast on a regular basis?

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