Gas Prices and Fuel Economy

It’s pretty obvious that gas prices have risen and will probably hold steady/be on the rise over the course of the summer.

Gasoline and diesel fuel are byproducts of crude oil. Crude oil is what’s extracted from the ground and comes from various areas of the world. So as supply and demand changes, it drastically influences the price of crude oil which is sold by the barrel. Right now there are many factors leading to high barrel prices. The war in Ukraine, supply/demand, politics, personal agendas, so on and so forth 😊  We could go on for days!

We are currently seeing local prices in the Omaha area around $3.84/gallon of gasoline as of writing this in early May 2022. Diesel fuel prices are even higher hovering around $5.00/gallon. When this happens, we also tend to see other supply chain issues and price increases that get passed on to us as consumers. Been to the grocery store or out to eat lately??

Now, I am a person myself with a family, a mortgage, normal bills and a commute to work. This kind of stuff has a major impact on all of us. My wife and I are watching more and more where are driving to try and save on expenses everywhere we can. A tank of fuel which I was paying under 50.00 for a year or so ago is now pushing low to mid 80.00’s. Couple that with taking kids to sporting activities and school events non-stop, and it really adds up quick.

Our business, as a trusted partner for you wants to give some tips about how you can maximize your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Step 1. – Make sure your tires are properly inflated to manufacturers specification.

A low tire or improperly inflated tire creates drag and rolling resistance and takes more fuel to move the vehicle down the road. Think of a properly inflated tire like a bowling ball, it rolls nice and smooth with little effort. An under inflated tire can be viewed like a sand bag. Now try rolling a sand bag down the road. It rolls, but not very nice. If you need to know what your tires inflate to, check in the driver’s side door jamb. There is generally a sticker that contains that information. Otherwise, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!

Step 2. – Make sure your engine’s air filter is clean.

The engine’s air filter is much like the furnace filter in your home. It traps all sorts of dust and dirt and prevents it from going through your furnace, duct work, and eventually the air you breath. Your vehicle’s engine uses a precise mixture of air and fuel which is ignited by a spark plug and it needs clean air. Over time, the air filter starts to collect more and more and becomes restricted. This restriction causes the engine to work harder to pull air in which sacrifices fuel economy. Making sure your air filter is clean and replaced as needed is a very simple thing to help gain some fuel economy.

Step 3. – Having proper vehicle alignment.

When you’re driving your vehicle down a pretty flat straight road, does it seem to drift one way or another or pull constantly to the right or left? Is your steering wheel not centered? Having to constantly correct a vehicle’s motion puts drag on the tires and creates rolling resistance much like having a low tire that we talked about earlier. Vehicle alignment is measure in thousandths of an inch sometimes it can be off just a bit that we barely notice it or don’t notice it at all. Alignments are a key to helping achieve good fuel economy.

Step 4. – Fuel injector and engine intake/exhaust valve cleanliness.

This is a topic not talked about too much, but there’s a lot to be gained in this area with most vehicles on the road today. As your engine is running, it gets hot. When the engine is shut off, there tends to be some liquid fuel on the tips of the fuel injectors. This fuel over many, many heat cycles will turn into a carbon. This carbon effects the quality of fuel spray and can also restrict the fuel coming out of the injectors. When fuel is not atomized properly or injected in the proper volume, the engine may under perform and cause fuel economy loss. Again, this can be such small amounts it will not trigger a check engine light or even be felt by the driver. Today’s engine computers are designed to compensate and correct for minor issues, but fuel economy will drop.

As for valves, your engine valves are internal to the engine and let the clean air into the cylinder and the let the burned fuel/air mixture out into the exhaust pipe. Over time, they get build up of carbon on them as well due to normal operation. Newer cars with a newer design of fuel system known as Gasoline Direct injection or GDI, are even more prone to heavy buildup on the intake valves in particular. As the valves get buildup, it restricts the airflow path through the engine, much like a plugged engine air filter.

One of the things that can be done to combat this is a fuel and induction service that can be performed periodically. This one really is based on the individual vehicle in regards to what mileage this service should be performed. We can help you determine what this interval looks like!

Step 5. – (Last one I promise) Spark Plugs!

Spark plugs are the component in your engine that ignite the air/fuel mixture. Let me tell you what, they make some strong spark! Roughly 30,000 to 45,000 volts that jump a small gap and light the air/fuel. Over many millions of spark cycles the spark plugs wear out and need replaced. The manufacturer of your vehicle publishes a very specific mileage at which the spark plugs need replaced. This interval is to keep your vehicle operating at its peak efficiency. As you continue to drive on spark plugs past this interval, economy starts to suffer and the engine will start to run more poorly until eventually a misfire develops due to a failed spark plug. Most manufacturers have different intervals for required spark plug maintenance. It can range anywhere from every 30k, 60k, 90k, 100k all the way up to 120k on some vehicles. Spark plugs are very overlooked on most vehicles and do not get replaced until a more major problem is present.

We are here to help. With fuel prices so high and uncertainty of what they will do going forward, we can help you maximize your vehicles efficiency and help avoid some preventable component failures and break downs. All summer, we are running a fuel economy service special for 189.95. In this service, we will check and adjust all tire pressures, inspect the engine air filter and perform a complete intake and fuel system cleaning service with our engine cleaning system. We can also help determine if and when your spark plugs need replaced.

Thanks for taking the time to read this month’s blog, hopefully you gained some knowledge and learned some simple things that can be done to help keep your costs of fuel a bit lower. Until next time!

 

Matt Wagg

Owner – Accelerated Diagnostic & Automotive

Categories:

Gas Prices