After a long winter, it’s time to clean out the car and get ready for that great American past time: The Spring Break road trip. But before you pack your bags, take a minute to make sure your car is getting the m.p.g. you expect. Winter can reduce m.p.g., but if you’re still not getting good mileage after the snow melts, here are a few common culprits.
One of the most obvious and easiest issues to fix is incorrect tire pressure. Winter driving has a tendency to lower the pressure in your tires. This spring, make sure to inflate your tires to your car manufacturer’s specifications, which can usually be found on the driver’s-side door. (Avoid going off the tire’s specs, which may not be ideal for your car.)
If you’re noticing a significant dip in m.p.g., there’s a good chance you’ve got a bad oxygen sensor: When a sensor goes, it can take 20% of your fuel economy with it. These sensors work to make sure you’re getting the optimal mix of fuel and air. You can often feel it when a sensor goes bad as your car will tend to run rough, in addition to the loss of fuel economy.
Related to the oxygen sensor is your engine’s air filter. With the purpose of keeping harmful debris out of your engine, this filter can become a problem when it’s faulty, or needs to be cleaned or replaced because your engine can’t get enough air. Just imagine trying to run while you’re breathing through a straw—Not very efficient.
Luckily, pretty much all of these things are relatively quick fixes and, in the scheme of car repairs, won’t cost you too much. A final thing, and probably the hardest thing to fix out of this whole list, is your own driving habits. Aggressive drivers tend to accelerate and brake harder, which burns more fuel. So even if you’re excited to get out on the road this spring, remember to take it slow for your fuel economy’s sake.