Basic car maintenance improves fuel economy

Did you know that keeping your car properly maintained can improve fuel economy by 4%; and fixing a serious issue, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by up to 40%?

By now most consumers are adopting fuel-saving strategies such as driving more efficiently, choosing a more economical vehicle, combining trips, carpooling, ditching unnecessary weight in the car, etc. “Take these money-saving strategies one step further by keeping basic car maintenance top of mind,” advises Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options.

Fixing a car that has a noticeable problem can improve fuel consumption by 4 percent, however results vary depending on the type of problem. For example, fixing a faulty oxygen sensor would result in a significant improvement in fuel economy. Repairing any alignment or brake problems would also improve petrol consumption. 

Below are a few additional maintenance tips that will help save petrol:

  • Properly inflate tyres, and check tyre pressure at least once a month. The correct tyre pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door. When tyres are inflated correctly, your car’s weight is distributed evenly, improving fuel economy as well as increasing the life of your tyre. When your tyres are under inflated, they are softer and therefore have a greater ‘footprint’ on the road. This creates more friction between the road and the tyre, and the vehicle needs to use more energy to keep moving. 
  • Use the correct motor oil for your vehicle. Use your car manufacturer’s recommended grade of oil for your vehicle. Also, look for oil that specifically says it is energy conserving.
  • Replace clogged air filters. A dirty or damaged air filter limits the amount of air flowing into your car’s engine, making it work harder and therefore, using more fuel.
  • Make sure the petrol cap is properly secured. Damaged or missing petrol caps allow petrol to escape and vaporize.

“Usually, any car maintenance will save you money in the long run, whether it’s regularly checking engine fluids or keeping your tyres at the correct pressure,” says Smit. “To see a real difference in your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, you will have to combine different strategies, from improving your driving to committing to regular car maintenance.”

The key to good engine performance is car servicing and maintenance as per the manufacturer’s instructions, or when it’s clear something is not quite right with the engine. As well as saving money on petrol, you save money in the long run by avoiding more serious problems that might arise if you neglect basic car care. 

“There are two ways to keep up to date with your car’s service requirements: either pay per service or pay a fixed monthly fee towards a Service Plan to cover the cost of services,” Smit explains. “One of the major benefits of a Service Plan is that it’s inflation proof. Throughout the year you might watch fuel prices and the general cost of living increasing, but you can trust that your Service Plan payments will not change during that year.”

A Maintenance Plan is one level up from a Service Plan. It includes all services, as well as wear and tear parts specified by the car’s manufacturer. These could include the gearbox, clutch, suspension, brake pads and discs.

“Taking care of basic car maintenance clearly prolongs the life of your car and improves sales value, but maintaining your vehicle also has hidden rewards that become more noticeable when you’re tracking fuel consumption,” concludes Smit.