Northern VA Auto Repair


Get Good Miles Per Gallon and Start Saving

Get Good Miles Per Gallon and Start Saving

Miles per gallon, MPG, is the distance that your car can travel per gallon of fuel. Also referred to as gas mileage, it is important to know the fast facts of how much fuel your car burns in comparison to the distance covered driving around Northern Virginia. Good MPG depends on many factors, such as the car's type or class, engine size, types of fuel, driving conditions, etc. Having good MPG lowers your overall operating costs and improves fuel efficiency. 

Calculate Your MPG

A simple way to calculate your MPG, if it doesn't appear on your display, starts with driving your car for a reasonable number of miles from a full tank. Note the beginning and ending miles on your odometer, then fill up your tank from what you have used. With these two metrics, divide the number of miles traveled by the amount of gas used after filling up the second time. As an example, if you traveled 100 miles starting with a full tank and were able to refill two gallons, you would have 50 miles per gallon. 

What is Good MPG?

New vehicles have a better MPG than used vehicles just due to the fact that newer vehicles aren't experiencing any wear and tear damage or system build-up. For a newer vehicle, good MPG should be between 50 and 60, however could go down to about 40 MPG if it is a larger car or SUV. New vehicles have an overall improved fuel economy, which helps to minimize costs and have a smaller tax due to reduced CO2 emissions. 

Electric vehicles, EV, don't have the MPG metric since they do not run on gasoline. Instead, Evs have a MPGe metric, which is a miles per gallon equivalent. This measures how many miles traveled for one-gallon gasoline equivalent to electric energy. This should be around 60 MPG.

Used cars should have anywhere between 30 to 40 MPG, however don't take this as a strict baseline. For used cars, there are many factors to consider such as miles driven, number of oil changes, parts replaced, etc. These factors can cause the MPG to fluctuate, as parts have depreciated over the years of use. When considering a used car, there are a few factors that contribute to having good MPG. Check the vehicle's history to understand the state of the engine. A used car with reasonable mileage that is no older than eight years is usually a good bet, as the car will have similar fuel-saving advances that a newer vehicle would have.

What Causes Bad MPG?

1. Driving Habits

Your driving style is one of the most important factors considering miles per gallon. This includes pressing the brakes too hard, accelerating, and taking rough turns. These factors cause the car to burn extra fuel, reducing the MPG over time. Aggressive driving habits can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and around 5% driving around town. Practicing sensible driving habits can save you $0.18-$1.18 per gallon in fuel costs, based on speeds you travel often

2. Fuel System

The fuel system stores fuel and supplies it to the engine while it is running, feeding a regulated amount of fuel to the engine for optimal performance. Too much, and it will cause a fuel loss, while too little will cause engine failure. Signs of fuel system issues include rough starting and idle, losing power, slower acceleration, and slow response from the engine when pressing the gas pedal. If you are facing any of these issues and getting fewer miles to the gallon, pop into your neighborhood Craftsman Auto Care location and we can take a look at it for you! Based on our initial inspection, our BG services may be just what you need!

3. Idling Car

Idling the car while leaving the engine running will result in poor MPG, since the engine is continuously consuming fuel even though you are not traveling. 

4. Exhaust System

The exhaust system supplies the fuel in the engine for combusting and generating power, working to remove the used fuel and gasses out of the engine. When damaged, used fuel and gasses can build up or leak, reducing efficiency that causes performance to drop and decrease MPG. The exhaust system has various parts that can be damaged. It is made up primarily of five parts - oxygen sensor, exhaust manifold, catalytic converter, and muffler - all joined together with seals that minimize any leakage. 

Exhaust leaks are one sign of damage and can be very dangerous due to the fumes omitted. Noises and performance can be another indicator. chugging ot rhythmic hissing coming from the engine area or tailpipe. Rattling under your car could point to something becoming loose, misaligned, or disconnected, and a loud metallic vibration could mean that something is touching the exhaust pipe. If you can relate to any of these situations, pop in to your neighborhood Craftsman Auto Care to get a full inspection, and we can get you safely on your way!

5. Tire Air Pressure

All tires must have equal pressure for optimal performance, which varies based on vehicle specifications. The tires must have the pressure to avoid premature wear and tire drag. 

6. Air Filter

Your engine needs to clean air to burn fuel. Debris and dust builds up on the air filter over time, resulting in the fuel to not burn properly. This leads to unutilized fuel leaving the car engine, causing the MPG to drop. 

7. Motor Oil

The motor oil facilitates the smooth movement inside the engine. It is important to use the right kind of oil for the vehicle and engine. Our experienced team of technicians can guide you through the process of choosing the right oil for you and your vehicle!

8. Engine Valve Gasket

The valve cover gasket is a rubber structure that sits between your engine cylinder head and the other components, preventing oil from flowing out while running. If damaged, the oil will leak while driving, causing a drop in miles per gallon. 

9. Spark Plugs

Spark plugs keep you moving. They ignite the mixture of air and fuel within the cylinders of your engine, and are vital to your vehicle's ignition system. If the spark plugs are not working properly, then the engine will generate less power. The fuel that has been supplied will be lost, resulting in a significant drop in miles per gallon. Some indicators that the spark plugs are not working properly include trouble starting or accelerating, a very loud engine, and if the engine tends to idle or misfire. 

10. Keeping the Side Windows Open

Having the side windows open while driving ruins the aerodynamics of the vehicle. There is more air resistance when the windows are down, causing the car to push through it to travel. Keeping your windows up will increase the energy consumption and use more fuel or less distance. 

Improving MPG

Based on the various factors above, there are different ways to improve your miles per gallon.

1. Regular Maintenance

Visit our shops for factory-scheduled maintenance, keeping the car healthy and the MPG at a standard level. 

2. Avoid Aggressive Driving Behaviors

Avoid pushing the brakes too hard, accelerating rapidly, and taking hard turns. Slow down and enjoy the ride! Your vehicle's fuel efficiency decreases as your engine generates more speed. 

3. Reduce the Weight of the Car

An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce your MPG up to 2%, so try to avoid keeping any unnecessary items in your vehicle. 

4. Keep the Side Windows Closed and Use A/C

This will increase the aerodynamics of the car, resulting in less air resistance and a higher MPG metric. 

5. Don't Idle the Car with the Engine On

Idling your vehicle can use a quarter to a half-gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and A/C use. Turning off your engine when you vehicle is parked can save up to $0.03 per minute. 

6. Keep the tire Pressure at the Optimal Level

Reducing direction will allow the car to move more efficiently on the road. 

7. Do Not Drive on Bad / Expired Gas

Bad or expired gas left from leaving a car idle for a few months will ruin the fuel system and hamper the engine, reducing engine performance and decreasing miles per gallon.


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