Fuel Efficiency Myths

We’ve talked before about ways to save money at the pump. But just as there are many great tips to help improve your vehicle’s fuel economy, there are numerous fuel efficiency myths that don’t actually do anything to increase mileage—and some of these practices can even harm your vehicle.

The Modern Gas Gauge (image from flickr)

The Modern Gas Gauge (image from flickr)

Myth #1 – Gas mileage decreases as vehicles age.

If you keep your car or truck properly maintained and take care of necessary repairs as they arise, you shouldn’t notice any significant decrease in fuel economy as your vehicle ages. Just make sure to watch out for dirty fuel injectors, defective oxygen sensors, worn spark plugs and plug wires, and a leaky gas cap.

Myth #2 – Shifting into neutral at stops conserves gas.

Unless you drive an older vehicle with a carburetor, shifting into neutral at stops won’t conserve gas. Modern vehicles have computerized fuel-injection systems that sense if an engine is revving above idle when you ease off the accelerator. When this happens, the fuel injectors shut off, so gas is no longer injected into the engine, even if the car is still in gear. Not only is shifting into neutral ineffective when it comes to saving gas, it can actually cause premature wear on shift components.

Myth #3 – Topping off the tank improves gas mileage.

Unless You're a Pro, A Stick Probably Won't Improve Your Mileage. (Image from flickr)

Unless you’re a pro, a stick probably won’t improve your mileage. (image from flickr)

Many people think that by topping off the gas tank they’re getting as much fuel as possible into their vehicle, enabling them to go just a bit farther between fill-ups. In reality, after your tank is full and the gas nozzle shuts off, any additional gas is drawn into a gas station’s vapor recovery system and back into its storage tanks. According to AAA, you could even damage your car’s evaporative emissions system by topping off your tank.

Myth #4 – Manual transmissions get better gas mileage.

In the old days, a manual transmission almost always achieved better gas mileage than an automatic because a reasonably skilled driver could control engine revs through efficient shifting. With modern vehicles, however, a high-tech automatic transmission is generally more competent than a driver using a clutch and stick shift. Not many Americans learn how to properly drive a manual transmission anymore, and given that a stick is usually reserved for high-performance cars, it’s difficult for the average driver to squeeze the best possible mileage from a vehicle with a clutch.

Myth #5 – Using cruise control saves gas.

Use your cruise, but not to save gas. (image from flickr)

Use your cruise, but not to save gas. (image from flickr)

Unless you’re on a long highway trip on very flat terrain, your cruise control system probably won’t save you much gas. You’ve probably experienced the sudden acceleration and engine revs that occur when you begin going up a hill with the cruise control on—this rapid acceleration burns a lot of fuel, just as if you floored the gas pedal yourself.

Myth #6 – Fuel additives can increase your gas mileage.

Most auto parts stores sell many different kinds of fuel additives that claim to improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Other than fuel-injector cleaner (which can help your fuel economy if your fuel-injectors are clogged and dirty), most fuel additives—even if they work as advertised—probably won’t save you enough money at the pump to cover their added cost. To help consumers, the Federal Trade Commission has a website dedicated to the claims of gas saving products: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0057-gas-saving-products.

Myth #7 – Filling up when it’s cooler gets you more gas.

You may have heard that if you buy gas in the coolest part of the day, you get more fuel for your money because a cooler liquid is denser. However, gas is almost always pumped from underground storage tanks that are naturally insulated from temperature swings—which means a slight change in outdoor temperature won’t significantly affect the gas, or save you any money.

Lowering the tailgate decreases fuel efficiency. (image from flickr)

Lowering the tailgate decreases fuel efficiency. (image from flickr)

Myth #8 – Lowering a truck’s tailgate improves gas mileage.

Many pickup truck drivers incorrectly believe that lowering the tailgate is better for aerodynamics and therefore improves gas mileage. But, in fact, driving with the tailgate up is more aerodynamically efficient—air flows over the truck, falls over the cab, and pushes forward on the rear of the truck. The benefits of that airflow are lost when the tailgate is down. Replacing the tailgate with an aftermarket net is worse than having no tailgate at all; it’s like dragging a fishing net through water.


~ by 2ndtononeservice on September 22, 2014.

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