A look at 5 parts that could be making your car or truck thirsty

Millions of drivers waste fuel needlessly every day, without even realizing it. Whether by carrying around extra weight or running a vehicle that’s in need of maintenance, bad fuel mileage often creeps up slowly – swilling away your hard-earned money, and contributing to excessive emissions. If you don’t monitor your vehicle’s fuel consumption regularly, increased fuel consumption can be even harder to detect.

Is your ride running at maximum efficiency, or is it wasting your money and polluting needlessly? If you’re not sure, here’s a look at four parts that can be easily replaced and one that should be removed when not in use, as a starting point, to help ensure your car, SUV or pickup isn’t drinking more than its fair share of fuel.


1. Air Filter
Do you remember the last time you changed or checked your air filter? If not, it’s probably overdue for some attention. Most pickup drivers should follow the ‘severe’ maintenance schedule for air filter replacement, increasing filter change frequency even further if they often tow, or drive on dusty, dirty roads. A clogged air filter makes it harder for your engine to breathe, which can burn up to 30 percent more fuel. Other negative side effects of a clogged air filter include reduced performance, and the increased likelihood of burning oil. Thankfully, changing an air filter on most cars or trucks is one of the easiest and least-expensive maintenance jobs.


2. Tires
Do your tires match the way you use your vehicle? Do you have a truck with an aggressive, blocky off-road or mud tire, even though you off-road mildly, if at all? A sport-oriented high-performance tire on your commuter? Specialty tires have a role in increasing the traction, grip and durability of your vehicle in certain scenarios, but running an oversized off-road tire or high-grip sport tire on the road can waste fuel in a serious way. Next time you need a new set of tires, consider how often you’ll use your truck off-road or what level of performance you really need, remembering that less aggressive tires are typically easier on fuel, and that if you’re primarily driving on the road, highway or light trails, running a tire designed for mud-bogging or rock-crawling or race tracks is costing you extra money every time you drive.


3. Fuel Injectors
Few parts of your vehicle’s engine can wreak havoc on fuel mileage like a bad fuel injector. Over time, these precisely-calibrated parts can become clogged, blocked, experience leakage, or otherwise malfunction and wear out—which messes up the efficient combustion process engineered into your engine. A fresh set of injectors can bring an old, higher-mileage engine back to life, though injector replacement is typically only required in severe cases. In many other cases, a simple fuel injector cleaner treatment, used occasionally, is all that’s needed to keep your truck or car’s injectors clean, efficient and in proper working order. Translation? Replace your injectors if your mechanic figures it’s necessary, and always keep your injectors clean by pouring an occasional bottle of fuel injector cleaner into your fuel tank.




4. Cargo Accessories
Weight and aerodynamics are two key areas targeted by engineers to save fuel. Still, countless owners leave roof racks, bike carriers, trailer hitches, towing-mirrors, bed-mounted storage implements, tool-boxes, and other accessories attached to their cars and trucks at all times, interfering with aerodynamic performance, adding hundreds of pounds of extra weight, and burning extra fuel. Removing your roof rack, toolboxes, bike-mount and other accessories when they’re not needed can reduce weight and fuel-sucking aerodynamic drag, leaving more money in your pocket when it comes time to fill up. Quality bike carriers and cargo racks can be easily removed, lickety-split, when not in use.



5. Spark Plugs and Wires
Like your vehicle’s fuel injectors, its spark-plugs and wires play an important role in maintaining fuel efficiency in all situations. Though most new cars require minimal attention to ignition system components for many years, older or higher-mileage units can often benefit from a fresh set of spark-plugs and wires. New plugs and wires give your engine a new spark (literally), and ensure the all-important ignition stroke is executed exactly as engineers designed it to. In many cases, changing plugs and wires can be tackled on a Saturday afternoon in the driveway, and for reasonable cost. As an added bonus, your vehicle will perform better, pollute less, and burn less fuel, too. Spark plug and wire kits are often sold together, making shopping easy and fast!


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