7 reasons why your car's fuel consumption spikes

17/01/2019

Have you noticed that your car has been consuming a lot of fuel lately? These are 7 reasons why it may be, either from your fault or potential car problems.

First, let's get familiar with a concept that is used to measure your fuel economy - the L/100km, as known as the Litres per Kilometres., or Miles per Gallon in some countries in the west like the US or Canada. This tells you how much fuel your vehicle consumes after a certain distance (1 kilometer this time). Needless to say, if this number is high, it's time for you to double check the fuel system, and yourself too. Sometimes the excessive fuel consumption seems not really that significant, but over time, it can add up to a considerable amount, so start paying attention to it right now.

There is a common reason why the amount of fuel consumption is so high. As we all know, the maintenance habit of us Nigerians are terrible, leading to many components of the car not being properly taken care of, nor the fuel system. In addition, our driving habit is equally bad, with all the abrupt accelerating and braking.

African man driving car

The driving habit is greatly responsible for low fuel economy

If you're the one who frequently drives in the crowded streets of Lagos, you know what I'm talking about. Then, of course, you could point to some sort of subjective causes too, and that's fine. As long as you do something about it. Some people are so careless in their driving and maintaining the habit, they don't mind wasting a few thousand Nairas every time some faulty occurs. Those people don't know that the problem they neglected sometimes cannot be bought and temporarily "taped". Eventually, the car would reach its limit. From there, issues and defect would burst out to the point of no return. We personally know someone who used their car so recklessly and only fixes the problem until its a bit late. Gradually, his car turned into a write-off and he had to get rid of it long before he expected.

Here we go!

Long idling

This is the habit of the many motorists in Nigeria. We often leave our car running for couples of minutes before really driving it. Maybe because we have to get back to pick up something that you forgot switching the engine off or we're busying chatting with a neighbor or a friend. Maybe next time, try to boil down the fuel money you lost every minute, on paper, so that you'd be more aware.

Reckless driving habit

If you frequent the busy streets of Lagos, you'd know that sudden braking and accelerating are very common. One of the reasons might not come from us, but from "that driver" who always seems to appear out of nowhere and get on your nerve by crossing your lane without any sign. No matter what the reason is, always be mindful of how you brake and accelerate - do it gently and slowly, so that your fuel tank and your tires and brakes will thank you.

someone holding foods and taking their hands off the wheel

Always pay full attention to the road when driving

Excessive use of AC

As you already know, the AC system uses your fuel, not electricity, to operate. Some people have the habit of switching on the AC system the moment they step inside the car. This is really an unnecessary practice because the weather is not always that hot, and it's good to feel the wind once in a while. It's highly recommended to raise the windshield when passing a dry, dirt road though.

The AC system of a car

Only turn on the AC system when you really need it

Flat tires

This is just basic mechanic knowledge. A wheeled vehicle moves at its fastest speed when its wheels are always in a round shape. In order to keep the shape of a wheel a circle, it has to be inflated. In short, the less pressure inside the tires, the slower your vehicle goes and the less effective your fuel consumption is (because it burns the same amount of fuel in two scenarios but travels a different distance).

Generally speaking, there should be something printed on the tires that indicate the maximum pressure. If there isn't, you can always check in the car's manual. What's more, in a hot country like Nigeria, it is advisable to inflate your tire to a point that a little lower than the maximum recommended number, because gases tend to increase in volume when heated. To be extra certain, always carry a pressure gauge in your car. You can have it with a few hundred Nairas.

Someone hold a tire pressure gauge and a car tire

Carry a cheap pressure gauge to help determine time for a tire inflation

Dirty air filters and fuel injectors

The fuel injector's purpose is to spray fuel into the burning chamber. The stream of fuel should be fine enough so that it's burnt evenly and properly, otherwise there will be an unburnt amount that adds up to the fuel consumption without providing any energy to the momentum of the car. About the air filter, their function is to guard against dirt and debris trying to get into the engine while letting the air flow through the system to fuel the burning process. 

A dirty and a clean fuel injector

A dirty and a clean injector make this much difference in injection force

In either scenario, you should clean them both. The air filter is relatively easy since you only have to lift up the hood, take the filter out and clean whereas the injector is a bit harder. If you're not really sure how to do it, take it to the nearest auto and let them take care of it for you.

Lack of lubricant

Our car is similar to our body. We cannot "operate" efficient if our joints are not well and "lubricated" and so is our car. Our car needs a regular oil change so that to reduce friction and immature wear of its components. If you don't have an oil indicator in your car, just replace them after every 5000 kilometers. The number can be higher if you use synthetic oil.

someone putting lubricants in a car

Always remember to lubricate your components

Failed spark plugs

Just as important as the fuel injector. If this part is not replaced or maintained regularly, it will ignite less efficiently, leading to more waste of fuel. According to car experts, a malfunctioning spark plug can reduce your fuel economy by 30 percent.

>>> Like the article? Explore more handy tips for fuel saving shared by Naija Car News auto experts!