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Do Clean Cars Get Better Fuel Efficiency?

BY: Andrew Giorgi
Driving on a road with a dirty windshield

Over time, you may have noticed that your vehicle seemingly gets fewer miles per gallon (mpg) despite the fact that mechanics have checked it and verified nothing is visibly wrong. This can be a frustrating experience, especially if you have received good fuel economy in the past. The reason for this deteriorated performance may actually be something you never thought of: your car is dirty.

A clean car is more than just a sharp physical appearance. To truly clean a vehicle, the inner workings need to be touched up just as the exterior does. Learn about the relation between clean vehicles and fuel efficiency and how to improve your own fuel mileage.

What Is Fuel Efficiency?

For those unfamiliar with fuel efficiency, it is the level of efficiency in which a vehicle uses its gasoline, diesel, or another power source. It is often confused for fuel economy, which is the direct amount of distance your vehicle gets based on the amount of gas in the tank. While these two concepts are not the same, fuel efficiency can directly impact fuel economy.

To put it into perspective, a car with high fuel efficiency may use 6 gallons of gas to go 100 miles, whereas another larger car may use 8 gallons to go 100 miles. In the long term, the first driver will have used 6,000 gallons to go 100,000 miles, whereas the second driver will have used 8,000 gallons to go 100,000 miles. This results in thousands of dollars less paid in gas for the first driver.

While it may seem like the above example is simply fuel economy, fuel efficiency is what determines the actual value. Over time, a car’s fuel efficiency can decline if it is not taken care of properly.

Are Dirty Cars Less Fuel Efficient?

In most cases, dirtier cars are less fuel efficient than cleaner cars due to three main factors. Over time, dirt and other contaminants can dirty the exterior of your vehicle and actually impact its aerodynamic drag. This drag builds up over time and reduces a vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Secondly, if a person does not replace their air filter when they should, the clogged airflow can impact engine performance which will have a secondary impact on fuel efficiency. Finally, the general contaminants that build up under the hood can work their way into the gas tank and get sucked into the gas pump as your car functions. These contaminants can reduce the overall performance of your vehicle and its emissions at highway speeds or on a standard road.

How to Properly Clean Your Car

Washing wheel arch with a jet of water in a self service car wash

Most people assume cleaning a car just means taking it to the car wash and calling it a day. While this is a solid step towards preserving fuel consumption over time, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Consider some of the following tips for how to properly clean your vehicle:

  1. Take your car in for preventative maintenance on a regular basis
  2. Replace your air filter at the proper intervals
  3. Get an interior and exterior car wash to lift off all potential dirt
  4. Wax your car to pick up any hidden dirt
  5. Check your tire pressure to ensure aerodynamics will not be affected
  6. Use cleaning solution, not just water

It’s not enough for your vehicle to simply look clean. Taking proper care of your car is about repairing items when they need to be repaired, as well as knowing when to replace parts so that they don’t damage the rest of your vehicle.

How to Save on Gas

Gas is one of the most expensive parts of owning a car, and having poor fuel efficiency will inevitably make you spend more on gas. Learning a few helpful ways to save money on gas is one of the best ways to cultivate an efficient vehicle. First and foremost, consider joining a gas rewards program that gives back some type of incentive based on what you spend.

Additionally, small strategies such as turning your car off rather than idling in a parking spot before going somewhere can help you save gas over time. Focus on improving your driving habits by avoiding traffic whenever possible, not skipping your oil changes, and watching your speed. Exceeding the speed limit is not only illegal, but it will cause you to waste more gas than is necessary.

How to Take Care of Your Car and Get the Most Benefits

Taking proper care of your vehicle does more than just help you improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. There are three primary strategies you should use to protect your vehicle and receive the most benefits:

  • Tackle preventative maintenance: Preventative maintenance is the strategy of handling repairs on a regular basis to ensure no serious maintenance is needed.
  • Invest in an extended warranty: An effective extended warranty package, such as those offered by Endurance, can protect your vehicle from wear and tear items to save you both time and money.
  • Visit the car wash periodically: Cleaning your vehicle, as outlined above, is imperative to the longevity of your vehicle. Aim to get your vehicle washed at least once a month.

If drivers follow all three tips above, they will have a better chance of keeping their vehicles fresh for years to come. Better fuel mileage, both economy and efficiency, as well as the prevention of serious mechanical breakdown are just some of the benefits that can be seen.

Protect Your Vehicle with Endurance

With gas prices going up, improving the fuel efficiency of your vehicle is important. However, it’s only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping your car running properly. Handling wear and tear as soon as it occurs, and ideally before, is equally as important but costly. That’s where an Endurance auto protection plan can come in.

Our Superior plan offers high-level stated coverage for parts such as brakes, air conditioning components, electrical components, and much more, saving you time and money on repairs. Additionally, each Endurance contract comes with Elite Benefits, for a small activation fee, that offer bonus perks such as 24/7 roadside assistance, up to $1,000 in total loss protection, and up to $500 in collision discounts.

To find out more about Endurance Warranty protection, call (800) 253-8203 to request a FREE quote or shop online today! Read more about extended warranties, car comparisons, and more on the Endurance blog.

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