High fuel consumption: Causes and practical solutions

In view of incessant hikes in petrol and diesel rates, it should be a major economic concern of an average person, when his/her vehicle is not running optimally. Most problems related to high fuel consumption are linked to engine problems, directly or indirectly.

Here are five common issues that can stimulate your vehicle to burn more fuel while on the run:

  1. Dirty air filter

If your air filter is clogged with lint and other dirt particles, it will make it harder for air to travel to the combustion chamber. This means that the engine will have to exert more energy to perform, which translates to more fuel being burnt.


  1. Old engine oil

As time progresses, your engine oil becomes thicker and this affects how freely it can flow through the engine components. In turn, the engine constituents will require more fuel to operate.


  1. Low tire pressure

Keeping your tires pumped with the appropriate amount of air pressure goes beyond being able to run smoothly on the road. Low tire pressure results in more wear and resistance for the tires; a burden that is usually transferred to the engine to balance out the additional resistance by consuming more fuel.


  1. Air conditioning

Quite understandably, Nigeria has a highly tropical climate and air conditioning makes our journeys more bearable. However, it is noteworthy to understand that such luxury comes at a cost – higher fuel consumption! A vehicle’s engine requires more fuel to meet the demands of the air conditioning system. Interestingly, driving fast with the windows open encourages higher consumption of fuel because the vehicle battles wind resistance and more fuel to proceed.


  1. Deteriorating oxygen sensor

The purpose of oxygen sensor is to monitor the mixture of air and fuel in the combustion chamber. It sends cues to the power train control module to add fuel, as required. The implication of having a malfunctioning oxygen sensor is that it can communicate wrong signals to release more fuel than is required at any point in time.


There are some practices that require very minimal effort that can help to cut back on high fuel consumption and get your fuel economy on better levels:

  1. Ensure that your air filter is generally clean because this will enhance free airflow and put less pressure on your engine. You can also replace your air filter between intervals, as suggested by your owner’s manual.
  2. Make it a habit to frequently check your engine oil and change it, especially when it is a visibly dark hue.
  3. Gauge your tires with the right amount of air pressure so your vehicle can mobilise better, without resistance
  4. If you drive extremely fast, you may want to consider slowing down to burn less fuel
  5. When your vehicle is not in motion, it helps to turn off the engine instead of leaving it running
  6. When driving on a lower speed, keep your windows open. However, if you are driving rapidly, it is more economical to switch on the air conditioning

All things considered, improving your vehicle’s fuel economy does not have to be complicated. If you take advantage of some of these tips, your vehicle may not have to undergo major repairs to rectify high levels of fuel consumption. After exercising these cautionary measures, a visit to a mechanic should be your next action, if the problem proves to be more extreme.


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