5 Tips to Improve Horsepower and Fuel Economy (MPG)

January 27, 2012

There are numerous ways to improve horsepower and increase fuel economy. Despite the fact that modern cars are increasingly more fuel efficient, there are still several simple things car owners can do to maintain or increase factory horsepower and fuel economy.

1. Replace the Air Filter

The air filter performs a vital engine function and should be replaced at the proper intervals to ensure the car is performing efficiently. Large volumes of air enter the engine and a dirty air filter not only reduces horsepower but it can also cause drivability issues. A clean air filter can potentially increase acceleration by as much as 10 percent although it may have little effect on fuel economy. Most auto manufacturers recommend changing the air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.

2. Maintain Proper Tire Pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is mandatory for safety and performance. Underinflated tires can cause a drastic reduction in fuel economy and increases rolling resistance, which can affect overall performance. Under or over inflated tires are a serious safety hazard and can affect ride quality, vehicle handling and stability. While tire pressure monitoring systems will alert the driver to low tire pressure, it is important to make sure all four tires are properly inflated. Most tire pressure monitoring systems will only report a significant drop in tire pressure. Maintaining the correct tire pressure can increase fuel economy by an average of 3%.

3. Perform Regular Oil Changes

Regular oil changes help keep the engine running cooler, which saves fuel and allows the engine to perform better. Dirty oil causes the engine to work harder and use more gasoline while also reducing available horsepower. Most new cars have oil-monitoring systems to inform the driver when it is time to change the oil. It is always a good idea to follow the car manufacturer's maintenance schedule and perform the required oil and oil filter changes at the indicated intervals. Using the recommended grade of oil can increase fuel economy by an average of 2%. Furthermore, it is best to choose oils labeled as "Energy Conserving."

4. Use High Quality Gasoline

Using high quality gasoline will improve gas mileage and overall engine performance. Gasoline can cause deposits to build up in the engine and fuel system which can reduce performance. Using a lower octane than is required can reduce horsepower, especially in high performance cars calling for higher octane fuels.

5. Tune Ups

A tune up can improve gas mileage by as much as 4%. Although a large number of new cars can go as long as 100,000 miles before requiring a tune up, some experts suggest that the spark plugs and spark plug wires be checked more frequently and replaced as needed in order to maintain optimal power and performance.

Cars are designed to achieve the highest possible fuel mileage and performance; however, a dirty air filter, low tire pressure and using low quality fuels can affect horsepower and MPGs. Proper maintenance will not only increase power and improve performance, but it can also reduce ownership costs.

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