came In July 2019, residents of North Carolina and other states along the Eastern Seaboard kept an eye on Tropical Storm Barry, a weather system that seemed as if it would make landfall along the Louisiana coast as a Category One hurricane. Thankfully, TS Barry did not strengthen; it mostly dissipated upon arrival and spared the Raleigh region, but there were a few news headlines suggesting that gas prices would increase as a result of this weather event since fuel distribution systems would be disrupted. Although the disruption was minimal, average gasoline prices across the Carolinas ended up with a spike, settling to an average of $2.58 per gallon and expected to continue rising.
Compared to other areas of the country, drivers in the Tar Heel State are not subject to the high gasoline prices usually seen in Southern California. There, gas stations were charging up to $4.00 per gallon in mid-July. In countries such as Norway and The Netherlands, drivers pay more than $7 per gallon because of high taxation and environmental conservation laws. While North Carolina is unlikely to see such high gas prices, catching up to Southern California is not impossible. However, uncertainty in the global markets always has the potential to raise gas prices.
Naturally, geopolitical tensions and tropical weather systems are beyond your control with regard to gasoline prices; however, there are a few things you can do to keep your car as fuel-efficient as possible. One way to completely stop worrying about gas prices is to ditch the internal combustion engine and switch to a plug-in electric vehicle; if this seems too extreme, you can opt for a hybrid system, but there are less drastic ways to save at the pump through proper maintenance.
How Your Car’s Fuel Injection System Works
Unless you drive a classic powered by a legacy carburetor system, your car runs on a fuel injection system designed for efficiency, power, clean emissions, and a smooth ride. In essence, internal combustion engines mix air with gasoline before sending the mixture into the cylinders. Piston compression and sparks fired by the plugs result in combustions. And that is actually what serves as energy for the power plant and drivetrain.
Electronic fuel injection (EFI) systems were came about for the purpose of eliminating the old problematic carburetor systems. Your car has an engine control unit (ECU) or module that is constantly receiving new information from various sensors. The goal is to always inject the precise amount of fuel required by driving conditions, and this is one of the principles of fuel efficiency because it cuts down on gasoline or diesel evaporating, igniting poorly or being mostly wasted through emissions.
Some of the EFI sensors that provide data to the ECU include:
- Oxygen sensor
- Mass Airflow sensor
- Throttle Position sensor
- Manifold Pressure sensor
- Camshaft Position sensor
- Temperature sensor
EFI systems are comprised of quite a few parts. Starting with the gasoline or diesel tank, there are pumps, pressure regulators, air filters, valves, lines, hoses, injectors, starters, adjuster screws, spark plugs, and others. Luxury cars tend to have more sophisticated engine management systems with even more parts.
Fuel Systems Maintenance
If the gas mileage you became used to when you acquired your car has fallen to unacceptable and expensive levels, there is a strong chance that your fuel system is not working as efficiently as it should. Incorrect readings from oxygen sensor combined with dirty air filters can end up impacting fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent. If your spark plugs are misfiring or failing to ignite the fuel mixture, that is another 10 percent loss in terms of gas mileage. Since many of the EFI sensors depend on vacuum readings, cracked hoses or lines could also reduce fuel efficiency.
All the issues above can be determined and taken care of with proper maintenance. Extreme cases involve fuel leaks, which are not only expensive but also dangerous. Replacing an entire fuel system is a very expensive repair that is rarely a necessity. This is because issues are usually always solely certain parts or sensors within the system. The problem with failing to address EFI issues is that they can eventually affect the functionality of other parts. In the end, fixing fuel system problems that your mechanic recommends, is the way to go. This is because doing so will certainly save you money at the gas pump. As well, it will also help to prevent expensive repairs down the line.