How often do you wash your car? Once a month? Maybe twice a year? Whatever the answer, we bet you’d probably wash it more often if you knew it would lead to better fuel economy. But is it even possible?
Does a clean car equal better fuel economy?
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Yes! We know this is a shocking revelation. But the people from MythBusters put this experience to the test in one of their shows once upon a time. Their starting hypothesis was that dirt on a car would cause a “golf ball-like effect” that would improve its aerodynamics and therefore improve its fuel efficiency. To perform the test, hosts Jamie and Adam used an old Ford Taurus and ran several test drives with it to test its overall fuel efficiency.
To test it when it got dirty, they covered the car in mud and ran it around a few times. Then they cleaned the car and ran the tests again. According to Clean Tools Blog, the duo performed several tests to ensure the accuracy of the experiment. The results concluded that the car was 2 mpg more efficient when clean than when dirty. Specifically, the car achieved up to 24 mpg when dirty and 26 mpg when clean.
Why does a clean car achieve better energy efficiency?
Although it may seem strange that a clean car can achieve better fuel economy, it is not. In fact, it all depends on the aerodynamics. Protruding dirt and debris on your car creates a rougher surface for outside air to circulate. Due to this buildup, your car will have more resistance when traveling on the road, which becomes greater the faster you drive it.
However, if you clean the car – especially if you wax it – you will create a smoother surface for outside air to circulate around the car, resulting in better aerodynamics. After all, when automakers do wind tunnel testing on their cars, they’re usually flawless. This ultimately means that if you want to slightly improve your car’s gas mileage, don’t forget to give it a good wash. Hopefully more than twice a year.
Here are some additional tips for better fuel economy
While washing your car is an easy way to improve its fuel economy, there are plenty of other ways to squeeze out more miles per gallon. Here are some methods provided by AAA:
- Drive safely : Avoid “bunny starts” or rapid acceleration from a stop in addition to hard braking. It can increase your car’s fuel economy by 10-40% in traffic jams.
- Using cruise control: Using your car’s cruise control will allow it to maintain a steady speed on the highway, which can equate to more miles per gallon.
- Avoid excessive engine idling: When you leave your car engine idling, especially in cold weather, it hits 0 mpg. In this case, if you can, turn off the car if you plan to let it idle for more than a minute.
- Drive at the speed limit: We know it’s hard to keep to the speed limit on any road, but it can help reduce your car’s gas mileage since you’re driving slower.
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