Top 4 Factors Affecting Fuel Economy

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Vehicle owners everywhere worry about fuel economy. Some will come up with inventive ways to save gas, while others will seriously consider investing in new technology, like a hybrid. For the typical consumer, the importance of fuel economy cannot be overstated. Fuel is still one of the largest costs associated with owning a vehicle, and while no one has control over the cost of the fuel at the pump, you should still understand the different factors that affect fuel economy, especially if you’re interested in auto careers or auto technician training.


A vehicle’s weight influences how much energy it needs to move, which, of course, can require more or less fuel, depending on the case. Not only does a compact weigh much less than a truck or an SUV, its size also means it can afford to have a smaller engine that doesn’t have to work as hard to move the vehicle forward. Between two vehicles of the same size, the materials from which components are created usually determine which vehicle weighs less.


The volume of air that the engine consumes in a single revolution is known as displacement. To understand how this affects fuel economy, just picture an engine throttling along. The more air that needs to be pushed while the engine is in movement, the more energy the engine requires. This measure is usually expressed in liters. The higher the number, the more fuel the engine burns while it’s in movement.

Aerodynamic efficiency

Throughout the years, the word “Aerodynamic” has been used as a marketing buzzword. But what is aerodynamic efficiency, and how does it affect fuel economy? Well, it’s simple. Air, like liquid, offers resistance when you move. Curves and a well-designed shape can minimize this resistance, also known as drag. On the other hand, a vehicle that’s fairly tall and possesses few curves, like a truck, will use more fuel to move through the air. If a vehicle’s exterior seems strange, it’s possible that it was simply designed with the goal of reducing drag as much as possible.

Mechanical resistance

Aerodynamic efficiency is one thing, but what about mechanical resistance? For carmakers and professionals with auto mechanic training, designing or tuning-up vehicles is full of these types of challenges. If reducing drag to a minimum by tweaking the vehicle’s shape is difficult, reducing mechanical resistance is quite a complicated affair. Mechanical resistance refers to the amount of energy required by the vehicle to move all the different pieces in the drivetrain. The transmission, wheel bearings, axels and multiple other components all contribute when a car is in motion. All of these systems can be refined to minimize the amount of power each individual piece needs to move. For example, a manual transmission will generally produce less resistance than an automatic model.

Check out this video about improving fuel economy on a hybrid car:

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