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All you need to know about clean cars and fuel efficiency

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Is there a connection between a clean car and fuel efficiency? A clean car can give you a more polished look and feel great about your life. But can it, however, save you money?

The short answer is YES. 

Clean car and fuel efficiency

Clean car and fuel efficiency are not connected: Myth or Truth? 

It’s a widely known statement that a dirty car burns less fuel than a clean car. Considering that the dirt makes the car more aerodynamic, similar to the dimples on a golf ball. This is also referred to as the golf ball effect. But happily, MythBusters discovered that a clean car improves fuel efficiency. 

On the 14th episode of the 7th season, Adam and Jamie covered a car in dirt and mud, drove it at highway speeds down a track, and repeated the test after the car was cleaned. It was discovered that the dirty car had an average gas mileage of 24 miles per gallon. While the clean car had a better performance of 26 miles per gallon. Then they tested the myth’s reasoning as well as the performance of dimpled golf balls versus smooth balls.  

They discovered that dimpled golf balls flew nearly twice as far as smooth balls. Dimpled balls disrupt the air around them, resulting in a smaller wake and less drag. Adam and Jamie applied a layer of clay to a car and ran two more sets of runs on their track – one with a smooth clay surface and the other with dimples pressed into it – for a full-scale test. The fuel efficiencies were calculated to be 26 and 29 miles per gallon, respectively.  

They discovered that a clean car improves fuel efficiency by around 2 miles per gallon compared to a mud-drenched car. While a clean car can reduce drag, most people who keep their vehicles relatively clean won’t notice a difference if they keep them spotless. Although the original myth was debunked, the theory that supported it was sound, resulting in a final verdict of “BUSTED (CONCEPT PLAUSIBLE).” 

MythBusters Episode 127: Dirty vs. Clean Car (Trailer)

Hacks to maintain your car and its fuel efficiency 

Well, it’s not all about keeping your car clean by just having a car wash. There are some car maintenance tips that you could use after you’ve finished washing/waxing it. 

Driving with a lighter foot will increase your miles per gallon (MPG). Driving habits are difficult to change, so we won’t bore you with these obvious suggestions. These best practices, taken together, can make a small difference. But, more importantly, they can help to prevent future problems in the long run. 

When in doubt, drive to a car wash 

As previously stated, a clean car produces less drag overall, resulting in better fuel efficiency. Having said that, you should wash and wax your car regularly. If for no other reason than to remove contaminants that can lead to rust.  

  • Vacuum under the hood – Many people never open the hood, despite the fact that keeping the engine bay clean, as well as topping off fluids and changing filters, can have a greater long-term impact on engine protection. 
  • Clean out your engine compartment – While this may not be an issue for many, if you’ve never cleaned your engine bay, you’re probably driving a less fuel-efficient vehicle than you could be. Debris accumulation can cause the engine to run hotter, causing your vehicle to consume more fuel. It’s actually quite simple to clean those filthy black plastic engine covers. This won’t make much of a difference in terms of MPG. But it can help if you have leaves or other debris under the hood that makes it difficult for air to reach the engine. 

Replace your air filter regularly

Airflow to your engine is the most important tip for an engine to run at peak efficiency. A clogged or old air filter can cause engines to work harder and consume more fuel, which is why it’s critical to change your air filter on a regular basis or at the very least check it on a regular basis to dust off debris. 

While not a general maintenance tip, installing a cold air intake system provides additional cooling to the engine. This is likely to yield the greatest fuel efficiency gains for less fuel-efficient vehicles (such as trucks). But for now, we will limit ourselves to quick tidbits.

Fill your tires to the recommended pressure levels

According to fueleconomy.gov, inflated tires can improve fuel economy by 0.6 percent on average and up to 3 percent in some cases. If you aren’t checking your tire pressure regularly, this is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your fuel economy. 

  • Remove mud from your tires – If you own a truck with aggressive off-road tires and live in a muddy area, you understand how difficult it is to keep everything clean. Removing stuck-on dirt and mud can improve traction, which in turn can improve fuel economy. There’s a reason why Indy cars don’t have patterned tread on their tires – it creates drag. The same is true of those muddy, bulky mud tires.

Use a lower viscosity – and better – oil

It can be tempting to get your oil changed for a few dollars at a 5-minute lube, but the oils used in many of these establishments are often of poor quality, as many automotive manufacturers recommend. You can see a slight increase in gas mileage if you use a lower viscosity oil and a premium synthetic oil. These oils flow more easily through your oil pump and engine, resulting in less drag and better lubrication.

book now for a car wash

There you have it, a few simple checks to perform every time you wash your car that may just help you get slightly better fuel efficiency. If you drive fast or use low-quality fuel, none of these tips will make a noticeable difference. But they may be able to increase your fuel efficiency by a few percentage points when combined. Every little tip or hack helps. 

Wondering where to find the best car wash for your car in your location? We recommend you to visit Way.com or download the Way app (available on iOS and Android). Just scan and drive away with a spotless car, and no worries about how to dry it! Enjoy a safe and contactless car wash experience with Way. 

Read our blogs for information on the best airport parking and hourly parking spots near you and the most affordable insurance for your car.


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