Have you noticed a change for the worse in your car’s performance lately? We’ve all been there: a couple months ago, your car drove like a dream, and now there’s a whining noise coming from your back seat and your car failed its emissions test. These are six common reasons your car’s performance may decrease and how to fix them.
1. You’re Using the Wrong Fuel
Don’t be fooled by “super” and “premium” labels on the gas station pump. High-octane fuel isn’t going to be better for your engine if your car isn’t designed for its use. Your car’s owner’s manual will specify which type of fuel the manufacturer recommends, and it’s crucial to follow that recommendation for the best possible performance. If your engine isn’t engineered to burn higher-octane fuel, you could encounter a reduction in both power and fuel economy.
2. Your Spark Plugs Are Worn
Nowadays, spark plugs can last for as many as 100,000 miles. That being said, if your car is hesitating and you’re experiencing rough idling, it may be time to think about a spark plug replacement. A faulty spark plug will also upset your engine’s air-fuel ratio, so it’s wise to install a brand-new set of spark plugs as soon as necessary. Additionally, a worn spark plug can cause interruptions to the engine combustion process, resulting in engine misfires, unwanted engine noises, engine knock, and power loss. If you don’t have automotive experience, you may want to go to a mechanic for this one. Incorrectly removing or installing spark plugs has the potential to damage your engine– proceed with caution.
3. Your Air Filter Is Dirty
This is one of the most common reasons car owners experience performance issues. Fresh oxygen is vital for a healthy engine. Your air filter should be replaced every 15,000 miles, and it’s smart to inspect your air filter at every oil change. If you’ve gone years without replacing your air filter, this is likely causing poor acceleration as well as shortening the life of your engine. A damaged filter can allow small particles, such as salt on winter roads, through to the internal engine parts. This damage can be rather expensive to fix– it’s much smarter to replace your air filters as needed. You should also replace your cabin air filter if you’ve noticed your car doesn’t smell as good lately–when these get clogged with dirt, your cabin filter loses efficiency.
4. Your Fuel Pump Is Bad
Are you experiencing lower gas mileage, engine surges, sputtering, or whining in the backseat while driving? Is your car struggling or won’t start? You can check the pressure in your fuel lines using a pressure gauge. A reading of zero is often indicative of a dead fuel pump. Additionally, a blown fuel pump fuse in your car’s fuel pump is another clue that your pump has failed. To protect your fuel pump, you should refuel before your gas gauge dips below a quarter tank remaining. There could also be a problem with your fuel filter– ask your mechanic to check this first because it is a much less expensive fix.
5. You’re Blasting the Air Conditioner
If you’re wondering why your fuel economy is worse in the summer, the A/C may be to blame. Of course, driving in extreme heat is not a good idea either, but opening your windows may be the better choice for your vehicle. While open windows increase drag while driving, using your car’s A/C system burns much more gas– decreasing your gas mileage by up to 25% according to the EPA. Moreover, your A/C steals some power from the engine. The specific amount of engine loss depends on its size and power output, but it is notable.
6. Your Lift Supports Aren’t Working
Performance isn’t only about how a car can drive. Lift supports allow you to work comfortably under the hood of your car, helping you maintain a proper oil life and overall health of your car. Without proper lift support, these vital car maintenance tasks are more difficult to perform, leading to an increased risk of error. Hood lift supports usually last up to 50,000 miles before needing replacement. Luckily, many options, like these BMW lift supports, are accessible for drivers with any level of experience to replace. You don’t want to end up on the side of the road with car trouble and lift supports that have gone bad.