GreenCars 101

Maintaining a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

Dave Nichols
Apr 2024
If you own a fuel-efficient vehicle, there are some things you should know about keeping it as fuel-efficient as possible. Regular maintenance will help you ensure it's running at its very best.
Man checking tires of an electric vehicle

How to Maintain a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

A simple vehicle maintenance schedule will help you maintain your fuel-efficient car. No matter if you own a gasoline-only powered vehicle that gets great gas mileage, a hybrid or plug-in hybrid fuel-efficient vehicle, the following tips will help you keep your car in tip top shape.

Mechanic Showing Customer A Tire

Fuel-Efficient Cars: Tire Inflation

There are many advantages to having properly inflated tires. First, they are safer on the road, last longer when properly inflated, and best of all, they offer optimum fuel economy. Every decrease of air pressure by one pound per square inch can decrease your fuel economy by 0.2 percent. To find the proper tire pressure for your tires, consult your owner’s manual. You will also find a sticker or plaque inside the driver’s door jam that will tell you what the proper tire pressure should be.

Old Oil Spilling Out From The Bottom Of A Car

Keep Your Oil Clean

By using the automaker’s recommended grade of motor oil, you can improve your fuel economy by two percent! Your owner’s manual will tell you which motor oil the manufacturer suggests for your car. Today’s engine oils also include additives that help keep your motor clean and operating at optimal condition. Full synthetic motor oil further reduces friction and improves fuel economy.

Customer Handing Their Car Keys To A Mechanic

Tune It Up

Another way to keep your fuel-efficient vehicle extremely efficient is to schedule your car for regular maintenance and tune-ups as suggested by the automaker. Regular oil changes and tune-ups can increase fuel efficiency by four percent.

Mechanic Examining A Tablet Running A Diagnostic

Maintaining Hybrid Vehicles

Today, hybrid cars (HEV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) are very popular, especially when they are crossover or SUV vehicles. They are not only great family movers, but their hybrid technology makes them extremely fuel efficient. The servicing of standard gasoline-powered cars is something we are all accustomed to, but what about maintaining plug-in hybrid cars?

Because all PHEVs have both an electric motor and a gasoline-powered engine, you will still need to carry out such standard maintenance as oil and filter changes, radiator coolant checks, brake and power steering fluid checks, hose checks, spark plug check, ac unit checks, as well as checking the suspension, the fuel filter and pump, and checking the tires for wear and tire rotations.

However, there are a few additional things to check on hybrid cars including the hybrid battery, hybrid air filter, the inverter coolant, the regenerative braking, and in the case of PHEVs, the charging port. As with all modern cars, these items can be checked during a service at your local Lithia Auto dealer. We’ll plug in an onboard diagnostic scanner (OBDII) to monitor your car’s sensor inputs and outputs to read any trouble codes that are used in diagnostic procedures. Each code corresponds to a specific fault in the system.

Mechanic Showing Documents To A Customer

Specific Hybrid Systems

When servicing your hybrid system, our technicians look for the following:

Hybrid battery: Hybrid batteries are used to power your car when the gasoline motor is not in use. A battery health check makes sure your battery pack is operating properly to aid hybrid performance and efficiency.

Inverter coolant: The technician will check for coolant leaks. The inverter coolant is different from the engine coolant in your gasoline-powered system. The inverter turns DC power into AC power to make the electric motor function.

Regenerative braking: Hybrids and plug-in hybrids use regenerative braking that takes the kinetic energy used during braking and stores it in the hybrid battery pack. The stored energy from regenerative braking recovery increases the original energy supply. We will also check for brake binding. This happens when the brake pads stick to the brake rotor, causing the car to slow down even when the brakes are not being used.

PHEV Charging port: We always inspect the charging port for any damage and replace any damaged parts as needed.

Man And Woman Driving Into A car

Ongoing Maintenance with Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

As with any gasoline-powered car, you should have the hybrid components of your car checked every 3,000 to 5,000 miles when your car is in for an oil change.

Check the automaker’s recommendations for service as found in your Owner’s Manual. If you need to have your hybrid serviced, let Lithia help. With over 280 dealerships from coast-to-coast, our ASE-certified technicians will have your fuel-efficient car back on the road quick and easy.

Front view of a Tesla Model 3 driving through canyon roads

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