An Oil Change and Fuel Economy

Refueling and pouring oil quality into the engine motor car Transmission and Maintenance Gear .Energy fuel concept.

Usually, when we talk about fuel economy, an oil change isn’t at the top of the list of discussion. The manufacturers are requiring lighter and lighter weight engine oil in all vehicles. 5w30 and 5w20 are being replaced with 0w16. I can hardly believe it, as 0w16 is like pouring water, it’s so thin.

The reason for the lightweight oil is to give better fuel economy to satisfy the CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) standards. This standard is set by our state and requires all car manufacturers to average 54.5 MPG by the year 2025. Don’t think for a minute that the changes are going to slow down anytime soon.

Believe it or not, an oil change can and will affect your miles per gallon, and here is why. Us old guys always grabbed the 20w50 oil for our cars and today two of the most popular oils are 5w20 and 0w30. The comparison would be 20w50 oil will pour like molasses, while 0w20 will pour like water. Thicker oil creates resistance inside the engine, slowing down moving parts and lowering your miles per gallon. A hybrid or very high mile per gallon car can lower mileage by 1 to 2 miles per gallon. We have observed this from some testing that we have done.

Is installing 5w30 oil in a car requiring 5w20 a concern? Yes and no. Yes, because it will affect fuel mileage, sometimes it is noticeable, sometimes not. And no, because using a slightly thicker oil will not hurt the internal engine components at all. Warning!! Thicker is not better, so please don’t use a very thick oil like a 20w50 in a modern car as that will cause issues.

Other ways carmakers are working to meet the CAFÉ standards are:

  • Using lighter materials
  • Turbo chargers
  • Gasoline direct injection
  • Hybrids
  • Smaller engine size
  • 10 speed transmissions
  • Synthetic oils in transmissions

With all these changes happening today, preventive maintenance is more critical than ever.

Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions, and we will be glad to help, or visit our website at

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The Hazards of Running on Fumes

gas station icon

Are you one of those people that wait until a warning beeps or the low fuel light illuminates? Do you feel confident you can go several more miles before actually running out of gas? Do you make a game of “I think I can, I think I can” meaning I think I can get to a gas station on just fumes alone? If so, read on!

I’ve known a few people in my time who enjoy the challenge of pulling up to the gas station on fumes. Sure…they have lost a few times and had to hoof it to the nearest station, buy a gas can and walk back to where their trusty vehicle finally stopped. Some even brag after this experience that now they actually know for sure how many miles they can drive after the fuel warning lights up! I’m happy those people enjoy such games and challenges, but playing that game can have costly, not to mention damaging results for your vehicle.

How Does the Fuel Pump Work?

Most vehicles have an electric fuel pump located inside the fuel tank and are actually submerged in the fuel. The fuel pump is an electric motor that spins at a high rate of speed. Spinning mechanical parts create heat and need lubrication, which is why the pump is at the bottom of the fuel tank completely covered with fuel.

The fuel pump is always spinning as long as the engine is running, which makes it more important not to run low on gas. When your fuel gauge reads below ¼ of a tank, the fuel pump is starting to be exposed to air inside the tank, instead of the cool fuel.

If you put your hands together and rub them back and forth as fast as you can, you will create heat, when you stop, it will take a few minutes for them to cool down. However, if you put them under water they cool down immediately. Maybe not a great analogy, but I think you get the idea.

Overheating fuel pumps is the number one cause of failure. The cost of replacing a fuel pump on most cars is roughly $600 to $1000 and some cost even more.

What Should I Do?

The best thing you can do for your vehicle is fill it up when it gets to a quarter tank. It will save you money in the long run and keep your car running well. Sure…it doesn’t have the same challenge as driving on fumes, but when it comes to your vehicle, it is always wise to consider damage control…both to your car and your wallet!

Certified Auto Specialists: the friendlier and more helpful auto shop! Feel free to call 626-963-0814 with any questions, and we will be glad to help, or visit our website at

Hometown Service You Can Count On!