Radiators and Gas Mileage

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man


Bob,
I recently had my car's radiator professionally cleaned. It cost about $150. I've been noticing that I get better gas mileage now. Would a clogged radiator cause my car to use more gas?
Polly

Polly,
First, I think that $150 for a "Cleaning" is a bit steep! You can get a new one for that amount... but as to your question, can cleaning your radiator increase your fuel economy, well actually yes! But only by 1 or 2 miles per gallon.

You see on newer cars, everything is controlled by the computer. One of the inputs is actually coolant temperature and the computer actually makes the car run richer if it sees a cool engine. Now, the only way (at this moment, it is kinda early on Sunday morning) I can see is that the temperature sensor was "dirty" and reading low. But it would have to be reading way low not just by 10 or so degrees. The only other thing is that your radiator was soooo dirty that the engine was running way too hot. The overheating situation will also cause you to use more fuel. You didn't tell me what kind of car you are taking about or how much fuel economy increase you realized, but I would go out on a limb and say that it is a 90's car and you only saw about 2 or 3 miles per gallon difference.

One thing to think about, have your driving habits changed? Everyone says "NO", but really think about it. Do you use the same fuel? Have you noticed this difference in more than just one tank full of gas? Let me know, I am interested in this. Here is a note to all of the readers that is thinking about getting a new car. This is NOT an advertisement but just something to think about. IF you are considering getting a 96 Ford Taurus, then get it with the FFV option. If is free and this enables you to run Flexible Fuels. That is what the FFV stands for, Flexible Fuel Vehicle.

What this means, is that the car is capable of running on gasoline to E- 85 (or M-85). E-85, what is that? That is a mixture of 85% denatured ethanol and gasoline. This fuel is popular in the mid-west. But on the east coast and California, there are other inventors that are developing fuels that are similar in nature, but need a car capable of running this fuel. The special thing about this fuel is that it is somewhere around 60% continually renewable. The other 40% (actually I think the numbers are more like 75% renewable and 25% not) are made for chemicals that are results of other processes that are just thrown away. So if you happen to be in the market for a new car, and are considering the Ford Taurus (for the truck lovers, GM is releasing an S-10 pickup with this option as well), then ask for the FFV option. IT'S FREE (for now)!
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man


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