Maximizing Fuel Efficiency on Your Next Road Trip with a Clean Car.

Maximizing Fuel Efficiency on Your Next Road Trip with a Clean Car

Mud vs. MPG: The Nitty-Gritty on Gas Mileage

With road trip season right around the corner, courageous explorers across the country will soon start gearing up for their next cross-country adventure.

You may be an all-star at packing the car or have a knack for making the snacks, but things like how much gas your vehicle uses are out of your hands, right? Or might there be something you can do to help maximize your fuel efficiency on your next road trip?

Fuel Efficiency 101

Your fuel efficiency basically compares how far you travel to how much gasoline you burn. This is generally measured in miles per gallon (mpg).

During your regular driving in the city, traffic and traffic lights constantly force you to slow down and speed up or even stop and idle while you burn fuel. On a road trip, all the smooth, unbroken highway driving can push your fuel consumption already higher than you’re used to. You can push it even higher by keeping your car clean.

The Clean Car Effect

The contoured frame of your car was designed to let its build move as smoothly as possible through the collection of gases in the low earth atmosphere.

It might seem trivial at first, but as your car slices through the wind, air molecules can get momentarily stuck on protruding pieces of dirt on its surface and have to find their way out like blind mice in a maze. Enough pinballing molecules at enough speed can whip up some serious friction.

One of the best studies of this clean car effect was done by a TV show, “MythBusters.” The myth was that, similar to how a dimpled golf ball is more aerodynamic than a smooth one, a dirty car would cut through air better than a clean one.

After running a series of experiments, the “MythBusters” team successfully busted that myth, finding that a car caked in mud to the max averages about two fewer miles per gallon than a perfectly clean car.

Remember this as you watch dirt, dead bugs and other sticky random flotsam and jetsam build up on the outside of your car during your road trip. Understanding that a completely covered car will lose you about two miles per gallon, you can keep a running calculation in the back of your mind comparing its cleanliness to its estimated fuel efficiency loss. Once the loss gets to be a bit too much for you, make a beeline for your nearest Quick Quack car wash.

If You Don't Have a Dog

If you love dogs but don’t actually have a four-legged friend to call your own, you can still enjoy a great day out with a shelter pup. Most shelters now offer doggie day-out programs that allow people to spend a day with a dog who’s awaiting adoption. Spending all day cooped up in a kennel hoping to be adopted is not a lot of fun, but a few hours with you could remind a shelter dog of happier times and give him or her a new lease on life.

The Squeak Factor

Besides the air resistance, any highway goo that builds up on your tires can reduce the friction between them and the road and make your vehicle even less fuel efficient. Make sure your car wash leaves the tires squeaky clean.


Before you pack up and take off, check out our unlimited car wash membership that you can use at any of our car cleaning locations. It comes with a bonus Wax to Seal finish that will fill in any surface nicks to keep your car’s contours smooth and its miles per gallon high.