Improving fuel economy is one of the main concerns for every driver. Did you know that even without investing in some modification you can do a lot, today, to save some considerable amount of money. This week we tried to find the answers to this important topic and in order to provide you with most comprehensive information on how to save money we reached out to industry’s leading experts and manufacturers.
What did we find out? Keep on reading and you’ll find out!
You can improve your MPG!
While no one really expects from a truck or a pickup truck to have a great fuel economy that could compete with those of a car, we still have our limitations at what is tolerable consumption for this type of vehicles. In this kind of economy and especially since average price per gallon of gas is now almost $4, no one wants to work whole month just to pay gasoline charges.
Some would say „hey, then walk more and drive less“, but that is not the option that some people could take with their jobs depending on it. Others, like us, here at NeoTrucks, just love to drive our pets… It’s a beautiful feeling, cruising the roads listening to the powerful engines. When warm weather finally comes for real, rolling that window and feeling the air is as close to the perfection as when your favorite team is leading against its biggest rival or some other non-sports comparison that I am too lazy to think of.
Of course, a lot can be done just by shopping smart and choosing a vehicle that has the best MPG. We obsessively tried to find the best answer, as you might have already read here and here. U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency also has a big section on their website dedicated only to detailed look at each vehicle’s fuel consumption. But we are also aware that those choices might not be the ones that you like. To be fair, those are some really decent vehicles, but just by looking at our facebook page we can see that there are always heated discussions about favorite brands.
On the other side, even if you chose the truck with the best MPG, which is the spot reserved for the Toyota Tacoma 2WD for the last two years, did you know that that number can be improved even more?
Excessive speeds will cost you more!
This advice not only increases fuel economy, but also overall safety, too. On this link, Environmental Protection Agency claims that after 50 miles per hour line, fuel consumption starts increasing drastically emptying your gas tank faster. In fact, so much that driving around 50 mph can save you from 7-14%. Of course, vehicles reach optimum fuel economy at different speeds so this number can vary, but staying close to it is definitely a smarter thing to do.
When we reached EPA through fueleconomy.gov to single out the most important advice out of many other on this page, that drivers should follow, they responded with this particular tip:
„Driving style is probably the biggest factor in both city and highway driving. Aggressive driving can seriously impact your fuel economy and if you are looking to improve your overall fuel economy, learning how to drive more efficiently is probably the best place to start. Speed is particularly important during highway driving as fuel consumption increases rapidly for most vehicles at speeds over 50 miles per hour as shown on the fuel economy by speed graph on the web page above.“
We have contacted Ram Trucks representatives to hear how they advise their customers about this subject, and Nick Cappa seams to agree with this being one of the most important things to do:
„The biggest impact a person can make on improving fuel economy is slow starts and reduced highway speeds.“Nick Cappa, Ram Trucks
At the time of publishing this article average price of gas in the US was $3.542, which would then mean that by following this suggestion you can save from $0.25-$0.50 per gallon. Although, we are not exactly sure how safe it is to drive 50 mile per hour on a highway.
Smooth acceleration and smooth braking
Closely connected to the previous tip is another one regarding your driving style. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking and you should save considerable fuel. Sudden increases of speed while driving are also not recommended if you want to be economical. Experts advise use of cruise control since it will maintain the same speed, but you should also use overdrive gears – engine will work less and thus consume small amounts of gas.
Aggressive driving also makes impact on your vehicle, wearing some of the components such as brakes, tires, etc. EPA says fuel economy benefit from driving more calmly is from 5-33% which is currently from $0.18 to $1.17 per gallon.
The less your vehicle is idling, the better
Back in the day you had to warm the engine of a car and leave it idling for some time before starting your trip, but those days are long gone and today’s vehicles do not need to go through this procedure.
This can save from 3-4% of gas (from $0.10-$0.15 per gallon depending on how long vehicle idles) and a lot of clean air too. Some experts are advising turning your engines off when you know you will have to idle in one place for more than 30 seconds, but that results in increase of starter wear – so don’t do it too often.
Less stopping only means more moving!
As a matter of fact, instead of idling try to plan your trips so that you don’t have to make stops at all! This includes both bathroom breaks and congested routes. Although many people hate planning and worrying about every little detail of their trip, this one is a must since it may keep money in your pockets. Warmed-up engines work more efficiently and offer better miles per gallon rating.
Fix and modify your vehicle!
You can do simple, little things to your truck, pickup truck, van or SUV and improve your fuel economy significantly. For example, keeping your tires properly inflated to the tire pressure can reduce regular fuel use by 3-4%. Less air in tires increases rolling resistance and in turn engine will have to work more for vehicle to cross the same distance, while at the same time they will also wear more.
Engine should be regularly checked and tuned, the same goes for fluid levels, alignment of wheels, etc. You should consult the Owner’s Manual for proper maintenance procedures, but also for the viscosity grade recommended for the ECII oils.
On top of these usual tasks, you can modify your car for better fuel economy. If you drive a pickup adding tonneau cover (either partial of full) will increase aerodynamics of a truck, but if you want to invest even more you can install aeroshell/fastback bed covers which are even more effective.
If you are interested in modifying your vehicle then you can find a lot of great ideas here.
We have asked Darin Cosgrove, co-founder of the EcoModder website what he thinks is the most important tip for increasing fuel economy and this is what he says:
„We always say that the most important fuel-saving modification you can make to any vehicle is to add fuel economy instrumentation (if your vehicle doesn’t already have an instant & resettable average display).
It has been said before: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Timely feedback is critical for adjusting the “nut behind the wheel”, as well as evaluating further changes you may make to your vehicle. Manually calculating fuel economy at fill-up time is good, but that slow rate of feedback isn’t as useful as a digital display.“
Darin Cosgrov, co-founder of the EcoModder
By using such device you can see what works best for your vehicle and try to improve it by changes on vehicle, during driving, etc.
Air conditioning dilemma
There are so many different theories regarding the use of air conditioner and rolling windows down. They were so popular that even Discover Channel’s Mythbusters cover the question in one of their episodes.
What they determined on the famous show is also what Nissan is advising their customers, as Phil Lienert from Nissan told us:
Air conditioner operation lowers fuel economy. Use the air conditioner only when necessary
When Cruising at highway speeds, it is more economical to use the air conditioner and leave the windows closed to reduce drag.Phil Lienart from Nissan cited Nissan’s Owners Manual
Their colleagues from Ford tend to agree, claiming that decreasing usage of the AC when temperatures are above 80 degrees can help you save 10-15% of fuel ($0.35-$0.5 per gallon). Yeah, parking in the shade now seams as even better idea.
No, we are not talking about another modification technique, it is far simpler than that. You should remove all unnecessary baggage prior to the driving. All those things you have in the back and you are too lazy to move to the proper storing place are actually costing you money! We can be certain that you have something in the back of your car, truck, SUV that is sitting there for a long time, but you don’t need it for your road trip. While you are at it, you should remove stuff from the roof rack, or even roof rack with it.
Again, the principle is easy to understand: the more stuff you have in your vehicle, the heavier it gets making engine work more to move that ride and while at it gas guzzling like a monster truck! It is estimated that fuel consumption is increased by 1-2% for every 100lbs of unneeded weight.
Of course, don’t get too obsessed with these advice, you don’t have to sacrifice too much. You don’t need to shave your door handles and make different body for your vehicle. You don’t have to sweat in extreme heat, and please don’t drive your vehicle 50 miles per hour on a highway. Apply as much as you think you can and rest assured your wallet will start to notice!
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