If you're like me, when gas prices skyrocket, sometimes you're left thinking "maybe i could take the bus”. Then you come to your senses, fill up the tank and walk away, telling yourself that there must be ways to make a full tank go better.
Fortunately, there is. The combination of green driving habits, maintenance, and some additional awesome mods can help you increase your fuel economy.
What mods increase gas mileage?
There are some changes you can make to your car to improve fuel economy. Some of them are simple and cheap, while others are a bit more complicated. It's important to consider how much of a difference they will actually make if fuel economy is the only reason to upgrade.
Our first tweak is about rethinking the way your car navigates through the environment. Obviously, if you have a big steel and plastic plate going 90 km/h, you want it to do it with as little effort as possible.
If you're using roof racks or a roof rack, it would make sense to remove them when you're not using them to keep vehicle drag down. This, along with a few other reasonably simple body mods (eg fender flares and antenna removal) can help you get those extra miles per gallon.
There is one end of the scale where you can choose to swap out the bumper bars and mirrors for a more aerodynamic option. But then again, this is getting a bit more serious and it depends on what you are looking for in your car.
Consider your tire choice
While not a new or crazy modification, tires play a big role in your vehicle's fuel economy. Opting for tires with lower rolling resistance can help.
There are a few things to consider here:
- Your preferred tire brand, size, budget, and what you are using the car for.
- If you have a 4×4 that you use off-road, you will need to try to find the lowest rolling resistance tires while still meeting your off-road needs.
- In addition to the correct tires for your needs, maintaining the correct air pressure in your tires plays an important role in helping your car ride with as little resistance as possible.
Chances are, unless you're drilling a hole in the ground and using pedal power (Fred Flintstone style), your car will have some sort of electrical system. Over time, things wear out. This includes any wiring and ground terminals. When connections are damaged or loose, this can create resistance.
It may not sound like a big deal, but as resistance increases, all electrical components have to work harder. From your air conditioner to your sound system, everything is grounded through some type of common ground point. Keeping this clean and safe can help increase your vehicle's fuel efficiency for a small cost.
One of the easiest inexpensive modifications is to swap your oils for more diluted alternatives. Using synthetic oil in your differential and gearbox can help reduce friction between gears. This internal leads to less energy being absorbed through heat. In addition, these oils can also help extend the life of parts. Although synthetic oils are a more expensive option, they tend to last longer than other regular oils.
Unbuckle your belt
While less common in cars now, some newer cars and most older cars use belts to drive things like water pumps and radiator cooling fans. The motor uses its own power or energy to drive a pulley that would drive these items.
Eliminating the need to run them on the engine's own power and converting them from mechanically driven to electric is a great way to decrease stress on the engine.
Not one of the most affordable mods, but for die-hard "HYPER-MILERS", converting belt-driven items to electric is a must. Combine that with our latest grounding mod and you're on your way to saving real money.
Keep up with maintenance
Another easy and affordable way to increase those gallons is to properly maintain what you already have. Regular maintenance can help maintain and improve fuel economy. If your car is overdue for a tune-up, replacing worn spark plugs and checking that the engine is timed correctly are great starting points.
Daily service items can play a significant role in the amount of stress your engine must endure to do its job. Let's say you have a partially blocked air filter, from all the dirt and whatever else ends up in there. The engine then has to work harder to draw air through the filter, through the throttle body (or carb) and into the head where the combustion process takes place.
The same can be said about maintaining fuel filters, for the same reason as an air filter. If your filter is blocked and doesn't allow all the fuel to get through to the engine, it will make it much more difficult to keep things running.
So making sure your car is regularly serviced and serviced will help you go the extra mile when it comes to fuel economy.
It may seem counterintuitive, but mods that increase horsepower don't necessarily use more gas. Anything to do with making your engine breathe easier can really help with fuel economy, as long as you're not constantly "enjoying" the extra power with your foot on the ground.
Depending on how efficient your vehicle is from the factory, aftermarket intakes, exhausts, high flow cats and headers can help extract more MPG.
Athens in ECU
Near the end of our list is another relatively easy modification that can be done. There are several companies that offer plug and play or custom tunes for a variety of cars.
Although they do get a power boost with these tunes, many recommend more overall economy when in use. Again, another not-so-cheap mod, but depending on how much fuel you save, it might be for you.
Many cars are tuned to perform reasonably well both at idle and in freeway traffic. Leaning them when there is no real stress on the engine can drastically improve fuel economy.
Use the useful functions of your vehicle
While not necessarily a mod, some newer cars offer an engine start/stop feature. When the vehicle is stopped with the clutch disengaged, the engine is shut down to reduce idle time. When the clutch is depressed, the engine restarts.
As stated, this isn't exactly a mod itself, but if your car has this option and you're not using it, you could be losing out on fuel economy.
Mods that won't help -Demystifying myths
We've all heard some pretty creative ways to increase fuel economy and it's safe to say that you might not believe everything you read online. Here's some bullshit we hear:
There are some products that use magnets to try and get more for your money when it comes to fuel economy. These products claim to use magnets to break and align fuel molecules, leading to better, smoother combustion.
Do they work?... No, they don't. Last time I checked there are no magnetic materials in your fuel, at least there shouldn't be. If so, you have far more important concerns than fuel economy!
Acetone is most commonly used in chemistry and around the home as a paint stripping solvent. On the other hand, some people think that adding it to the fuel tank will slow the burn rate, resulting in a cleaner, more efficient burn cycle.
After some very quick and minor research, we found that adding acetone to your fuel tank does... nothing.
Driving habits to save gas
In addition to any of these modifications, you can also save fuel simply by changing the way you drive.
Here is a list of good driving habits to help increase fuel economy:
Maintain a stable and constant speed.
Accelerating, braking, and then accelerating again is a surefire way to waste fuel. Try to keep some distance between you and the car in front of you so you don't have to make sudden movements. Keep in mind the fact that every time you slow down, you need to use gas to accelerate.
Use your gears wisely
If you're driving a manual, don't hold it in the higher rev ranges to change gears. Shift up and down through the earlier, smoother gear.
Avoid any excessive idling in your car
Idling uses more fuel than turning the engine off and restarting it, hence the start/stop feature on some newer cars now. It's also bad for the environment if you care about it.
Whenever possible, you should try to use cruise control.
Engaging cruise control is a great way to help with our first tip and keep your drive steady and steady. After a long journey, this can be tiring and lose concentration. Your cruise control will do a decent job of maintaining a constant speed, especially on flat ground.
Trying some (or all) of these mods and habits with a bit of trial and error will likely get you burning more miles on your regular tank of fuel. In addition to using the modifications we've mentioned here, you may want to consider a hybrid or all-electric car the next time you're looking for a new vehicle on the market to take your fuel economy to the next level. Or maybe the price of fuel will go down and stay there, that would be great too.