How To Increase Fuel Economy - Fuel Saving Tips - Sport Truck Magazine (2023)

sport truck staffWriterEduardo A. SanchezWriter

There are some unavoidable truths in life. Death, taxes, and the fact that your big truck can never compete with a Prius for mileage. But if you feel like you're doomed to 8 to 12 mpg for the rest of your vehicle's life, there's still hope. We've come up with some basic steps any truck owner can take to earn a few extra miles per gallon.

1. Oil and synthetic viscosity
Chances are, if you're a sport truck enthusiast, you pay more attention to your ride than most vehicle owners. Proper maintenance is the key to achieving overall vehicle efficiency. Along with regular oil changes (every 3,000 to 5,000 miles), switching to a lower viscosity oil during the winter months (and throughout the year) can increase efficiency and reduce pumping losses in the engine. Switching from a coarse 20W50 to a finer 5W30 will make a noticeable difference in responsiveness. Unless you tow or haul frequently, higher viscosity oils are not necessary. For most light truck uses, 10W30 should be a good compromise, but check your owner's manual for factory recommendations.

(Video) Testing Fuel Economy Hacks

In extremely cold climates, it makes sense to use a 0W30 or 0W40 oil to speed up oil flow in subzero conditions. Synthetics tend to have superior lubricity and greater temperature resistance than conventional petroleum-based oils. The only major disadvantage is the significantly higher cost, usually twice as much as conventional oil of equivalent viscosity.

2. Transmission and Differential Efficiency
While proper engine maintenance is fairly common knowledge, the often overlooked areas that can significantly contribute to your vehicle's efficiency are the transmission and differential. With older vehicles, it's a good idea to change the transmission fluid or transmission oil in manual transmissions at 30,000-mile intervals or more frequently in severe conditions. It is also advisable to change the rear differential oil at the same interval. With many newer vehicles, transmissions have lifetime service intervals on the transmission (usually 100,000 miles).

While the quality of lubricants and the tolerances of factory mechanical systems have improved dramatically in recent years, it probably wouldn't hurt to change these fluids every 50,000 miles.

3. Proper tire pressure
Tire pressure can have a significant effect on vehicle efficiency. Underinflated tires can provide a smoother ride, but they also increase rolling resistance. Tires should be inflated to the manufacturer's specifications and on the high side of these recommendations for maximum efficiency. The ideal is to consult the owner's manual and the documentation that comes with the tires. Inflating tires to the maximum psi indicated on the sidewall can be dangerous and increase tire wear.

To get accurate tire pressure readings, check the tires when they are cold, as driving heats the air inside the tires and effectively increases the pressure reading. Check tire pressure before going on a long trip, and always check it before towing or carrying heavy loads. In extremely hot conditions, check the pressure periodically to ensure that the tires are not inflated to the maximum safe level.

(Video) Driving Tips For MPG

4. Performance admission systems
If intake performance gains are so easy, you might wonder, why don't they come equipped with them from the factory? Consider the overriding "NVH" development mantra that manufacturers work under today. Noise, vibration and harshness are the main evils pointed out by most new vehicle engineers. Performance is often sacrificed in the quest to provide the quietest, smoothest vehicle for the customer.

While most readers probably enjoy the wholesome noise of an open intake under the whip, manufacturers assume that 90% of the public find this noise offensive, so they throttle the intake tract in the name of suppressing NVH. . Since the engine has to overcome these restrictions when inhaling, this often reduces the engine's overall efficiency.

5. Performance hoods
The reason vehicles are not equipped with performance exhausts from the factory follows the same logic as the intakes. The mass market wants their ride to be quiet and smooth, but most hot-blooded enthusiasts prefer to hear the melodious baritone of a finely tuned V-8 bubbling through a free-flowing exhaust system.

(Video) Does a Higher Octane Fuel Give You Better MPG?

There are many different systems on the market that employ different construction techniques and engineering philosophies. Most factory mufflers are "chamber" types, routing the exhaust through several chambers before sending it down the tailpipe. A more fluid variation of this design has been perfected by several aftermarket manufacturers and provides a throaty sound that has made it a favorite of many enthusiasts.

Many performance silencers also employ a straightforward design. Basically, the muffler is a straight section of perforated tubing surrounded by a sound-attenuating gasket. This design is suitable for vehicles equipped with a supercharger or turbocharger because it reduces back pressure and lowers exhaust temperatures. Most of the best systems on the market have been dynamometer tested to deliver higher performance in the most frequently used rpm ranges.

6. Premium fuel
It is well known that high octane gasoline increases fuel efficiency. However, from a dollar's perspective, the numbers may not justify filling in the "bull test". Premium fuel can cost upwards of 20 cents per gallon over 87 octane. On a 30 gallon tank it's $6. If you fill it weekly it's $24 a month. It probably won't be the difference between paying rent or sleeping in the back of your truck, but it's enough for two large pizzas. Unless your owner's manual specifies premium fuel or your vehicle is equipped with a turbocharger or supercharger, you really don't need premium fuel.

7. Lubricant improvers
This crowded segment is littered with competing claims and different manufacturers running various "rolling" tests and pouring sand into the oil filler cap. Some of the more cynical industry sages call them modern day snake oils. While you're unlikely to see an additional 3-5 mpg just by pouring a booster bottle of lube, none of this is likely to harm your engine. Costing $20 to $30 per bottle, you can try different products for best results. However, do not mix lubricant enhancers. Wait until the next oil change to put in a new booster. Be careful not to exceed the engine crankcase oil capacity when adding a booster. An overfilled crankcase can lead to foaming and improper oil collection, which will do far more harm than any benefit you might get from a boost.

Featured product for sport trucks
Fitch Fuel Catalyst

With fuel costs skyrocketing, many sport truck enthusiasts are struggling to find ways to improve their trucks' fuel economy. Those of us blessed with SUVs (especially supercharged ones) tend to be the most desperate. Large engines with large fuel tanks often consume $80 or more of high-octane fuel. In our search for ways to improve fuel economy, we came across the Fitch Fuel Catalyst, made by Advanced Power Systems International, founded by veteran race car champion John Fitch. The fuel catalytic converter claims to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy by treating the fuel in the tank. Fuel treatment keeps gasoline cool to improve combustion. In turn, the engine runs more efficiently, which improves fuel economy. APS representatives would not disclose which components make up their catalytic converter and recommended that we test a set on our '95Chevrolet Suburbano.

At first we were reluctant to put a few "magic crackers" in our truck's fuel tank, but we figured we had nothing to lose. Following the instructions, we installed several catalyst pellets in our fuel tank. The number of pellets will depend on the size of the tank. APS also recommends factory resetting the computer by disconnecting the negative battery terminal and reconnecting it after a few minutes. We were also skeptical of claims that we would only improve our fuel economy by 1.5 to 2 mpg, but to our surprise, we ended up getting a 2.5 mpg improvement.

Our test started by measuring the combined average fuel consumption on highways and cities. Over the course of a month, we averaged 13.3 mpg. After installing Fitch Fuel Catalyst, we drove the vehicle for another four weeks and took an average. The result was an average of 15.8 mpg. Considering our tester has over 85,000 miles on a 7.4L TBI engine, the results were worth the $119 price tag.

According to APS, the catalytic converter will last the life of the vehicle and will not clog any fuel pumps or any part of the fuel system. Fitch Catalyst is also available online for vehicles that do not allow the use of pellets in the tank.

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8. Driving style
Even if you take all these steps to improve your vehicle's economy, nothing will use more gas than a foot of lead. Of course, we all like to indulge the urge to get bigger every now and then, but even a miserHonda CivicIt can drop below 20 mpg under heavy, unforgiving underpinnings. On flat roads, there should be little need to rev the engine well above 2000 rpm during normal driving, especially with truck engines that usually have torque.

On the road, engage overdrive on automatics unless towing or hauling, and shift to overdrive on manuals. Cruise control is an effective economy tool on flat roads, but it can really improve fuel economy on hills. Above all, use common sense, and you could save money.

9. Tonneau and Caravan Coverages
Pickup trucks have inherently poor aerodynamic characteristics. This is partly due to the open buckets and tailgate, which cause a lot of turbulence and therefore drag. However, contrary to popular belief, recent studies have shown that simply lowering the tailgate increases drag.

Unless you're hauling daily, a tonneau cover can be a good investment. Not only does it clean up your truck's styling, it also eliminates much of the aerodynamic drag associated with a truck. If you haul frequently but still want to increase the efficiency that a tonneau provides, several companies offer retractable quilts.

Caravans no longer carry the "grandpa's fishing tackle" stigma they used to. The first shells appeared to have been constructed from scrap metal from the Winnebago factory, using elegant fiberglass slabs with a ribbed wood texture. Newer models are contoured, have built-in glass, are available in the most popular colors or can be painted to match your vehicle. In addition to offering a large, secure cargo area, the best-designed models also reduce drag.

10. Engine programmers
Most later model full-size domestic trucks have many aftermarket options available to improve performance and efficiency. These plug-in controllers allow the owner to adjust spark timing, injector pulse width, speedometer calibration, and a variety of other variables to improve overall efficiency. Please note that certain configurations require the use of premium fuel.

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The last word
By following these 10 simple steps, your truck will run more efficiently and absorb fuel instead of gobbling it up. Of all the things we've talked about, power electronic programmers are the easiest semi-permanent power and mileage modification you can make. Almost everyone on the market comes with increased mileage, but there are so many available that it's hard to figure out what your options are. Don't be afraid! Following this story is a developer guide that will tell you what they do and where to get them. All you have to do is decide which one is best for your specific application.


How can I increase my truck fuel economy? ›

Stop Idling

You can keep the engine running if it's a short light. Whenever possible, avoid drive-throughs and instead park your truck and go inside to pick up your food. You'll be done a lot faster and save on gas. Turn off the engine when the traffic is not moving to achieve better gas mileage.

What mods increase mpg on trucks? ›

Because trucks are so fuel-inefficient, many drivers outfit their rigs with cold air intakes, modified computers, vortex systems, and free flow exhausts. These modifications can indeed improve your gas mileage.

How can I increase my gas mileage by 70 percent? ›

Here's what to do:
  1. Never drive above 45 mph. Yes, this includes highways. ...
  2. Remove passenger side mirror. ...
  3. Avoid braking and rapid acceleration. ...
  4. Turn off engine at red lights. ...
  5. Windows up/AC off. ...
  6. Try to stay relaxed. ...
  7. Legally draft when possible. ...
  8. Overinflate tires by 10 percent.
Jun 13, 2013

Do truck Toppers increase mpg? ›

Without the topper fitted, the truck managed 18.16 MPG. What's more, even when it's on the truck, the aerodynamic benefits seem to outweigh the extra weight. When Andre put the topper back on and ran the loop again, the truck managed 18.26 MPG.

What mods increase mpg? ›

What Modifications Can You Make to Improve MPG?
  • Fuel Economy Monitor. If you don't know what your fuel consumption and MPG is, how on earth can you make any changes? ...
  • Eco-Friendly Tyres. ...
  • Synthetic Oils. ...
  • Aerodynamic Body Mods. ...
  • Weight Saving Parts. ...
  • Go Automatic. ...
  • ECU Tune/Remap.
Jul 20, 2022

How can I make my truck last 300000 miles? ›

The key to making your vehicle last 300,000 miles or more is regular maintenance. That means changing your oil at the recommended intervals and following the manufacturer's maintenance schedule. It's all there in that extremely valuable but underutilized piece of literature in your glove box.


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