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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR FUEL ECONOMY -
The Ultimate Fuel Economy Guide:
(the most comprehensive guide on the
Fuel Economy Central !
Looking for the
best overall FREE information on getting the most Miles Per Gallon (maximum MPG)
with any vehicle?
You've finally found it!
Whether you need to save fuel in your RV, car or truck, it's covered right
There are more than 80 different ideas listed here to improve fuel economy.
So if you don't find a new idea or information
to save you money, you're a rare exception.
This guide is
"complete" but still under construction: If you have additional suggestions, please let
us know. E-mail to
Fuel Economy Ideas.
Fuel prices have broken all-time record highs,
and many magazine and internet articles
offer tips to
economy. While most of them are helpful, we've found that they're incomplete and lack
important details that can save you big money.
Surprisingly, most of them overlook at least two of the easiest changes you can make
to produce big improvements in your MPG!
That's why we've worked hard at Ultimate-Synthetic-Oil.com
to create the most complete Ultimate resource available: to help you save
fuel in your car, truck, RV, boat, motorcycle, or fleet.
We've broken this into two
major categories - driving habits, and vehicle maintenance/repair/upgrades
(including aftermarket parts). There's a lot of information here which
we have improved more than 15 times (current Revision # and date are posted
at the bottom of this article). We suggest that you BookMark this page so
that you can easily return and continue
reading. And you might have some friends that would appreciate you sending a
Anticipate, coast, and use your brakes less. Look far down the road ahead, even if
"far" means half a city block. Get into position for turn-lanes
smoothly and early so that you don't have to accelerate to get in front of traffic.
Anticipate stops or slow-downs ahead and take your foot off the gas: try
to coast much more than you brake. Keeping more distance to the
car in front of you will help.
See a long train at the RR crossing ahead? Get your foot off the
gas immediately. You can idle forward in Drive for a long way
(without braking), for ~30% less fuel than sitting in Drive, and nearly
the same fuel use as sitting in Park.
Remember: any additional distance you
coast will save fuel and extend your brake-pad life.
Don't accelerate quickly.
Remember that the guy who leaves the stoplight the quickest also pays
more at the pump. Accelerating at about 1/4 throttle will be
slower than you're used to, but it saves a lot of fuel. Whether
you're driving an automatic or manual, this will tend to shift up to
higher gears at slower speeds, turning fewer engine revolutions.
Minimize idling, and idle
Engines only need 10 to 30 seconds for warm-up, and idling your engine
for more than a minute typically costs more fuel than re-starting it. So
avoid the drive-thru lines at the bank and the fast-food shop: instead
of sitting in line, park and
go inside. BUT, when you must idle with an automatic transmission,
put the transmission in Neutral or Park while you're waiting: this will
cut your fuel usage at idle by 15-35% depending on the vehicle. If
you have a manual transmission, don't use the clutch to keep from
rolling back - use the brake. This will save fuel and extend your
Use Cruise Control.
It's proven to save fuel. But here's a secret... it's not just for cruising. Using the "Resume" button on your
cruise control can be a handy compromise to provide reasonable
acceleration times that don't irritate drivers behind you, without
Overdrive and gear
selection. If you have an automatic with Overdrive, use the
Overdrive. If you have a manual transmission, shift early to keep
engine rpm's lower and be sure to use the highest gear for highway
As you increase speed above 60 mph, wind resistance starts increasing
dramatically as a percentage of total fuel consumption. Estimates
are that every mile over 60 mph costs you 1% in fuel economy. In
other words, when you speed, you're paying more at the gas pump.
Watch your tire choice.
Replacing your tires/wheels with wider and/or taller ones may look
awesome, but keep in mind that your choice could have a 1 to 3% penalty in
fuel economy... or even more in extreme cases like "monster truck"
Carefully consider your
route and the time of day: traffic flow is a huge factor.
For example, see the picture to the right. Those vehicle-following-distances are typical of traffic in many large cities.
If this highway traffic is stop-and-go, fuel economy will be bad.
On the other extreme, if the traffic is moving smoothly and fast (at 60
- 80 mph), then your fuel economy is going to be superb: those rushing
vehicles create a jet-stream of air which dramatically reduces your
wind-drag losses - 10 to 30% improvements are possible. For maximum fuel economy, follow a larger
vehicle and use your cruise control (just bump speed up/down 1 mph to
adjust). Also, keep in mind the wind direction: if there's a
strong wind blowing in from the right, and you drive in the right lane,
you get no break in wind resistance.
Plan and Combine errands to make
fewer trips. Think like your great-grandparents did.
Plan meals and grocery shop once a week or twice a month; just make a
list of other errands during the week, plan your route, and do it all on
the same day. Dropping off the kids at practice? Arrange
with other parents to carpool or to pick them up for you.
Such planning may seem like work at first, but it will give you more
free time, help you relax, and can improve your average fuel economy by
5 to 15%. It can also cut your average weekly mileage by 20% or
more. Total dollar potential: save 10-35% of monthly fuel costs.
How does this help fuel economy? During the first several miles while warming up,
the engine and transmission are not operating at full efficiency.
This is why city fuel economy can drop dramatically in cold weather,
when it can take 10 miles for the transmission to warm up.
Automatic transmissions in particular can be huge power hogs when fluid is cold
(hot/cold temperatures are one of many reasons to use a full-synthetic
100,000-mile transmission fluid - see more on this below), and manual transmissions
can feel like you're shifting in molasses. Combining two or three trips into one will not only reduce the miles you
drive, but will get you better fuel economy on the way.
Drive first to your
furthest destination of the day. When running errands, driving
to your farthest point first will warm up your vehicle's engine and
transmission most quickly, which allows it to operate with more
efficiency during the rest of your stops.
Clear off the snow and
ice. Snow and ice buildup costs you fuel in two important
ways: it increases your vehicle's wind resistance, and it adds a lot of
Use an engine block
heater. When your engine warms up more quickly, it gets
efficient more quickly. But "idling" your engine is an expensive
way to warm it up in the winter. Instead, have an engine block
heater installed and plug it into a hardware-store timer.
Depending on the engine temperature, 1 to 3 hours on the timer will give
you an optimal boost for your fuel economy.
Use air conditioning
wisely. In city driving, it's cheaper to use the vents
and/or roll the windows down. But at highway speeds, it's a
different story: rolling the windows down will cost you more fuel than
using the air conditioner. In addition, try to remember to shut
off the A/C before you get to your destination. These factors can affect fuel economy
by ~ 1-5%.
Drive in style - tint your
windows. Window tinting offers both privacy and "coolness", by
reducing the load on your Air Conditioner. It also extends the
life of your interior by lowering the interior's temperature when
sitting in full sun, as well as by blocking UV rays. Just be
careful to select tinting that isn't darker than what's legally allowed.
Close passenger air vents.
If your vehicle is a commuter rather than a family car, you don't need
to be cooling your entire car interior - just you.
Buy fuel wisely.
Ok, this isn't actually improving your fuel economy, but there are
several things to save money on: Filling up on Tuesday afternoon
or Wednesday morning will normally save you money: those are typically
the lowest prices of the week. Also, filling up in the morning
when the fuel pump is cooler will get you a few extra cents of fuel. So
your best time to fill up is - on average - Wednesday morning.
Don't "top off" your tank: you risk losing fuel to the station's
vapor-recovery system, giving them back some of what you're paying for.
And speaking of that vapor-recovery system, some fuel refinery employees
have reported that you'll also get slightly more fuel in your tank by filling
up with the gas handle on the SLOW setting so that you don't create as
high a fume content while filling the tank... but that may be "splitting
molecules" with a benefit so small that it's a waste of time.
Use a good fuel additive.
Injectors with excessive deposits have poor spray patterns that can cost
you 2 to 15% in fuel economy. Those deposits are caused by poor
quality fuel. Since '95 the EPA has required all gasoline to have
deposit-control additives. But as fuel quality control
capabilities have improved over the years, average fuel quality has
dropped steadily. Now about half of all fuel on the market is Lowest
Additive Concentration (LAC) gasoline, which barely
meets the regulation and contributes to excessive deposits. What
can you do? First, if your vehicle is designed for premium gas,
and you use premium, your injectors may be fine: many premium fuels
include much higher additive levels that are effective at keeping
injectors clean. However, what if you don't use premium? Use
"Top Tier" detergent gas if you can find it, because this new class of
fuel meets the 2004 GM/Honda/Toyota/BMW deposit control standard.
Shell states that all their gas grades meet the Top Tier standard.
If you don't need to pay for premium and Top Tier isn't available, you
probably need an additive. BEWARE: there are a lot of mousey fuel additive products
in ads and on store shelves that generate ridiculous sales profits but don't do much for
Find a good one that will clean your injectors, keep them clean, and
(for diesels) lubricate your
The following fuel additives are some of the real
products that do the job with quality, at low prices (follow the links
for details). We know and use ALL of these products personally:
PI Performance Improver Gasoline Additive is designed to
clean and maintain a gasoline vehicle's entire fuel system and engine
combustion components by dissolving
and removing deposits and contaminants, and reducing friction in moving
parts. Naturally, that produces improvements in both higher fuel economy
and lower emissions. This particular product has been reformulated
with latest technologies, to be the most effective and yet one of the
most inexpensive products on the market. Add a bottle every 4,000
A similar fuel situation exists for diesel fuel, but
true premium-grade diesel is non-existent or hard to find in most areas.
Further, because ULSD can otherwise cut the life of fuel injectors and
fuel pumps in half, Federal regulations require gas stations to add (for the first
time) performance additives to the new Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), but most
gas station and truck-stop employees seem to know nothing about this requirement. This means that
the performance and life of your diesel engine and fuel injection system will benefit
greatly from good additives:
Diesel Concentrate Performance Fuel Additive (one ounce
of concentrate treats 5 gallons) is very effective in diesel
engines to clean injectors, lubricate (critical protection against fuel pump and
injector wear with the new ULSD fuel), reduce emissions and black smoke, and improve power & fuel economy. It
extends engine oil life, prevents fuel/water mixing and protects
metals against rusting, and is also safe for the latest exhaust emission
systems such as diesel particulate filters (DPFs), meeting all Federal
EPA requirements for Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel. Diesel fuel
treated with this Diesel Concentrate easily meets the requirements of
the National Council of Weights and Measures (NCWM) Premium Diesel Fuel
Specification for resisting diesel fuel degradation. This product
is also recommended as the ideal additive for Heating Oil Fuel.
Cetane Boost Diesel Fuel Additive (all diesel engines)
also increases power and efficiency by increasing Cetane number (the
equivalent of Octane in gasoline).
Diesel Cold Flow Improver is formulated with jet-fuel-type
deicers to lower cold-flow-pour-point properties of ULSD diesel
fuel as much as 34° F (18° C). Add this before each fill-up, to prevent
wax & ice crystal formations from blocking your fuel filter in cold
weather. This product works even better on biodiesel blends than
on full petroleum.
An explanation will help:
The wax-crystal "cloud point" of some diesel fuels is as
high as 40° F (4° C), and about 32° F is typical, meaning that when you pump it out of the underground tank
into your vehicle in cold weather, it can start to plug up your fuel filter within an
hour or less. (I found this out the hard way this winter: before
adding this, the overnight temperature dropped to 26°F, and stuck me in
my driveway for 2 hrs while I warmed up the engine with my block heater,
and used a heat-gun on my fuel filter. Not anymore!)
Lose some weight!
Reduce your vehicle's weight: clean out the trunk (and maybe the back seat).
Summer snow-chains and tools from that weekend project two months ago is
costing you fuel! For every 200 pounds in your trunk, it costs you
roughly 1 mpg.
Don't drive! Carpool, occasionally ride
a bicycle or walk, telecommute for part of your work-week, or take
Shift your work-hours to
avoid gridlock. Stop-and-go traffic is hard on fuel economy.
Try to arrange traveling to/from work when traffic flow is running
smoothly at the speed limit.
Park in the Shade:
The hotter the fuel tank gets, the more gas you lose to evaporation?
Technically true, but most of your savings will come from the air
conditioner not having to work as long to cool off your car's interior.
If you crack your your windows a bit and use a sunshade in the front
windshield, you'll not only sweat less, but you'll save money from your
A/C not having to work as hard.
Smart vacation thinking:
If your vehicle is a gas guzzler, consider renting an economical vehicle
to drive on vacation. With a discounted week-long rate at better
fuel economy, the rental might pay for itself. If you lease your
vehicle, using a rental vehicle will also lower your total lease miles.
Keep a log of your mileage
and fuel. I've done this for years, first in vehicle expense
record books, and later with an excellent program in my Palm PDA called
Highway Manager that I've used for more than 5 years. One
advantage is that you can monitor your fuel economy and driving habits.
Not only can you learn the cost benefits of changing your driving style,
but you can spot the poor fuel economy that is often a first-alert to
maintenance issues. In addition, as you make changes to improve
fuel economy, you can measure the exact results (averaged over a few
fill-ups for better accuracy).
Use your Fuel Economy
display. One of the advantages to some of the most successful
hybrids - like the Prius - is that they prominently display the
instantaneous fuel economy. Many drivers have noted that this
results in developing more frugal and sedate driving habits. If
your vehicle doesn't have this feature, you can add one, like ScanGauge.
MAINTENANCE & UPGRADES.
These areas often get skipped in recommendations on getting better fuel
economy, and that's unfortunate because they can have huge impacts.
In fact, that's why I'm providing this list - so that you can learn
about these missing areas.
These all fall into two
general ways to improve fuel economy:
- decrease friction in the
vehicle's drivetrain (engine, transmission, differential, wheel
- make it easier for air to flow through the engine,
anywhere between the air intake and the exhaust tailpipe.
These are the same areas that performance-enthusiasts
improve to get more horsepower. I recently spoke with a Lexus
mechanic who owns a Dodge 2500 pickup with the
engine. He was quite surprised that with his many thousands of
dollars of horsepower upgrades, even running large tires and higher
ground-clearance, he was getting about 23 mpg. "Every time I
increased the power, the fuel economy improved." No surprise to
me: except for the tires, he was also increasing his engine's efficiency
with nearly every power upgrade.
Keep your engine tuned up.
If you have a dashboard service-engine light on, you're typically
wasting fuel: for example, bad Oxygen Sensors are a classic problem that
can cost you 5-15% in fuel economy. Overall, poor engine tuning
and lack of maintenance will often decrease fuel economy by 10-20%, and
it can be even worse in some cases.
Inflate your tires to
their optimum: HIGHER pressures than "normal".
Besides improving fuel economy, this will improve
handling, increase safety, and increase tire life. Under-inflated
tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in
pressure of all four tires.
Over 90% of car tires on the road
are under-inflated, and this costs money in both fuel and in shortened
tire life. "Experts" generally define the
"proper" pressure as the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation,
and that's what most service shops try to follow. Who can blame
them when even the government says to follow inflation pressures on the
vehicle's OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) door sticker?
Unfortunately, that's seldom correct. OEM wheel/tire
combinations for most passenger cars and light trucks are designed by
the tire manufacturer for
even tread pressure on the ground when inflated to between 35 and 42 psi
[pounds per square inch]: far more than the recommended 28 to 33 psi
that you'll find in many owner's manuals or on door-jamb labels.
If your tires normally wear the tread off the shoulder before the center
of the tire, you can be certain that your tires are
Vehicle manufacturers like to get the cushy ride quality by using under-inflated tires, rather than
by using more expensive shocks, springs and suspension designs.
What YOU need is even road-contact pressure across the tread, because
that gives you maximum tire life, better fuel economy, best performance
in bad weather, and best overall handling and cornering characteristics.
If you look closely on many tires, you'll see a reference to 35 psi and
a maximum pressure of 44 psi. So as long as you don't put more
than 44 psi in your tires, you're fine.
So how much air pressure should you use? How do you figure it out?
First of all, buy a digital pressure gauge - there are a lot of them for
$8-20, typically accurate to a half psi or less. Or, you can use a
mechanical-type gauge if it has a LARGE round dial. These bourdon-tube
gauges are capable of good accuracy, but check the packaging to see how
accurately it's calibrated. Whatever you do, DON'T use a straight
"stick" air pressure gauge. Inconsistent and inaccurate,
typically read 2 to 10 psi higher than actual pressure, meaning your
tires will always be under-inflated by at least that amount!
Next, inflate your front tires to about 40 psi and your rear tires to
about 38 psi. (Most vehicles are heavier in the front than in the
rear. If yours isn't, maybe from stuff you haul in the truck-bed
or trunk, then use the same pressure in all four tires.) Then
watch how your tires wear. The ultimate is to buy a simple tire
tread depth-gauge (max $6), and use it to check tread depth in the
center, and near each "shoulder" of the tire (near the inside and
outside edges). If your tires wear more quickly on the edges,
increase your air pressure by 1 or 2 psi. If they wear more
quickly in the center, then
decrease the air pressure by 1 or 2 psi. Most tires like to be in
the 38-40 psi range, but if you put a wider tire on a stock-width rim,
you'll normally have to drop the air pressure to compensate and get an
even pressure "pad" across the tread.
Results? By our conservative estimates, most passenger vehicles are riding
on tires that are 8 psi low. (That 20% difference can decrease
tire life by an estimated 30% per the Technical Maintenance Council.) So
overall, bumping your tire pressure up to the optimum
will likely give you a 3% increase in fuel economy, depending on
your vehicle, tires, and current air pressure. You'll also get
longer tire life. Be sure to
check/adjust your tire pressure monthly, increase tire pressure
temporarily when you're carrying loads, and rotate your tires twice a
year or every 10,000 miles.
For more complete details, visit this
excellent article on proper tire care.
Switch to best-quality
synthetic oils and filters throughout your drivetrain: engine oil, transmission
fluid, differential gear oil and wheel bearing grease.
This advice - to use the best synthetic lubricants - is drastically neglected, yet
it's an EASY area to save a lot of money because it's just replacing
petroleum with high-performance synthetics. However, it's
not a simple area to understand, so here's a brief primer on synthetic
lubricants. Why do you need real high-performance synthetics? Because in every way they are better than
petroleum products - by design - and because they are
uniquely able to save you the
maximum amount of money with 25,000 and even 35,000 mile drain intervals,
while other "synthetics" are designed to maximize
petroleum-oil-company profits by pulling money out of YOUR pocket.
The number of vehicle owners turning to synthetic
engine oil has increased dramatically, which is very good news for
consumers because synthetics are better than petroleum products in every
way, BY DESIGN.
But consumers don't realize THREE KEY THINGS:
First, that the benefits of synthetics extend to every lubrication
area in the vehicle, including ball-joint grease. For example, most
differentials and transmissions fail because
their fluid has failed, either because the fluid hasn't
been changed frequently enough, or because the fluid overheated in
towing. Synthetic transmission fluid helps hugely to prevent problems,
and naturally saves fuel at the same time. My '94 Taurus SHO got 10% better car fuel economy
with engine oil and transmission fluid change, my '02 Sierra 2500HD Duramax got 8%
better truck fuel economy with just synthetic engine and differential
fluids, and a
friend's '99 Olds Silhouette van picked up 20% just by changing to
synthetic engine oil - saving over $600/yr in
fuel. See other
In other words, for most vehicles, real synthetic lubricants are
one of the biggest and easiest improvements that you can make to improve
fuel economy - yet they are rarely mentioned!!! We've found that most people will get 2 to 12% improvements in fuel economy,
IF they use AMSOIL lubricants, but less to no improvement with other
brands. (No infomercial here - just
facts with integrity.)
Fleet testing results with AMSOIL oils and fluids in commercial vehicles shows an
average 8.2% improvement in fuel economy. And
8% fuel savings is also the most frequent report from our customers.
not all "synthetics" are REAL synthetics. Today,
in fact, most are fake synthetics because the lubrication industry has agreed that
it's OK to deceive you. (Here's
to tell a true synthetic from a petroleum "synthetic".)
Third, not all real synthetics are the same. As a Mechanical
Engineer who has worked for years in automotive, and done extensive
research (about me), AMSOIL is my extremely
strong recommendation. Why AMSOIL? AMSOIL was the First in Synthetics in every
lubrication area, they are normally the cheapest to use, they are
designed for maximum performance and benefit to you (most lubricants are
NOT), they are the most widely used in professional racing & performance
companies, and they continue to lead the world in synthetic lubrication -
usually by a
WIDE margin. (Notice the chart to the right which compares the
wear rate of the only 35,000 mile oil in the world against the
competition.) Hundreds of 4-ball Wear Test results in independent
laboratories have proven over the years that AMSOIL lubricants are
designed to consistently reduce wear (friction) to a far greater extent than
even most synthetic lubricants. This wear-reduction is friction
reduction that translates directly to
better fuel economy, and longer-lasting vehicles. But it's only one
portion of the fuel economy improvements -
here's a more involved explanation.
REAL Results! I've often heard people say they wouldn't
consider a different oil because their big-name (inferior) petroleum oil
let them put 200,000 to 300,000 miles on an old vehicle with 3,000 mile oil
changes. That's whimpy "kid stuff" compared to using AMSOIL: the cost of that
petroleum oil maintenance
is much higher than the 25,000 mile oil changes we recommend, and in comparison it's not unusual
for AMSOIL-equipped vehicles to exceed 500,000 miles on the original
engine and transmission (no internal engine or tranny work, just
service-interval maintenance on plugs, belts, hoses, etc). More
and more fleet managers are discovering that
fleets money. The
fact is that AMSOIL's 25,000 mile/1-year and 35,000 mile/1-year
oils (proven and guaranteed) and 100,000 mile transmission and
differential fluids mean that
it's less expensive to use AMSOIL products than to use anything
Real life! My '94 Taurus SHO got 10%
better fuel economy with engine oil and transmission fluid change, my
'02 Sierra 2500HD Duramax truck got 8% better fuel economy with just
synthetic engine and differential fluids, an engineer friend (a DFSS
certified Six Sigma Greenbelt) tracked an 8% improvement in his Dodge
Magnum using Minitab, an acquaintance picked up over
20% on a 37 foot gas-engine motor-home, and my friend Phillip's 1999
Olds Silhouette van picked up 20% just by changing to synthetic engine
oil -- saving him over $600/yr in fuel.
Want proof? You
want data from respected independent testing laboratories?
Ahh –- so you know marketing claims are worthless! How about the
pictures and report from a certified Lubrizol engine rater, on the
teardown of the
original engine from the million mile van? We also have overall
comparative testing data for many specific oil blends, including Mobil
1: ASTM testing by independent laboratories. While all the oil
companies run these tests because they're required by the API and SAE, generally only AMSOIL publishes
significant data, while the others rely on vague performance claims and
clever marketing slogans. Beware: test results against generic
"competitor A, B, C" are legally meaningless and tell you
nothing. But published/advertised
test data against named products is legally binding, with huge lawsuit
potential from competitors. Yet AMSOIL has been publishing the data for
three decades, naming the
actual big-name products tested, and not one
competitor has ever challenged the data accuracy!
See overall comparative
testing results against many specific oil brands, or
compare AMSOIL to
Mobil 1. Remember, these impressive results aren't just fancy
advertising charts: they're test data from standardized (tightly
defined) tests by independent laboratories.
Few companies will show legally-binding data based on standardized test
parameters like this, because independent testing on their products will
not produce favorable data to support their product claims. In
comparison, hundreds of ASTM 4-ball Wear Test results in independent
laboratories over years have shown that AMSOIL lubricants are
consistently designed to reduce frictional wear and internal
fluid-friction losses to a greater extent than even most synthetic
lubricants. Friction reduction translates directly to better fuel
economy and much longer-lasting vehicles.
So how do you switch to AMSOIL lubricants and
ultra-long-life filters? It's easy.
You can order products online and have them in a few days, then take
them to almost any oil-change facility like a quick-lube or Wal-Mart
auto center for installation. See
converting to AMSOIL and
FAQ's for more
details, and e-mail us at
Questions Switching To AMSOIL if we can help in any way.
Improve airflow AROUND
- Keep your windows rolled up at speeds over 40 mph: you'll feel a
lot of air turbulence around the window, and the
air-conditioning is probably cheaper than the fuel-economy penalty in additional
- Turn off the air and roll down the windows at speeds under 40 mph in
the summer heat: the additional wind-drag is cheaper than the
- Consider adding a truck bed cover, either
soft-type or hardshell: they can give you a 1 to 2 mpg boost. What
about dropping your tailgate to travel, or buying an "air gate" net or
louvered tailgate to replace the stock part? Those are not as
reliable - results depend on the vehicle aerodynamics, bed length, and
the size and shape of what you do (or don't) have in the truck bed.
- Reduce air turbulence
under your vehicle: "Off-road" packages
which include protective underbody "skid plate" features, or "ground
effects" styling packages can help enough to add 1-5% in fuel economy.
The downside is that these can make the vehicle more difficult to work
- Adding an air deflector to the roof of your vehicle when towing will
also add 1 to 3 mpg, but keep in mind that it will also reduce your
non-towing fuel economy by about the same amount if it's still on the vehicle
when you're NOT towing. (These air deflectors improve fuel economy
by helping to "kick" the air up over the trailer, reducing the trailer's
- Loaded roof racks or cargo pods can cut 5% or more off
your fuel economy. Fill the trunk first. A cargo rack that slides into a trailer hitch allows
you to carry extra stuff, still get into your trunk, and use less fuel.
- Sunroof air-deflectors can be handy, but they do cost you a bit of
money. Removing the air deflector might save 1/4 to 3/4% in fuel
Improve airflow into the
engine. This can happen in several stages of increasing
complexity, but the first place is the air filter, where air
enters your engine. If your filter is dirty, that reduces fuel
economy - up to 10% in the worst cases. However, there's a conflicting problem.
Conventional filters should NOT be replaced before the OEM's recommended
interval or they will increase your engine wear rate: they rely on the
"dust cake" buildup to achieve effective filtration, which can reduce fuel
Easy: Here's an easy "no-brainer" improvement:
Replace your air filter with nanofiber filters born from
military/aerospace technology. (Released in 2005 with worldwide
patents, reasonably priced, with a huge percentage of applications
covered and still growing.) You get pressure drop nearly as low as
an oiled gauze filter while filtering out 100% of wear particles down to
3 microns (for real). Clean with an annual tap/shake/vacuum. No
Click here for more info.
AMSOIL is the ONLY company offering nanofiber filters for
and light trucks.
Here are the
Universal Ea nanofiber filter cones to replace the oiled gauze cone filters in most
of the aftermarket
air intake systems such as K&N, S&B, Volant, TrueFlow, Injen, AFE & AIRAID. The Ea cone
filters provide equal or higher flow, with Absolute Efficiency at 2
Notice the inverted cone in the ends of these filters, which
provides additional airflow over the common original solid-end-cap
Intermediate: The next thing
to look at is the air-filter box design. Many OEM's have a restrictive
flow-path going into the air-box (to reduce engine air-intake noise by
some small amount, or to reduce the likelihood of sucking water if you
drive through a foot or two of water), with lots of internal stiffener
ribs. Sure, the improved
strength from stiffening ribs may enable you to stand or kneel on the airbox, but they often cause pressure-drop and turbulence.
Also, the tube that runs from the airbox to the turbo or induction
manifold tends to be smaller diameter and/or have sharper bends that
cause a pressure drop.
There are two
improvement routes: an aftermarket air-induction system, or a DIY
Some DIY tips on further improving airflow:
The best route is to look at replacing the entire air-intake box, filter,
and MAF tube (going from the air box to the engine) with an aftermarket "air intake" kit. Caution:
single-layer oiled gauze filters
won't keep out
many wear particles, and so produce higher engine
wear-rates than OEM filters, plus their oil can cause reduced fuel economy and trouble with warranty coverage at many
dealers by contaminating the MAF sensor wire. Multi-layered oiled
gauze filters are an improvement, but you still have the oil, and
the wash & dry and re-oiling steps that must be done carefully. So choose wisely.
We recommend going for the
nanofiber solution if AMSOIL has one available for your vehicle, because
nanofiber air filters are the BEST compromise between
no filter at all and a restrictive stock filter, and they completely
eliminate the use of oil. Most of the
panel-style direct-replacement Ea nanofiber air filters have OEM
Most aftermarket air intake systems include a round conical filter,
meaning they are an excellent choice if Amsoil has a nanofiber
replacement filter to fit these systems - and they generally do.
Check available cone-filter dimensions here.
air intakes with nanofiber filters can be found here.
At the bare minimum, your
choice of intake should include a two-stage dual-density oiled-foam filter,
which removes far more dust than most oiled-gauze filters. If you can't get at least that in an aftermarket air induction system, then we recommend
skipping it: upgrade to a nanofiber air filter, and consider modifying the stock airbox as
we outline next.
(CAUTION. The following ideas may require careful thought and
planning, and results will depend on the actual vehicle & air intake
design, the quality of the plan, and the skill in executing the plan.
In some vehicles, the most restrictive part is the air intake box and
filter, while in other vehicles the air tube running from the filter to
the engine is the most restrictive part. If you don't upgrade the
most restrictive portion, you will see little (if any) fuel economy
increase. Furthermore, poor-quality modifications can cause problems not covered
under vehicle warranty. Note that in cases of stop & go traffic on
blacktop in hot weather with no wind, some engines may tend to overheat
more easily with some of these changes, if the intake air temperature is
hotter than before the modifications. So these areas are best
left for engineers or thoughtful mechanics, and we're NOT responsible for your
The air passage into the air-filter box is often much smaller in
cross-sectional area than the air filter surface, creating extra
pressure-drop. Many cars have a skinny "cold air intake"
muffler, tube or baffle, often hidden in a wheel-well, which are also
designed to keep the engine slightly quieter. These can be removed
or modified for better airflow into the airbox. Some vehicles have
replacement aftermarket "cold air intake" tubes that are available to
maximize airflow while retaining the cold air intake function (cold air
gives better fuel economy and helps prevent overheating when idling in
hot weather). These replacement tubes are generally a good idea,
but will generally produce only a small fuel economy improvement by
themselves - zero to 3%.
Want to take it a step further?
A Dremel moto tool with
a straight drill-like routing bit (kits for $60 or less at
Wal-Mart) will allow you to easily enlarge or cut open several windows in the airbox to increase airflow
- it's best to open up the front and the side away from the engine, as those
directions will normally pull in the coolest air.
Cautions: NEVER add holes
the engine side of the filter, or the air will bypass the filter!!
And again, in some cases this option can increase the likelihood
of engine overheating when idling in hot temperatures, so consider
A hot-air gun
is a quick, handy way to soften the internal baffles so that you can
fold them down, maintaining more strength than simply removing them
(it's OK to do that on the engine side of the airbox, too). It can
also help you smooth a radius into the airbox outlet without removing
too much material: the larger the radius, the better the flow. (Caution:
be very careful and thoughtful when making any changes to the engine
side of the air filter. If any cracks or holes should develop down
the road, your engine will be sucking in unfiltered air, causing a high
Those easy, intermediate-level and advanced airflow improvements can
realistically net you up to a maximum 8% improvement in fuel economy
under towing conditions,
but 2-4% improvements are typical. Beyond that, you can start looking at adding or
upgrading a turbo or supercharger, or increasing the size of the air-to-air
intercooler and piping...
Improve airflow out
of the engine: Install an aftermarket exhaust system. These
have larger diameter pipes and larger, less restrictive mufflers. My
point isn't to get louder, but to reduce "backpressure" losses which cut
down on horsepower, torque and fuel-economy. Since increased noise is
typical, and some systems are intentionally designed to be loud, you may
want to shop for the exhaust sounds you do or don't want.
Borla is my personal
high-quality favorite, because they tastefully design for great
improvement without being overly loud.
Keep in mind that on turbo-charged engines, anything you do to improve
flow (reduce backpressure) through the exhaust system will pay rewards
in increased turbo pressure, faster spool-up, and of course, better fuel
economy. So if a larger down-pipe out of the turbo is an available
take it: that's a useful upgrade that is sometimes overlooked.
Watch your transmission
modes. Use overdrive when possible. Don't use 4-wheel drive
when you don't need it. And when buying a new vehicle, consider
your driving conditions and habits: if 4WD is important to you, you
might want to consider AWD (All Wheel Drive) options for improved safety
and automatic fuel-economy management of the drive system.
Upgrade to a more
fuel-efficient vehicle. But be cautious. Everyone wants to make money from your
vehicle change, so be sure to look out for your best interests.
There are several ways to do this. First, beware of sticker price.
Second, compare the fuel economy of different engine and transmission
combinations. In some cases a larger engine actually gets better
fuel economy. But spending a lot more money to get more fuel economy may not begin to pay
you back before you sell the vehicle. Hint: hybrids are getting "hot" in
the market, but they are often not worth the money. One reason is
initial cost penalty, another is unrealistic fuel-economy claims, and
another is high replacement costs for the big battery packs that these
vehicles use to store and transfer energy. If that 56 mpg turns
out to really be 41 mpg as a recent long-term test did in the '05 Toyota Prius vehicle (Car
and Driver magazine), and you spent $6k more than an equivalent
non-hybrid, and you're faced with a $2,300 battery replacement bill
after 3 years and you only keep it for 4 or 5 years... well, the 36 mpg
standard vehicle was a better deal.
For many people, the smartest purchase is probably a modern
turbo-diesel vehicle. Here are a few of the diesel advantages: the
initial cost penalty of the diesel is similar to a hybrid, but you
have no battery replacement costs; the REAL fuel economy is about as
good as the average hybrid and gets better over the first 100,000 miles;
it produces less overall environmental impact than many hybrids; mileage
life is 300,000 to 500,000 (or double that if using AMSOIL lubrication
and filtration); maintenance costs are lower (no spark plugs, no
tune-ups, not restricted to dealer mechanics); diesel fuel is more flexible and secure in supply than
gasoline because of the heavy commercial use and the fast growth in
bio-diesel fuel (which has no
environmental downside); and it retains higher resale value.
See our diesel page.
Diesel fuel prices remain artificially higher than gasoline, in what may
be a coordinated effort to boost "big-oil" profit margins to their
astronomical highs, and delay diesel growth in the US until the
Big-Three OEMs and the oil companies are ready to handle the shift from
gas to diesel that overwhelmed the European market. If this scenario is
accurate, then diesel fuel prices may eventually be coming back down
into a legitimate price range.
Back to comparing the '06
Toyota Prius and '06 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, their base price is about
$300 different and their weight is within 300 lb, interior and trunk
room are nearly matched, and 0-60 mph acceleration is within one second
of each other. But the Jetta turbodiesel got 47 mpg in real
driving, vs the Prius with 41 mpg, and the diesel engine will almost
certainly provide greater reliability, durability, mileage life, and
resale value. And as many
long-term diesel owners know, the mpg of the diesel is going to
eventually IMPROVE another few mpg once the break-in phenomena is
complete. Volkswagen turbodiesels typically increase to 50-60 mpg
somewhere in the 75,000 to 125,000 mile range - which is right in the
neighborhood of the claimed mpg of the hybrids - which seldom
seem to live up to their EPA press releases.
But in all fairness to the
hybrids, there are a few more considerations. First, hybrid
technologies are the target of heavy investments: they are improving
rapidly. (One of the more promising directions is hybrids using small turbo-diesel engines.) Second, there are great
differences in performance and maintenance costs from one hybrid to
another. For example, hybrids often show a large drop-off in
winter fuel economy under certain conditions, partly for some of the
same reasons that standard gas or diesel-engine vehicles drop off in
fuel economy, but the battery power storage is an additional factor:
battery efficiency drops WAY off in cold weather. Finally, driving
habits appear to play at least as large a factor in hybrid fuel economy
as in conventional vehicles. For example, a
10 mile Phoenix city commute vs. 2 mile Boston city commute, vs. a 30
mile Atlanta highway commute, vs. a 20 mile rural commute on state
highways, will all show very different fuel economy
pictures. Bottom line is this: if you want an accurate estimate of
what YOU would get with a specific hybrid vehicle, you need to find an
owner of that exact vehicle who drives under circumstances similar to
Rudolf Diesel introduced his engine at
the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, running on peanut oil. For
several years diesel
engines ran on vegetable oils alone, getting an average
of 30 percent more miles per gallon than traditional combustion
engines. Soon they became the standard powerplant for trucks,
buses, freight-haulers and boats. Then the oil-drilling companies developed
a plan to take over the diesel fuel market.
GMC/Chevrolet turbo-diesel pickups are all
excellent choices that out-tow the gas engines, get 20-40% better fuel
economy than the gas engines (15/22 mpg is a realistic city/highway
achievement for some of the newest 3/4 ton diesels, which also get 13-17
mpg when towing), and meet very stringent emissions
regulations. That's why 60% of those "heavy-duty" pickup sales are now diesel. (If
you're a pickup truck owner, consider installing an
AMSOIL Remote Bypass Filter system with synthetic oil to pick up
5-10% more fuel economy, and then stop changing engine oil. Just change
filters every 25,000 miles/1-year when you send an oil sample to a lab for analysis!)
In 2005 the diesel car choices
were the Volkswagen Jetta, Jetta Wagon, Passat, Golf, and Beetle, the
Jeep Liberty CRD, and the 224 hp Mercedes E320 CDI sedan
which was driven 100,000 miles in May 2005 by a round-the-clock team with no breakdowns and an average
speed over 139 mph. Only a few cars, but with the new
ultra-low-sulfur diesel laws starting in late 2006, the selection is quickly
broadening in the 2008 - 2010 model years, as manufacturers can now bring the best diesel engine
designs from the European market into the U.S.
Diesel power and
performance? The latest diesels have a real edge over gasoline
engines, and some of the hottest sports cars in Europe are
now turbo-diesel tire-burners, where over half the vehicles on the road are
diesel! Diesels are winning land speed records and drag races. In
addition, diesels won or placed so highly in so many prominent European
road-races in 2006 and 2007, that race officials are devising new
diesel-only restrictions to "level out" the playing field to give
gasoline race engines a chance. Drivers are learning that acceleration
is really based on torque, not horsepower, and pound for pound it's
getting hard to out-torque a modern turbo-diesel.
Finally, be cautious in
your search for improved fuel economy: don't waste
your money on fake
fuel-economy "improvements". Many products are either
total fakes or
hugely exaggerated. Most companies tiptoe around the truth, but we
don’t. So here it is.
- If it's an "oil additive" or engine "metal treatment" it's generally a
worthless product embroiled in lawsuits in a number of states, and if an
oil additive claims a fuel economy improvement over 1%, you can bet that it's either lying or
it's damaging to your engine. Lubrication
engineers will tell you that oil blend is a highly engineered chemical
package, and that if you want better performance the only way to get it
is to buy a better oil in the first place, based on the test data
criteria that you're most concerned about – that's also the cheapest
- Fuel treatments/additives and catalysts? There are some gains
available here, especially if your vehicle has had a long diet of cheap
LAC (Lowest Additive Concentration) fuel. (See #11 above for more
info.) The biggest fuel economy factor is the injector spray
pattern: a smooth one from clean injectors will be good fuel economy,
while an uneven pattern from dirty injectors will produce poor fuel
One key question to consider is
cost vs value. The answer is Yes to some good fuel additives, No to
some poor ones, and "why bother" to a lot of them. Fraud
and deception are rampant.
For example, in 2007 we were approached about offering a fuel additive
that was gaining many excited customers. Ultimate ME2 was designed by an Asian chemical
engineer and is produced by an Asian company to supposedly change the fuel's molecular hydrocarbon chain
structure for more efficient combustion... possible, but a claim that's
conveniently difficult to check. We suspected
that it actually worked by just cleaning the injectors and engine, in
which case it would not give any fuel economy benefit in vehicles with
very clean fuel systems and combustion chambers. So, to test our
theory, we used the
Ultimate ME2 additive for about two months in two vehicles (one Ford
car, one GM diesel pickup truck) that had already been running efficiently using
the inexpensive high-quality fuel additives we listed above, and saw
no measurable improvements even after following the suggested
"disconnect the battery" procedure to let the vehicle computer reset. Yet the
wholesale price on a
bottle of Ultimate ME2 was a stunning $39 USD! We'll give them the
benefit of the doubt that the product improves fuel economy in vehicles
with dirty injectors and valves, but our tests appeared to confirm our
original suspicions. Sure, fuel prices are high enough that a
10-15% improvement will more than pay for that $39 bottle. But we
would rather get better fuel economy using a high-performance $6 or $9
product, than to spend $39. Wouldn't you?
So beware what you buy:
research it well.
- Fundamentally, if a mechanical or
electronic aftermarket product isn't
improving airflow through the engine/exhaust, it's probably NOT going to
boost fuel economy. Some examples of "improvements" that WON'T
save you fuel: airflow swirling devices (the air will naturally swirl
anyway, and most of these devices actually create a flow
restriction - additional pressure loss in the air intake, which reduces
fuel economy slightly); computer
"chips" or "tuners" - while a few can give you a
fuel-economy boost (perhaps 1/4 mpg in a stock vehicle, more if modified
or towing), they are generally designed to add more power by using more
fuel. They certainly add horsepower and torque, but they will do
little or nothing to change engine breathing characteristics by
themselves. Some will swear that such systems have improved their
fuel economy, but on close questioning, you may discover that they made another change or two at the same
time (like a tune-up, air-intake or exhaust upgrade) - the things that ACTUALLY
produced the improvement.
An exception is that some of the engine tuner devices for turbodiesel
trucks may provide a few percent increase in fuel economy when towing,
depending on conditions, trailer, the year & model truck, and other
performance modifications that have already been made.
Federal Trade Commission
Diesel Owners Forum
Commercial and Fleet Savings with Amsoil (pdf in new window)
Gasoline Engine Fleet Case Study
Controlled Class 8 semi
testing shows 8% fuel economy improvement
You're reading the
Ultimate Fuel Economy Guide
Revision (Version): 17
Last Revised: May 24, 2009
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AMSOIL is the undisputed leader in
synthetic lubes and filters......
Since 1972, AMSOIL Synthetic
drivetrain LUBRICANTS have repeatedly tested as the
highest performance engine oils, greases, transmission fluids, and hydraulic and differential
gear oils on the market.
But we now have
nanofiber filtration technology
filters, air filters, fuel and hydraulic filters. AMSOIL
offers the highest performance, most cost-effective, most comprehensive filter line on
earth, covering all your vehicle filter maintenance. Consider air and oil ...
Until now, Nanofiber filtration technology has been used
exclusively in medical, aerospace and heavy duty applications, including the
US ARMY Abrams M1 tank. AMSOIL Ea Filters are the first and only
filter line to bring this technology to vehicle maintenance in the auto/light truck
oil filters provide unmatched full-flow filtering efficiency to 98.7 percent
at 15 microns, and 50 percent at 7 microns. This translates to a 70%
reduction in engine wear rates, while giving longer filter life and lower
pressure drop for better cold-start performance: the only vehicle filter
technology that gives you the best performance in every category!
Additionally, consider engine oil bypass filtration systems for
commercial and fleet applications in cars and light, medium and heavy trucks
which can filter wear particles down to less than one micron and are 89% efficient
at 1 micron, making oil changes virtually unnecessary and virtually eliminating engine wear.
The MOST IMPORTANT filter on the M1A1 Abrams
battle tank is its' nanofiber air filter.
The MOST Important filter on YOUR vehicle is also the engine air
It's far better, and easier, to keep wear particles out of
an engine than it is to attempt filtering them out of the motor oil. Yet
filter companies and vehicle manufacturer's are strangely silent about actual
air filter performance and engine needs. World-leading breakthrough
filters with exclusive nanofiber technology are based on battlefield-proven
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for your vehicle fleet - regardless of size! These filters
flow like oiled gauze filters and yet are 100% efficient at removing particles of 3 microns, and 80% effective
at 1 micron. This means NO WEAR PARTICLES
CAN GET PAST OUR Ea AIR FILTERS, reducing wear rates by 70% over most OEM
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We have the full line of
Donaldson Filters Now Available ,
including air, fuel, water, oil and hydraulic filters, with exclusive performance warranties
that no one else offers. Contact us for specific
recommendations, or see our
AMSOIL offers a growing line of the only OEM
certified air induction filtration systems on the market. Offering
dramatic airflow improvements for gains in horsepower, fuel economy, and towing
torque, they also keep wear particles out of your engine better than any
marketed product. Current air inductions systems include the
High-performance GM, Dodge & Ford
air-intakes are here for both gas and diesel engines!! In addition, we have a full line of
nanofiber Universal air induction filters (EaAU)
designed to replace stock oil wetted gauze or foam conical
filters that were supplied with custom induction systems
produced by K&N, Injen, S&B, Green, AIRAID, AFE, TrueFlow
and more. Whether your air induction system is in a gasoline
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filters that offer far better efficiency, 50 times the capacity, excellent airflow and are easily cleanable.
Got a Hummer H2 or H3? How about a newer Ford
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or PowerStroke, at
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LUBRICATION AND FILTRATION TECHNOLOGIES?
products saves you time and money.
With recommended extended drain intervals, superior AMSOIL performance typically costs LESS per
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The only 25,000 mile/one-year and 35,000
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only oils and filters with a warranty for GUARANTEED performance!
Exceeds the most stringent performance
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Provides up to
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mileage life of your vehicle.
Increases at-wheel horsepower.
Lowers transmission and differential operating temperatures and delivers
better shifting, even in heavy towing.
Lowers fleet maintenance costs by lowering the costs of both scheduled
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Lowers fleet capital costs by dramatically extending vehicle service-life.
(Vehicle mileage typically extended 20 to 100%.)
Diesel oil and filtration products designed to
deliver more than 1,000,000 miles for over-the-road trucks before engine overhaul.
Used by many national racing teams, fleets,
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WHY WORK WITH DMT TECHNICAL?
DMT Technical operates Ultimate-Synthetic-Oil.com as part of a group of highly skilled team of
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internet, as well as the largest AND fastest-growing AMSOIL Dealer organization
in the nation. You too, can join our group
when you become an AMSOIL
Dealer and take advantage of all that we offer, as you use products in your own
vehicles or begin your own AMSOIL business. You cannot find a more knowledgeable
and skilled group of Dealers anywhere.
We possess the skills, desire and knowledge to answer questions about
your fleet or vehicle maintenance. We can help you solve problems,
improve efficiency and fuel economy, reduce downtime, lower operational and maintenance costs, and increase the
durability and life of all of your vehicles.
Read what our satisfied customers
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