Filling up at the pump is...
Filling up at the pump is becoming a nightmare once again. However, you don't have to give up performance to gain fuel economy. In fact, when done correctly, you can add performance and improve mpg at the same time.
There are some inevitable truths in life. Death, taxes, and the fact that your fullsize pickup will never be able to rival a Prius for mileage. But if you feel you are doomed to 8 to 12 mpg for the rest of your vehicle's life, there is hope yet. We've come up with some basic steps that any truck owner can follow to eke out a few extra miles per gallon.
1. Oil Viscosity and Synthetics
Chances are if you're a sport truck enthusiast, you probably lavish more attention on your ride than most vehicle owners. Proper maintenance is 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 year-round) can increase efficiency and reduce the pumping losses in the engine. Switching from a thick 20W50 to thinner 5W30 will make a noticeable difference in responsiveness. Unless you do frequent towing or hauling, the thicker-viscosity oils are not necessary. For most light truck use, 10W30 should be a good compromise, but consult your owner's manual for factory recommendations.
In extremely cold climates, it makes sense to go to a 0W30 or 0W40 oil to expedite oil flow in subfreezing conditions. Synthetics tend to have superior lubrication and temperature breakdown resistance to conventional petroleum-based oils. The only major downside is the significantly steeper cost, generally twice as much as equivalent-viscosity conventional oil.
2. Transmission and Differential Efficiency
Though proper engine maintenance is fairly common knowledge, often-overlooked areas that can significantly contribute to the efficiency of your vehicle are the transmission and differential. With older vehicles, it's a good idea to change the transmission fluid or gear oil on manual transmissions at 30,000-mile intervals, or more frequently under demanding conditions. It's also advisable to change the rear differential oil at the same interval. With many newer vehicles, the transmissions have lifetime service intervals on the transmission (generally 100,000 miles).
Fuel-Saving Tip Keeping your...
Keeping your tire pressures at factory-recommended levels limits the amount of overall drag your truck produces. Properly inflated tires decrease the rolling resistance of the truck and improve fuel economy.
While the quality of the lubricants and the tolerances of the mechanical systems from the factory have improved dramatically in the last few years, it probably wouldn't hurt to change these fluids every 50,000 miles.
3. Proper Tire Pressure
Tire inflation can have a significant effect on vehicle efficiency. Underinflated tires may give a smoother ride, but they also increase rolling resistance. Tires should be inflated to the manufacturer's specifications, and on the high side of those recommendations for maximum efficiency. It's best to consult your owner's manual and the literature that came with your tires. Inflating tires to the maximum psi listed on the sidewall can be dangerous and may increase tire wear.
For accurate tire pressure readings, check the tires when cold, as driving heats the air inside the tires and effectively increases the inflation reading. Check tire pressure before going on a long trip, and always check it before towing or hauling heavy loads. In extremely hot conditions, check the pressure periodically to make sure the tires are not reaching the maximum safe inflation level.