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Useful Tips On How To Improve Your Truck's Fuel Economy

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By Author: Oliver Bennet
Total Articles: 24
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Pickup trucks are not exactly the type of vehicle you would look for when it comes to fuel efficiency. Even with the latest models with improved fuel economy, most trucks still struggle to compete with compact and hybrid cars regarding gas mileage.

Truck owners are well aware of how much fuel their vehicles burn. Depending on their use, they can be demanding with their fuel consumption, such as towing, hauling heavy loads, and even off-roading. Fuel has been a significant concern when it comes to the expenses of owning a truck. Good thing many drivers came up with plenty of ways to improve fuel efficiency. Here are some changes you can make to increase your gas mileage and save as much money on your fuel cost.

1. Maintain A Steady Ride
Pay attention to your driving style and habits. If you find yourself constantly speeding, accelerating, and braking, you might want to fix your driving habits.

You are going to burn more fuel by excessively going faster. The American Trucking Association (ATA) reported that a truck consumes 27% more energy when driving at 75mph than driving at 65mph. The vehicle ...
... will only save 12 minutes by going 75mph rather than 65mph at a distance of 100 miles which is not worth it with the corresponding fuel consumption.

Frequent accelerating and braking put more stress on your engine. These driving habits increase fuel consumption and cause wear and tear on parts like brake rotors and brake pads. These are common when driving in stop-and-go traffic and highly congested roads. Trucks take more fuel to get back up to speed in stop-and-go traffic. You can avoid constant accelerating and braking by maintaining a steady pace and distance from other cars. Take it easy whenever you need to make a complete stop and start driving again.

You can also use Cruise Control to improve your gas mileage. This tool can assist you in maintaining a steady ride on level roads. It also helps save fuel consumption cost up to 6% by limiting unnecessary acceleration and deceleration. However, it can decrease efficiency when driving on uneven terrain and uphill climbs. Consider the surrounding and road conditions before making adjustments to your driving style.

2. Keep Proper Tire Pressure
Monitor your tire pressure and ensure the tires are properly inflated. Underinflated tires increase tire rolling resistance, making the truck consume more fuel to generate enough energy to keep the tires rolling. It would be best if you inflate your tires according to the manufacturer's specifications for optimum efficiency. Check the tire pressure before towing, hauling heavy loads, and going on a long trip with your truck. Make sure to have a proper wheel alignment and tire rotation too.

There are plenty of low rolling resistance tires available in the market. Some aftermarkets offer wheel and tire packages that cater to drivers interested in optimizing their truck's fuel efficiency.

3. Use The Right Kind Of Gas
Check the owner's manual of your truck for the recommended fuel. High-octane gasoline is said to increase fuel efficiency. As good as it may sound, the cost of premium fuel tends to offset your fuel savings. Stick to the regular fuel to avoid paying extra for the premium. Unless the owner's manual instructs the use of premium fuel, or your vehicle includes a turbocharger or supercharger.

4. Switch To Lower-Viscosity Oil And Synthetics
Using thick or high-viscosity oil takes more energy for your oil pump to run the engine's internal parts, directly affecting the amount of mpg your truck gets. Switching to a lower-viscosity oil can improve your vehicle's oil pump efficiency and fuel economy. Lower-viscosity oil decreases energy loss in pumping because it flows faster and requires less energy to lubricate engine parts. Using this oil is also beneficial during the winter months since the oil gets thicker in cold temperatures.

Synthetic oil can also be used as an alternative to high-viscosity oil. Synthetic oil has a higher level of temperature flexibility. It can maintain ideal viscosity in a wide range of ambient temperatures. This oil is much more refined with performance-enhancing additives. The advantage of synthetic oil is not the fuel efficiency but the protection against engine wear caused by cold starts, towing and hauling loads, and stop-and-go traffic.

Performing regular oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles can also help improve the oil pump and keep your truck running fuel efficiently. Oil gets excessively thick over time, so it is highly recommended to regularly change the oil to extend engine life and better gas mileage.

5. Plan Your Route
You can plan your route before driving by using modern GPS tools and navigating apps. These apps can provide information like the fastest route to take and roads with highly congested traffic to avoid. Choose the path that requires the least amount of driving. You can avoid stop-and-go traffic that increases fuel consumption and drains your gas mileage. Try to combine multiple errands into one trip to save gas too.

6. Lighten The Load
Removing unnecessary weight from the truck bed and cargo area can help you save fuel costs. A loaded pickup truck burns more fuel because it needs to work harder to move with the extra weight. Try to lighten the load, especially when you need to tow or haul specific items. It is better to leave those tools and supplies just sitting on your truck bed at home.

7. Maintain Good Aerodynamics
Installing a tonneau cover can fix the poor aerodynamics of the pickup truck's open bed and tailgate. It can prevent airflow into the truck bed where it pushes the tailgate that creates drag, causing more fuel use. This truck accessory also provides safety from natural elements and theft.

There's a lot of different tonneau cover type available in the market. Some covers are easily retractable and removable whenever you need to haul items on your truck bed. The tonneau cover is an excellent investment to make your truck more fuel-efficient unless you're moving stuff on a daily basis.
Camper shells are also good at preventing aerodynamic drag. Newer models are better-designed and contoured to reduce drag while providing larger and secured cargo space. Camper shells are not as practical as tonneau covers because they add extra weight for the cargo and shelter. However, they are a good alternative when you constantly haul larger equipment and tools since they protect these items while traveling.

8. Avoid Idling
Pickup trucks, especially heavy-duty, have larger engines that consume more fuel when left idle. They burn around 0.8 gallons of fuel each hour, higher than the 0.25 to 0.5 gallons that regular cars burn in idling. Going idle adds up fuel consumption quickly. It also increases emission and engine wear. Try to avoid drive-thru with long lines by parking and going inside the establishment instead. It is better to turn off the engine than to let your truck idle.

9. Decrease A/C Usage
Turning off your truck's air conditioning can help increase fuel efficiency. Leaving your windows open while driving is a good alternative to save fuel consumption. Although, using your A/C is unavoidable, especially during the summer heat. Be sure to check the weather and temperature first if they are ideal for open-window driving. Try to park in the shade to avoid heating up and make it easier for the truck to cool.

10. Conduct Regular Maintenance
You can maximize and maintain your truck's fuel efficiency by conducting regular maintenance. Some components affect your truck's fuel consumption. If some parts are left unchecked, they can compromise your fuel efficiency and damage your vehicle, leading to unwanted repair costs. Thoroughly inspect your vehicle's tire pressure, wheel alignment, intake engine, brake quality, and the state of your transmission.

Check for parts that need replacement to ensure that they are working properly. There are plenty of durable and high-performing 4wd parts aimed at improving fuel economy available in the market. Some truck owners replace their default air intake system and exhaust with high-performance ones. Although, you have to calculate the cost-benefit of modifying the truck to see if it will cost you more than it will save in the long run.

Making fuel-efficiency improvement a priority is the best way to cut your fuel costs. Consider the tips above and make them a part of your driving habits and routine. You'll be surprised how much money you can save from vehicle expenses in a year.

More About the Author

I've been writing automotive-related content for 5 years. It started as a hobby but it opened up an opportunity for me to make it a career. I contribute articles about off-roading and truck parts and accessories at 4WheelOnline.

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