In previous editions of Forum Friday, we have discussed fuel saving tips such as a change in driving habits, but mechanically altering a vehicle’s fuel mileage is a different story. The question brought up in this Friday’s thread of interest is how is it possible to reduce a car’s fuel consumption? What changes can be made to increase a vehicle’s average miles per gallon without the change in driving style? Let us find out.
There is a world of aftermarket parts that claim to increase fuel economy. Some are much more legitimate than others, which means a buyer needs to look beyond the flashy ads to see the real truth. One product in particular is known often by the name “The Turbonator”. A special add-on for a vehicle’s air induction system that uses a small fan to create a ‘boost’ effect on the air. The EPA went after these devices and proved that not one variant of “The Turbonator” increased power or fuel economy in any circumstance.
Next to “The Turbonator” as a gimmick are fuel saving additives. What these additives actually are is very similar if not the same as fuel injector cleaner. They are just a flushing agent that is added to the fuel tank which then makes its way to the fuel injectors, picking up some excess ‘garbage’ along the way. These can have an effect on efficiency, but it will not improve mileage. At best, they can just bring a vehicle’s mpg back up to its ‘like-new’ average.
Not all is lost however as there are a few mechanical changes that can be made to a vehicle to actually improve mileage. What these changes do is lower overall vehicle weight, lower under-hood and intake temperature, and increase exhaust flow rate. They also happen to be the most common aftermarket performance parts used: the intake and exhaust. In general, these can actually increase fuel economy, but by how much is really dependent on the vehicle in question.
An engine’s working rate in most newer cars and trucks is determined by the ECU. Changes to the mechanical induction system may not have a large effect on these vehicles. Programs are built into the ECU from the factory to ’reset’ itself if changes are put in place. These means that on a lot of newer vehicles, in order to see any real difference in efficiency and or performance, a ECU reflash must be performed.
On older cars however, efficiency wasn’t as perfect as it is today. In order to achieve low emissions using older technology, older vehicles have a tendency to be more ‘restricted’. Freeing up those restrictions, which are most prominent in the induction system, can free up mileage. Cold air intakes lower the intake temperature and the internal combustion engine operates more effectively at lower ambient temperatures. The lower the temperature, the more efficient an engine, the more miles per gallon.
Any increase in mileage because of an intake system, in all honesty, will not be that substantial. At first, depending on the vehicle, an increase of 2-4 mpg may be seen. But like anything, an intake system can become less effective over time. Regular cleaning and maintenance needs to be done in order to hold onto any gains. In short, the only honest way to increase fuel mileage is to alter the way you drive.
Do you have any thoughts about increasing fuel economy? Have you had experience installing an aftermarket part to see higher miles per gallon? If so, sign into Autotalk.com’s forum and post away. Or, leave a comment on this story’s page.
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