When it comes to the world of gas mileage, big tires, lifted suspensions, and un-aerodynamic vehicle designs aren’t exactly the recipe for fuel efficiency. While there are some off road rigs that will inherently get better gas mileage than others (depending on the size of their motor), the fact is, preparing your vehicle for the trails typically works against preparing for daily driving and fuel efficiency.
There are countless products on the market that are designed to help improve your vehicle’s gas mileage, each with their own purpose. For instance, intake systems, tuners, and exhausts are designed to help your motor breathe easier and in turn, generate more power and more MPGs. These products are great, and we have done numerous reviews on Offroad Xtreme of products that are designed to help you generate more MPGs – but we wanted to put together a simple list of five FREE tips that will help you improve your MPGs.
Your truck’s motor converts fuel (energy) into power output you are able to harness with the transmission and gearing combination. Your motor is only capable of generating a set amount of power, and while you can increase the amount of power it is able to generate, it still is a fixed amount of maximum power output. With that being said, make the most of the power you have, and when able, reduce the amount of weight you are carrying.
Let’s face it, off roaders aren’t exactly lightweights – with heavy bumpers, heavy tires, and all your trail equipment, your vehicle’s weight can creep up very fast. Take a look at what kinds of excess items you are carrying around (tools, sandbags, general refuse, etc.) and take them out of your truck when you know you aren’t going to be needing them – a hundred pounds makes a difference! With less weight, your motor won’t have to work as hard to get your truck moving, and therefore be more efficient.
Hybrids use low rolling resistance tires that are designed to glide freely across the road. If you ever take a look at these tires up close, you will notice they have higher than average air pressures, are very narrow, and have very little tread depth, all of which contribute to reducing their rolling resistance. All three of those design attributes are the exact opposite of off road tires that are designed to be tough, provide traction in all situations, and self clean. Reduce your rolling resistance by checking your tire pressure regularly and keeping them at their recommended pressure when not on the trail as the proper pressure will help reduce their rolling resistance.
Putting larger tires on your truck looks cool and provides more ground clearance when on the trail. Unfortunately, the larger diameter, circumference, and weight of the oversized tires effectively increases the energy required to move them. With stock gearing and oversized tires, your motor now has to work harder to get the vehicle moving and maintain the momentum. Improve your MPGs, get some power back, and make life easier on your motor by re-gearing your vehicle to a ratio that is closer to the stock ratio but accounts for the oversized tires. A general rule of thumb is to go up one ratio for every inch of tire diameter you add. For instance, 30-inch stock tires on an F150 equipped with 3.73 rear-end gears should be re-geared close to 4.10 when 33-inch tires are installed to attain a ratio that is close to the stock setup.
It sounds simple, but a well maintained vehicle is an efficient vehicle. Do your oil changes, conduct regular maintenance, change your spark plugs, convert to an electric fan, get your transmission and rear-end serviced, and keep your vehicle running well if you expect it to be efficient.
Easily the most important factor affecting MPGs with an off road vehicle is driving habits. Drive as smooth as possible to attain the best MPGs. Avoid hard acceleration and drive like there is “an egg under the gas pedal” to where if you hit it too hard, it will break. Focus on not wasting momentum by looking for lines on the highway that will reduce your need to change speeds frequently. For instance, if you are in the city and are coming up to a red light, let your vehicle coast to a stop rather than continue to accelerate towards the red light only to get on the brakes really hard.
While all of these tips aren’t exactly going to turn your 35-inch tire equipped Silverado 4×4 into a Toyota Prius, together they can and will help you get the most MPGs out of your truck.