If you are anything like me, when the price of fuel skyrockets you’re sometimes left thinking “Maybe I could just take the bus”. You then come to your senses, fill up your tank and drive away, telling yourself there must be ways to make a full tank go further.
Luckily, there is. Combining Eco driving habits, maintenance, and some extra awesome mods can help you increase your fuel economy.
What Mods Increase Gas Mileage?
There are a few changes you can make to your car to increase its fuel economy. Some of these are simple and cheap while others are a little more involved. It’s important to consider how much of a difference they’ll actually make if gas mileage is the only reason for the upgrade.
Our first mod involves rethinking the way your car travels through the environment. Obviously, if you have a big slab of steel and plastic doing 90km/h, you want it to do so with as little effort as possible.
If you’re sporting roof racks or a roof pod, it would make sense to remove them when not in use to keep the drag on your vehicle down. This paired with some other reasonably simple body mods (e.g. mudflap and aerial removal) may help you get those extra miles per gallon.
There is an extreme end of the scale where you could go down the path of swapping bumper bars and mirrors for a more aerodynamic option. But again this is getting a little more serious and depends on what you are after in your car.
Consider your tire choice
While not being a new or crazy mod, tires help play a big part In the fuel economy of your vehicle. Opting for a lower- rolling resistance tires can help.
There are a few things to consider here:
- Your preferred brand of tires, the size, budget, and what you are using the car for.
- If you have a 4×4 that you use off-road, you would need to try and find the lowest- rolling resistance tires while also accommodate your needs when off-road.
- In addition to the correct tires for your needs, keeping the correct air pressures in the tires plays a big part in helping your car travel with the least amount of resistance possible.
Chances are unless you’re kicking a hole in your floor and using pedal power (Fred Flintstone style), your car will have some kind of an electrical system. As time goes by, things wear out. This includes any wiring and earth grounding terminals. When connections are damaged or they loosen, it can create resistance.
Now it might not sound like a big deal, but as resistance increases, all of your electrical components have to then work harder. From your A/C to your sound system, everything is grounded using a common earth point of some sort. Keeping this clean and secure can help increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency for a small cost.
One of the easiest economy mods is to change your oils out for thinner alternatives. Using synthetic oil in your diff and gearbox can help reduce friction between gears. This intern leads to less energy been absorbed through heat. Plus these oils can also help prolong the life of the parts. Though synthetic oils are a more expensive option, they tend to last longer than other regular oils.
Ditch The Belt
Though been less common with cars now, some newer and a majority of older cars use belts to drive things like water pumps and radiator cooling fans. The engine is using its own power or energy to then run a pulley that would run these items.
Taking the need to run these off the engine’s own power and converting them from being mechanically driven to electrical is a great way to lessen the strain on the engine.
Not one of the most affordable mods, but for the die-hard “HYPER-MILER”, converting belt-driven items to electrical is a must. Couple this with our last grounding mod and you’re on your way to saving real dollars.
Catch up on maintenance
Another easy and affordable way to stretch those gallons is to properly maintain what you already have. Regular servicing can help maintain and improve your fuel economy. If your car is well overdue for a tune-up, then replacing worn out spark plugs and checking your engine is correctly timed are both great places to start.
Everyday service items can play a big part in the amount of stress your engine has to go through to do its job. Say you have a partially blocked air filter, from all the dirt, and whatever else ends up in there. The engine then must work harder to suck air in through the filter, down through the throttle body (or carb), and into the head where the combustion process takes place.
The same can be said about maintaining fuel filters, for the same reason as an air filter. If your filter is blocked and not allowing the full amount of fuel to pass through down to the engine, it’s going to make things a lot harder to keep things running.
So making sure your car is regularly serviced and checked will definitely go a long way to help you achieve extra lengths when talking about fuel economy.
It might seem counter intuitive, but modifications that increase horsepower don’t necessarily use more gas. Anything to do with making your engine breath more effortlessly can actually help your fuel economy, so long as you aren’t constantly “enjoying” the added power with your foot to the floor.
Depending on how efficient your vehicle is from the factory, aftermarket intakes, exhaust, high flow cats, and headers can all help to extract more MPGs.
Tune the ECU
Nearing the end of our list is another relatively easy mod that can be done. There are a number of companies out there that offer custom or plug and play tunes for a variety of cars.
While they boast a power increase with these tunes, a lot actually advise of greater full economy when in use. Again, another not so cheap mod, but depending on how much fuel saving you are after, it could be for you.
Many cars are tuned to run fairly rich at both idle and while cruising on the highway. Leaning them out when there’s no real strain on the engine can drastically improve your gas mileage.
Use your vehicle’s helpful features
While not necessarily a mod, some newer cars offer an engine stop/start function. When the vehicle is stationary with the clutch off, the engine is shut down to reduce the time spent idling. When the clutch is pressed down, the engine starts back up.
As stated, this is not exactly a mod perse, but if your car has this option and you’re not using it, you could be missing out on some super fuel savings.
Mods That Won’t Help – Debunking Myths
We’ve all heard some rather creative ways of increasing fuel economy and it’s safe to say that you can’t believe everything you read online. Here are some silly ones we’ve heard of:
There are a few products out there that make use of magnets to try and get you more bang for your buck when it comes to your fuel economy. These products claim to use magnets to break down and align fuel molecules leading to a smoother, better burn.
Do they work?….No they don’t. The last time I checked there are no magnetic materials in your fuel – at least there shouldn’t be. If there are, you have much bigger concerns than fuel economy!
Acetone is most commonly used in chemistry and around the house as a solvent to remove paint. On the other hand, there are some people that think adding it to your fuel tank will slow down the burn rate, resulting in a cleaner more efficient combustion cycle.
After some very quick and minor research, we found out that adding acetone to your fuel tank does…..nothing.
Driving Habits To Save Gas
Aside from any of these mods, you can also save fuel by simply changing the way that your drive.
Here is a list of good driving habits to help increase gas mileage:
Maintaining a steady and constant speed
Speeding up and braking, then speeding up again is a surefire way to waste fuel. Try to keep some distance between yourself and the car ahead of you so you won’t need to make sudden movements. Keep the fact that every time you slow down, you’ll need to use gas to speed back up in the back of your mind.
Use your gears wisely
If driving a manual, don’t hold it to the higher rev ranges to shift gears. Change up and down through the gear’s smoother and earlier.
Avoid any excessive idling in your car
Idling uses more fuel than turning off your engine and restarting it, hence the start/ stop function on some newer cars now. It’s also bad for the environment if you happen to care about that.
Where you can, you should try using your cruise control
Switching on the cruise control is a great way to help with our first tip and keep your driving steady and constant. After a long drive, this can get tiring and you might lose focus. Your cruise control will do a decent job of maintaining a steady speed, especially on flat ground.
Testing some (or all) of these mods and habits with some trial and error will probably see you get more miles out of your usual tank of fuel. Apart from using the mods we have mentioned here, you may want to consider a hybrid or fully electric car next time you’re in the market for a new vehicle to take your fuel economy to the next level. Or maybe the price of fuel will lower and stay there – that would be great too.
Tim is the creator of Canadian Gearhead. His experience with auto detailing and working for Toyota shows through all of the articles posted here. He runs the Canadian Gearhead site and YouTube channel full-time now and currently owns a 2007 4runner, 2006 Tacoma, and 1991 MR2. Read more about Tim: