The cost of fuel for your RV or tow vehicle is always an issue, fuel prices fluctuate from time to time but the cost always seems to climb. Getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to fuel is a challenge.
Fuel costs are always a large part of any RV budget, especially if your plan is to tour, in other words see the country. I am going to reveal how to save money on fuel,….. no matter how much the prices fluctuate.
In my first article on fuel economy, click here to check it out, how to increase fuel economy, I focused mainly on the subtle things you can do to increase fuel economy and thereby lowering your fuel cost……. but none of those will matter if you don’t take control of your fuel expenses.
But before I get into three important ways to reduce fuel cost her is a couple more subtle ways to help.
Tire pressure not only increases fuel economy but also prevents premature wear. If you have one tire that is a little low on pressure it probably does not make that much difference, but if they are all different pressures you may be wobbling down the highway.
Subtle Tip #2 – Route Planning
The route you travel can also affect the amount of fuel you burn. For example if you take the scenic route, it will be more enjoyable but it will most likely be longer and slower, which invariably will use more fuel.
A more direct route will of course be shorter, take less time and lower your fuel consumption. Freeways can be the most economical, the constant speed versus stop and go of the scenic route will increase your fuel economy. Good trip planning is essential for better fuel economy.
………….and now the technical stuff.
3 Important Tips
To reduce Fuel Costs
At Hybrid Fest in Madison Wisconsin at the end of July in 2007, dozens of hybrids did a mileage challenge. The course was 28 miles through downtown Madison, into the countryside and back through the city. ScanGaugeIIs were used to measure the amount of fuel it took to cover the course. One Prius used 0.19 gallons (147 MPG) Most of the others got well over 100 MPG. These people don’t lose sleep over the price of gas anymore.
Hyper milers use ScanGaugeII which are actualy fuel monitors that monitor the fuel consumption of your vehicle at all times. These people use every trick that they can find to get most MPGs, many achieve more than double the EPA ratings!
Fuel monitors provide real time miles per gallon just like the factory options. But more importantly, they also show averages. They show fuel use and economy for each trip you make, for all the trips in a day’s driving, for all of the previous day’s trips and over the entire tank of fuel.
Each time you start driving after the engine has been off for at least three minutes, the “current” trip resets to 0 MPG and starts increasing as you start driving. You will see the MPG value go up and down as you drive.
.It will become very apparent what you can do to maximize the value. At the end of the day, you can see the average for the day in the today selection and compare it to the previous day’s values.
In order to get good real-time feedback, you would set up the current trip mpg as a gauge. You could also display the actual amount of fuel used on the trips, since using the least amount of fuel is the actual goal. This allows you to compare different routes to places you often travel to; like work, school, the mall, etc. You may also transfer the ScanGauge to your tow vehicle or motor home.
When you fill up, you input the amount you paid per gallon. This allows the ScanGaugeII to show the actual cost of each trip as you are driving. This is a good way to see what each trip is costing. You may find that driving further to get a lower price on gas is actually costing more then you save.
Who knows, you could even become a hyper-miler.
Important tip #2 – Increase power and fuel economy of your engine…..even if it is restricted by factory settings.
Did you know that most companies restrict your engine settings to restrict power and fuel economy.
There are several reasons and theories for manufacturers’s restrictions on modern computer controlled engines. Probably the most important reason is….. COST.
All vehicles today are controlled by advanced computer systems that monitor and adjust engine characteristics based on sensory information.
It costs many thousands of dollars for government emission testing. The theory is that engine manufacturers do not chose to spend the money to have every engine model tested so they set the computers ECU (engine control unit) to a minimum standard of power and economy rather than adjusting the computer to get the maximum fuel economy and power.
There are many variables in how an engine performs. One variable is the Fuel/Air mixture. By adjusting the computers MAP of the fuel air mixture, you can achieve horsepower and fuel economy restricted by factory settings.
In fact I installed a software tuner package in my 2004 3500 Duramax several years ago. My fuel economy climbed from an average of 15 mpg to 20 mpg. That cuts about 1/3rd off my fuel costs, great mpg for a large pickup.
An after market computer software program can adjust many of the manufactures setting to increase fuel economy, engine power or both.
The engine tuners are simple to install, just plug the module into the data port on the drivers side just below the dash, follow the instructions.
After only a few minutes you will be able to enjoy more power and better fuel economy. Most tuners come with options of increasing power or fuel economy. Check out these tuners for your engine.
Tip #3 – Performance Chips
If you are into going one step further, as my brother is, chipping your vehicle can enhance the power and performance. I’m not sure about how much better fuel economy you will realize but an increased power will be evident.
My brother shared a story about his power increase after he had his 2006 3500 Duramax chipped. He was traveling with a camper on his truck and towing a boat. He was climbing a hill in the right lane when another vehicle started to slowly pass him.
The double lanes were coming to the end and the other vehicle was not going to get past him. He hit the throttle and left the other vehicle in the dust so to speak.
All was good except his truck had developed a vibration, he had twisted a U joint. He had gained too much power. So be careful. I have heard of many people chipping their vehicles and sometimes the transmission or another component can’t take the extra stress. Chips and tuners are similar, make sure you order the right one for your vehicle.
One final note, if your vehicle is under warranty and you need repairs use the programmer to reset your vehicle back to factory settings, otherwise you may have voided your warranty.
These three products have already helped myself and many others reduce their fuel costs I am sure they will help you as well. Just start using these products and the suggestions in my previous article and watch your fuel costs drop.
For your convenience I have compiled a comprehensive list of equipment and items you may need for your RV and camping travels, complete with product links, click here to check out my list & links.
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