Easy Steps To Get All That You Paid For At The Pumps

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March 2, 2008

There appears to be more and more action on the forum site concerning fuel economy, the price of fuel, and are you doing things different. I know that Lucy and I are going through a check list of issues surrounding the cost of energy. We have decided that RVing in the winter, going to warm areas, makes sense for us. That is as we are rooted to a stick house for now located in rural New Hampshire. We know from experience that the 1900 gallons of fuel oil , the three cords of wood, and the several hundred gallons of propane that we burn in the winter here will last three or more winters in Florida. The savings will more than cover the cost of RV space rental and the number of gallons of diesel fuel to get there and back.

But there is even more that we can do to stretch the fuel we purchase for our old Foretravel. The first is that synthetic lubricants will reduce friction and save fuel. But make sure that the lubricants that you chose are adequate for your rig. The lubricants do not just involve the engine and transmission but extend to the differential, wheel bearings, chassis lubrication points including the universal joints, and the slides on the disc brake calipers.

Disc brake caliper lubrication is one of the most often overlooked maintenance items on your rig. If the calipers are slow to retract and release the pressure of the pads on the rotors it can play havoc with fuel mileage and disc brake pad wear.

The front end alignment angle known as toe in is another of those overlooked fuel economy effecting items. In most cases the front wheels on rear wheel drive vehicles have what is referred to as toe in. That means that the distance between the front of the front wheels is less than the distance measured at the rear of the wheels. If the wheels had on toe in and were perfectly parallel then as the rig was going down the road the pressure or resistance would try to drag the wheels back against the steering linkage and the rubber suspension bushings making them go to a toe out attitude. This would cause scuffing, reduced tire wear, and handling problems. So we have toe in when the vehicle is at rest.

The specifications are a range with minimum and maximum. In reality a vehicle that spends its life in city delivery type driving can be set at the minimum as the speed never exerts a great deal of pressure to the wheels. However a vehicle driven at highway speed most of the time should have the toe set at the maximum.

Then of course there is tire pressure, low pressure means more power to roll the wheel and lower fuel economy. And what tires that you buy can and will effect fuel economy. An aggressive tread pattern has more rolling resistance while what is called a highway tread with lots of smooth rubber rolling surface will save fuel. My old Chevy 4 wheel drive diesel pick up will drop just over 20% fuel economy when I put on the winter plow the snow tires. And yes I did the math to correct for the slightly larger diameter of the snow tires.

Well that is all the space for this weeks ramblings but rest assured there is more on tap for next week.


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  2. TXBrad

    The new diesel fuels have less lubricant properties to “reduce” sulphur. Also, w/ added “Willie Bio ” need to check fuel filters may need to change more often. W Older diesel engines, suggest checking w/ engine mfg. for running the new low sulphur fuel. ( be specific w/ year mfg. engine model & how you use it [ long trips drive & park for extended time] ) Also, use caution when getting it serviced at your service center; discuss above issues and/or what engine mfg. recommends.
    Today, w/ fuel costs, we need give those engines lots Love & Care !
    Also, the new Bio-fuels DON’T like extended cold weather. May need to consider Tank heaters &/ or tanks agitators.

  3. FarcticOx

    Good post Brad, thanks. We have also found that speed of travel has a lot of effect on MPG. We now travel secondary roads when possible and enjoy better mileage along with less “interstate” stress.

  4. Jim

    I was just thinking of raising the air pressure in the tires by 5 pounds. I think that should help create less drag and therefore more fuel efficient. Any thoughts?