Well, we just got back from the Escapee Rally in Gillette, WY., followed by the Life on Wheels Educational Conference at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. If you have never been to one of these conferences, you should make time in your schedule to go to one. They are so educational-you can take a class on anything from cooking in your RV and making income on the road to a numerous technical classes.

Traditionally, my classes are about RV chassis, ride and handling-but since I began doing seminars on improving fuel economy by reducing resistance, I have noticed even greater turnout and response. People still want to learn about the handling characteristics, problems and solutions associated with their particular coach, but these topics seem to have taken a back seat to fuel economy, for obvious reasons.

Since my last post on fuel economy (Minimize Resistance, Maximize Fuel Economy, part II), I have begun including trucks and trailers in my seminar as well. Most of what we do at Henderson’s Line Up centers around motorhomes, but obviously, maintaining correct tire pressure and alignment in your truck and trailer is also important. A lot of people don’t think about the alignment of their trailer, but single, double and triple axle trailers can suffer from poor alignment. As you can imagine, pulling a trailer with tow or more axles out of alignment causes a lot of resistance, not to mention handling issues-both of which can cost mpg.

There are some things I didn’t mention on my last two fuel economy posts that we’ve been talking about in the seminars. In addition to Airtabs (which we’ve already touched on) there is another product on the market designed to improve aerodynamics, and it’s called Turbo Shield. Turbo Shield is essentially a large air dam that reduces turbulence underneath the vehicle, thereby reducing resistance and improving fuel economy. The company claims 2 mpg in diesel trucks, 3 mpg in gas trucks-even when you’re not towing a trailer. For Class C’s, the improvement is a claimed 1 to 1.5 mpg. And in Class A’s, the savings is supposed to be around 1 mpg.

We’ve also discussed reducing resistance in the engine, by improving both the intake and exhaust systems, but we didn’t touch on synthetic oil. Besides using a synthetic in the engine, you can also use synthetics in the transmission and differential. Amsoil claims a fuel economy of 2-4% when you make the change to full synthetics. Some additives can also make a difference; for example, Amsoil makes a fuel additive designed to clean the fuel injectors, which could help fuel economy especially in older or higher-mileage vehicles. And Lubegard (www.lubegard.com) makes additives for both the power steering and transmission, which are designed to reduce resistance, and can thereby contribute to better fuel economy. So, between optimizing tire pressure and alignment, installing Airtabs, a Turbo Shield, switching to full synthetics and possibly using some additives, the improvement in fuel economy should be quite significant.

Of course, there’s some old ideas that still work, such as keeping your speed down to 55 mph, and using a vacuum gauge (gasoline engines only). The less throttle you use, the higher the engine vacuum. “Driving by the needle” and keeping it as far below zero as possible is a proven way to save fuel.

We’ve always emphasized the systems approach, and your vehicle’s fuel economy is no different. Get everything to work as efficiently as possible, and you’ll see real results. Rest assured, we’re going to continue to research other ways to save fuel and share those ideas with you.

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  453. Stefan

    I was watching Myth Busters the other day and they did a segment on pickup trucks and fuel mileage. The most interesting part which they just glanced over was that at 55 MPH the fuel gauge read 5.2 gallons per hour. At 25 MPH it read 1.2. Now I knew it would be less but, I didn’t think it would be that much of a difference. Just goes to show that if you slow down the savings are huge.

  454. Hello everyone! Thank you for your comments. I am still on the road, but I am going to comment/answer questions in the order in which they appear. Chip: Glad to hear that employing some of the very tips I’ve recommended on this blog have netted both fuel economy and performance improvements for you. You get my vote for “most fuel efficient tow vehicle and trailer”! You are proof that it is possible to have the best of both worlds. Lynn: Sorry to hear about your troubles contacting Turboshield. We are actually in the process of talking to the company about carrying the product, in which case it can be sold on an individual basis. Contact Michael Garton at Henderson’s Line-Up for more info ([email protected]). Rick: If you (or anyone else that reads this) are going to purchase Airtabs, make sure to call them at 877 604 2105 and give them this coupon code: HEND3. It will get you a 5% discount on your purchase, but you must order by phone. Also, you should know that the Turboshield is retractable for use in town to prevent the kind of mishaps you’ve mentioned. We’re also talking to them about the possibility of adding a proximity sensor or something along those lines that would automatically retract the shield when it is about to come in contact with something. We’ll see how that goes. Larry: We don’t know of any airshock that will fit your P30 chassis, and even if we did, we wouldn’t recommend it. The shock mounts are not strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle. A much better solution would be to install new springs and shock absorbers. SuperSteer offers springs designed specifically to carry the weight of your coach. We would recommend these new coils as well as a set of Koni FSD shock absorbers. Coil spacers are not a good idea because we’ve seen them break before. Also, a spacer reduces the travel of the spring and can cause coil bind, where the spring coils actually contact one another over a bump. This situation can cause serious damage.



  456. Rick

    The air tabs look like a good idea. I think I will try them. The air dam, however looks like a piece of equipment just begging to be knocked off by the first big dip you take or a big pot hole. Too close to the road. I’ve already bent up my rear mud flap thing hitting deep dips, I can only imagine how fast I wold take out an air dam.

  457. Lynn E. Holland

    Good information, the vortex generator looks simple and makes sense. Here is the reply I got from the torboshield people:

    From: [email protected]

    To:”Lynn Holland”
    Subject:RE: DP benefits
    Date:Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5:00:31 PM
    [View Source]

    Unfortunately we are not servicing the single sale aftermarket at this time. With all of the different vehicle designs, combined with the cost to ship a single unit, we are concentrated on volume orders designed for a specific vehicle. All volume units purchased are installed on in stock vehicles only. Sorry.

    Thank you for inquiring about our product.

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: DP benefits
    From: “Lynn Holland”
    Date: Tue, July 15, 2008 1:34 pm

    Hi, I have a 35′ 1998 Safari Sahara DP motorhome. Are the benefits the same for a dp configuration? The pictures you show all seem to be class A gas, front engine.

    Also, what is the cost?

    Thank you, Lynn E. Holland

    Any chance of talking with them and seeing if they will set up a distributorship to take individual orders? Providing the cost is reasonable, of course.

  458. Chip Martina

    I tow an 06 Aliner LXE with a 2.4l, 4cyl Chevy Cobalt SS with an automatic transmission. To improve it’s performance, and to increase it’s fuel mileage (both towing and not), especially as a tow vehicle, I’ve made some modifications.

    First, I added a cold air intake (to ease the flow of air into the engine), a equal length header and a full high-flow exhaust (to ease the waste gasses out). Next came the most important part, I sent my ECM and TCM (engine and transmission computers) off to Wester’s Garage to have them “tow tuned” for the simple modifications I’d just made. The result, not only has my 1/4 mile time dropped from 15.70 seconds to 15.35 seconds (at No Problem Raceway here in Louisiana) but my gas mileage is up as well (I averaged 37mpg driving home from the raceway that day.) On last year’s vacation, towing my 1,700lb (loaded) Aliner PUP up some pretty steep grades through the Arkansas mountains, my rig averaged 22.7mpg.

    Will I recover the $2,000 expenditure by the 10% estimated gas savings I’m getting? Probably not. Because my car was so fuel efficient to begin with, it would take about 150,000 miles to recover my costs. On a v8, I’d recover my costs much sooner. However, I now have a better performing car that’s a more suitable tow vehicle. The way I look at it, saving fuel is just a bonus. Plus I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing what I can to reduce my fuel usage (and hopefully the price of fuel) as much as possible, without it impacting my camping lifestyle.