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The recent spike in fuel costs is hitting tradesmen right in the bottom line. Plumbers, masons, drywall installers — and all the other professionals who require a full-size truck to bring home the bacon — are feeling the pinch. All is not lost, though; these three simple changes in driving style and vehicle maintenance can yield appreciable gains in fuel economy.

#1) Keep it under 65! Drag increases exponentially with speed, i.e. wind resistance at 80 MPH is four times greater than at 40 MPH. This makes a huge difference when you’re driving something with the aerodynamics of a brick.

#2) Lighten the load! Every extra 100 lbs of mass can reduce mileage by up to two percent. So if you really don’t need those extra bags of concrete, leave ’em at home base.

#3) Keep those tires at their recommended air pressure! For every PSI below spec, fuel economy goes down by about half a percent. Check it regularly, when the tires are cold, with a quality pressure gauge. Dollar-store tire gauges are notoriously inaccurate, so spend a little extra on a decent one.

Car Talk‘s Tom and Ray Magliozzi recommend Accu-Gauge tire-pressure gauges, and I generally take their advice. You can get one at Amazon for $13 — not a bad deal.

Note: Thanks to Brett Herndon for the photo. Brett is testing out Aero-Caps that significantly increase fuel economy, but at the moment he’s mired down trying to find funding to get it out to the masses.

Via Amazon [What’s This?][B0006O2SB4] [What’s This?]
[FuelEconomy.gov]

 

24 Responses to Better Mileage Isn't Just For Commuters

  1. BC says:

    You could always tailgate a semi like the Mythbusters did with a Dodge Magnum wagon.

    Honestly, though, the best way is simply to use the pedals as smoothly as possible. You’re never gonna get 30 mpg out of your one-ton.

  2. mike t says:

    Add in a high cap and ladder racks full of long ladders and your aerodynamics are screwed again….

  3. Zathrus says:

    Please stop posting this “drive with water” BS unless you want to explain how you’re managing to beat the physics and get more power out of the hydrogen and oxygen then you used to split the water into the hydrogen and oxygen.

    Thus far, nobody has found any method to do that. And this alleged company hasn’t produced some fantastic catalyst or enzyme to make it possible.

  4. ryan says:

    It is very simple Zathrus. You put alternators on millions of bicycles and use prisoners to power them. You also power the prisoners with anything edible, i.e. carp, weeds, table scraps, dog food, ect, ect, ect. Then you use the electricity to break apart water into its basic elements.

    I am glad that I agree with you on this physics problem. But after much reading on the subject I still think that titanium hammers are akin to snake oil in the physics department.

  5. Mr P says:

    zathrus

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Meyer%27s_water_fuel_cell

    I read some where that i tweaked it to create 700x the power that it consumed to his unique method of electrolysis.

  6. Mr P says:

    zathrus

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Meyer%27s_water_fuel_cell

    I read some where that he tweaked it to create 700x the power that it consumed do his unique method of electrolysis.

    Sorry about that.

  7. Zathrus says:

    And I read somewhere that Santa Claus violates the rules of physics too!

    Hrm, a bunch of useless patents, unverifiable claims (despite all the attempts to do so), and what amounts to smoke and mirrors. Oh, and it violates fundamental physics theories that are well proven (and I’m not even talking about thermodynamics here; although it violates them too).

    And really… 7000% efficient? Seriously? You realize that photosynthesis, which is one of the most efficient natural processes in existence, is only about 5-6% efficient for doing the exact same thing; even if you adjust only for the light absorbed by the plant it’s “only” 50-60% efficient, which is pretty remarkable and significantly more efficient than the best man-made electrolysis.

  8. Teacher says:

    Tomorrow I’m going to fill my gas tank with water and drive from North Carolina to Brazil without stopping for fuel. Right now I have to rest. I just flew around the world just by flapping my arms and I sure am tired!

  9. fuzzmanmatt says:

    Where’s the love for your boys in retail? We sell the Accu-Gauge brand at Advance Auto Parts for about the same price, and air filters are 25% off through the 28th!

  10. Chris says:

    Mr P, surely you’re not seriously using as a reference a Wikipedia article that, in the very first paragraph, states, “Meyer’s claims about the Water Fuel Cell and the car that it powered were found to be fraudulent by an Ohio court in 1996”, and immediately follows that up by stating, “Similar devices have been promoted by others (see Water-fuelled car): there is no evidence that any of these devices operate as claimed.”

    If anything, that article totally DISPROVED any claim you might have had that what you’re asserting is even remotely possible.

    You, sir, are an idiot of the highest order if you think running a car on water will ever work. Don’t like it? Prove me wrong.

    cl

  11. Émile Essent says:

    Drag does _not_ increase exponentially with speed, it increases with the square of the speed.

  12. Émile Essent says:

    And when you are just visiting a customer, take your car. Or your bike.

  13. Donny B says:

    Ok here we go …. Chucks Rant get the lame-ist solution ever…. Areodynamic truck…. Like screen door for submarine!

    Physics = My true passion, Snake oil = run car on water…. yes there is juge potential for running cars on water, but right now the technology for doing this is just plain and simply not ready. Effeciancy has nothing to do with it…. who cares if it is effecient = its water Hello!!!!!!!! CHEAP already……

    I have been through a ton of these so called “MPG increase” gizmos, the one that works the best is change your oil, use a high effeciecy low grag air filter (aka don’t make your enigne have to pull ahrd to get air, just like breathing hard) and of course keep your tires inflated….

    and perhaps don’t accellerate hard all the time for those who have a trucar and watched too many NHRA, NASCAR, IHRA, INDY and formula one races over the weekend…..

  14. ryan says:

    To break water apart into H2 and O2, is an endothermic reaction, meaning it requires you to put energy into the reaction. In this case, electrolysis is the method. It is very simple to do and I was doing it in my bedroom 10 years ago when I was in highschool. One simply needs an anode, cathode, and catalyst. The anode and cathode feasibly needs to be platinum which is a very expensive metal that does not corrode very easily if at all and is not easily attainable.( I personally used copper and aluminum which oxidized in a few hours into weird colored gels.) To these one attaches the + and – of a DC power source such as a battery charger. The catalyst can be table salt mixed into the water. Then one needs to figure out how to store the Hydrogen gas which can go through any easily attainable material like water can go through a screen. And of course you need a special engine to mix these gases in the correct ratio then burn them. To react H2 and O2 with eachother is an exothermic reaction, which means that the reaction creates energy. But there is a catch, the energy in the exothermic reaction is less than the energy put into the endothermic reaction to make the gasses. To sum things up, one needs a lot of platinum, a special hydrogen storing tank, a special hydrogen burning engine, and a lot of electricity and money to burn.

    I highly doubt some guy in his garage has made a method to do all of these things to a gas powered car in a cheap and efficient way with common materials and tools. But I am sure some guy on his computer made a website promising such a thing if only the reader forks over a measily $50 to save thousands a year. Then he takes the money an runs away laughing. One thing I was laughing at as I was reading the website was that they called the resulting gas from electrolysis HHO….hahaha Try again Mr P(suspected website creator)…I have some new ideas for you, make a rock burning website, or perhaps a device that sucks nitrogen out of the air and gives one unlimited energy, or say, a perpetual motion machine that makes its own energy out of nothing………or hey just ask the reader to send you 50 bucks and you will send back thousands!

  15. ryan says:

    I just reread Mr. P’s website for comic relief and I had to give this quote.

    “HHO, also known as Hydroxy burns effectively and supplies significant energy, whilst the end product is just Water. HHO has the atomic power of Hydrogen and maintains the stability of Water!”

    hahahaha, where does he come up with his stuff?

  16. ToolFreak says:

    You can convert a diesel engine to run on cooking oil, though you still need the diesel fuel to start it and shut it down.

    You can also convert it to run partially on water:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crower_six_stroke

    This stuff is out there, it’s not magic and it’s not snake oil, it’s just not popular enough to be a “catch-all” solution for everyone.

  17. Donny B says:

    Catch All , is the way to make things Viable in a free maket economy. With out making it fesible and possible, there will be very little use of the product.
    These things do work, in lab experiements, I know, I did a ton of work on Water injection, it work s great. The problem is making it a practical application. Water injection is a great way to increase volumetric effeciency. But not very practical in a day to day use. Again we are trying to help the “Working” guys and gals out there. We need VIABLE solutions….. Not experiments that don’t make it past the “In my garage it worked stage”

  18. Benjamen Johnson says:

    Zathrus did not go far enough in his admonishment. You cannot run a car on water. You have to add energy to that water by changing pressure, temperature, or breaking it into hydrogen and oxygen.

    By saying you can run a car on water, you are misleading people into thinking they can fill their tank with tap water and drive — that tap water has some sort of potential chemical energy of it’s own. Even in the last case of the six stroke you are just using water to transfer energy not create it.

    In short don’t even think about calling any of these schemes running on water. Use the proper terminology so you don’t mislead people: hydrogen, steam, or hydraulics!

  19. fred says:

    From all that I’ve read about alternative fuel vehicles and the hydrogen economy – these are still mostly developmental. CNG vehicles have made some inroads as buses etc. – and there are a few all electric (battery-motor powered) vehicles (still mostly low top speed) hitting the market. Plug-in hybrid EV’s seem to be mostly aftermarket kit-conversions. Commercial (PHEV) products from the big automakers seem to be a few years off. Everyone seems to be citing battery technology as the stumbling block. There is a French company with an Indian partner – looking at compressed air instead of batteries to store energy in cars.

    On hydrogen-fueled cars, water can be split into hydrogen by electrolysis and the resultant hydrogen stored. Hydrogen can also be produced from hydrocarbons (e.g. oil). For automotive use, some schemes would have the hydrogen fuel stored as a compressed gas – but others would store it as a metal hydride. The hydrogen can then be converted back to heat and work in a combustion engine or turbine – or more directly to electricity via a fuel-cell. Round-trip efficiency in all of this is an issue – as you need to produce energy to make and store the hydrogen – and you get less back at the very end of the cycle. Fuel cells may help improve the efficiency. These schemes are not meant so much to be cheap as they are meant to improve the environment – particularly in cities where pollution from auto exhaust is a problem. To make this work inexpensively, some form of “cheap” energy is needed. 60 years ago, some thought that cheap nuclear remotely-sited nuclear power plants would drive the hydrogen economy. Now some are touting solar powered arrays in areas like the US Southwest producing both electricity and hydrogen. – Who knows when we will have any of this.

  20. Zathrus says:

    Ok, currently the “hydrogen economy” is a complete myth. Currently the only feasible way to get hydrogen economically is from… you guessed it! Fossil fuels. Primarily oil and natural gas. Except that hydrogen (either in compressed or hydride form) isn’t as efficient as the hydrocarbons it comes from for combustion purposes. And while hydrogen does burn cleaner than hydrocarbons, if you’re making it from them in the first place then you still have to deal with all the byproducts (although at least now they’re being made in a few places thousand plants rather than a few million vehicles; but the same is true for electric cars, and that’s a much more viable solution).

    There’s only one country on earth that currently has so much excess electricity that they can afford to move to a “hydrogen economy” that doesn’t involve fossil fuels. Iceland. They have vast, VAST quantities of electricity due to hydro, geothermal, and wave power and no good way to sell it to another country. So they use it to split water and have hydrogen powered vehicles (including fishing trawlers!).

  21. Coach James says:

    “is an exothermic reaction, which means that the reaction creates energy”

    Are you sure you don’t mean “releases heat”? The energy isn’t created as it is already there.

  22. Andrew says:

    WTF they stole my aero cap idea

  23. bert says:

    How appropriate, you guys are a bunch of “tools” this went from a article about saving a little bit of money on gas to fantasy land water fuel. Just lay off the gas pedal and keep someone infront of you to breakup the wind on the road. And don’t fault a guy if he makes his car a bit more aerodynamic so he can squeeze out a couple more gallons.

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