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How To Improve Minivan and SUV Fuel Mileage

These vehicles have intertwined themselves in the fabric of society with the ability to move more passengers in greater comfort than the ‘station wagon’ of yesterday. Thus as fuel costs rise these vehicles cost more and more to drive, but simply cannot be removed from service as they perform many necessary functions.

Sure you could purchase the ‘latest and greatest’ minivan such as the ‘B Max’ from Ford that gets great mileage, but if you can afford to buy a new minivan with every new model, then you really don’t need to worry about fuel cost.

new ford bmax minivan

The manufacturers have done a great job of designing these vehicles, to not only give great comfort, but to be aero dynamic and achieve the best mileage they can. However, there are things that each minivan or SUV owner should do to help mileage.

We are all aware that keeping the tires properly inflated helps with mileage, but increasing the recommended pressure by 2psi can really help the mileage. Just remember to not exceed the maximum tire pressure.

Wash the vehicle as often as practical so that wind resistance is reduced to the design specifications. A dirty vehicle simply does not ‘slice’ through the air as efficiently as a clean vehicle.

Look at how you use your minivan. Do you have it full of passengers, or is it only you  on most days commuting to work? If it is only you, then consider removing the passenger bench seats and storing them in the garage until needed. Most minivans have the ability to remove the bench seats rather easily, typically with only a couple latches. These seats can weigh several hundred pounds and are dead weight being hauled. Removing them lightens the load of the vehicle.

Do not fill your fuel tank when you purchase fuel. Moreover, definitely do not overfill it by constantly squeezing the dispenser handle to ‘totally fill the tank’! Buy only enough fuel to maintain the fuel level between one quarter and one half tank. This is more than enough fuel for a few days travel for most people, plus it removes more weight the vehicle must carry.

Do not allow the vehicle fuel level to constantly remain below a quarter tank as this is the threshold requirement for many vehicles to perform the emissions diagnostic monitor testing built into every vehicle since 1996. This diagnostic testing is a great idea as it monitors the fuel vapor recovery system.

This system captures the vapors off the fuel and returns them to the engine to be burned. This does not increase fuel mileage much, but every little bit helps and more importantly, it keeps you informed of a potential fuel loss such as a broken hose that could allow liquid fuel to drip from your vehicle.

Not to mention that IF this diagnostic testing is not performed, the cars computer may use default values and those default values could be programmed for lots worse mileage.

If you own a scan tool like the 2X80S series, you could quickly check the car computer for operation, but more importantly you could look at the Oxygen Sensors to see if the vehicle is running properly or if it has a ‘rich mixture’ bias. This ‘rich mixture’ bias tells you that the car computer is compensating for too much fuel and is usually an early warning of  problems.

Considering the low cost, and easy operation of the professional quality scan tools and the free software included with them, a scan tool is something that every motorist should own. It is as important as having a tire pressure gauge.

The folks at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an app to time traffic lights. Initial trials suggest that it can lead to a 20% fuel saving. Of course you don’t have to have the app, but you could still practice your driving timing skills to reduce wait times at traffic lights.

This removing the seats, and reducing the fuel stored in the tank can easily remove 500 pounds or more, which is less work for the engine to do. Adding 2psi pressure to the tires if possible, washing the vehicle, monitoring the Oxygen Sensor, and developing your traffic light timing skills can all make a difference in your wallet.

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2 Wheel Vehicle Applications
 
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All above information is based on published information as of 01/2015 or products purchsed to confirm
 

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