By G.R. Whale
Readers of a certain vintage will remember fantabulous devices that promised double-digit (on a percentage basis) improvements in fuel economy. Said devices cost from $19.95 to just less than $500. We even tested a few, including the infamous engine fuel ionizer and a set of gasoline magnets, though I could never identify any magnetic components in gasoline, nor could my chemical engineering friends. Not one of these devices ever lived up to their promises.
Still, everybody wants better fuel economy from their work or play pickups; that's why those questionable mileage-improving gizmos got any attention at all. Even if you have the biggest, baddest pickup on the block, a little extra range can't hurt. Manufacturers know this and — regardless of federal regulations — have discovered several ways to improve a new truck's fuel economy. Among them: aerodynamic profiles, more transmission gears and cylinders that shut off. However, all these features cost a good deal of money.
We have a suggestion for reliably improving fuel economy and it will only cost you a little time: Just slow down.
Yeah, I don't like it either but it's a foolproof method that works. The bigger and older the truck, the better the results: A steady 46 to 48 mph on public roads has netted me the best mpg numbers from my pickup.
What's your best method for improving fuel consumption? Maybe you add 5 more pounds of tire pressure? Maybe you take out the toolbox for long road trips? Ever tried a cold air induction system? Or maybe you don't let your lead-foot spouse drive the V-8 at all. Let us know what you do and how well it works, and we'll pass it along.
Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan; Image by Angela Conners