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Old 04-03-2009, 10:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hello... I bought a truck, and need to make it more efficient

Hi All,

I'm checking in from Madison WI. I have been driving a small, fuel efficient car for years, but I recently had to buy a 2009 Nissan Frontier for my business (native landscaping and natural areas management). Since a big gas guzzler is my only car now I want to do whatever I can to make it as fuel efficient as possible.

I ride a bicycle quite a bit, so leaving the truck in the garage as much as possible is my first line of defense. I will also be buying one of those MPG sensors and my wife and I will be working to improve our driving habits. Another initial mod I will try is those pizza pan wheel covers since it looks cheap, easy and looks pretty slick. And when they become available, I hope to buy one of these bed caps. I'm definitely interested in other mods, but I'd like to keep my truck looking pretty good since it is my business vehicle and impressions are important. That said, drawing a little attention to myself with some environmentally responsible modifications wouldn't be such a bad thing in my line of business. Also the truck needs to continue to be functional off-road as well so, for example, any aero mods must not interfere with that. One thought I had was if a full-belly skid plate would provide both off-road protection and an aero advantage. I don't know much about these though.

I have a question about grill covers: A lot of people are suggesting these improve aerodynamics. Would a product like the ones below improve the aerodynamics at all?



Other suggestions for making a truck more fuel efficient are welcome.

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Old 04-03-2009, 12:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The bed cap might pay for itself eventually in fuel savings, and it has some practical value too.

You want to PAY for a grill block? Find yourself some corrugated plastic, spray paint it black, cut it to the shape of your grill, and zip tie it on.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to EcoModder. Getting max mpg out of the truck you need to drive sounds great!

If you didn't see them already, go have a look at the two stickies at the top of the "EcoModding Central" subforum here. And there's a similar sticky or two at the top of the Aerodynamics subforum.

My favorite biggies that can really help, without changing the look (or not changing it much) are:
Higher tire pressure. Just remember to reset it after the dealer lowers it during service visits!
Grill block (use your soon-to-be-bought ScanGauge to monitor engine temp digitally)
Tapered cargo cap would be super on the pickup.
Warm air intake? Apparently it helps some designs more than others. If you try it, use ScanGauge to monitor the intake air temp.

Underbody smoothing panels. There was a thread somewhere, a guy with an off-roading Subaru who put metal sheathing underneath that was aero and also protective. Watch out what kind of fasteners you use. Dissimilar metals will corrode. You can look it up in Wikipedia for good details. Rubber "well nuts" aka expansion nuts could be the thing. Or you could strap around the framing so you don't have to drill into it at all. Might help protect your warranty. Am I still making sense? I'm up way past my bedtime.
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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About the tire pressure. Both the reccommended and maximum pressure for my tires seems to be 35 psi. How much higher can I safely go?

Also, these tires were filled with Nitrogen at the dealer, they tell me that the tires lifespan (not the tread but sidewall I guess) is 20% longer with Nitrogen, that there is a 5% improvement in rolling efficiency and that the tires will stay inflated longer. Seeing as air is 78% Nitrogen already, I don't know how true any of this is. But is Nitrogen in the tires a common mod for people? If so, how might I go about topping off my tire pressure a little higher (assuming it is safe to do so)? Will the dealer do it or do I need to find my own?

Should this be its own topic in one of the forums?
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm sure I've seen Nitrogen discussed here - try a search.

Anyway, the consensus seems to be that it's helpful mainly for those who habitually don't check their tire pressure and so let it decrease. I'd estimate that most on this board check pressure more frequently. The higher nitrogen content and reduced water and oxygen leak out much slower so the tires keep pressure longer. The resulting maintained pressure supports all the other claims: reduced sidewall flexing, increased tread life, reduced rolling resistance to improve mpg.

For a conservatively oriented discussion of the benefits of very high pressure, have a look at Driving Under Pressure: Editorial & Features at Officer.com

You have to make your own decision on psi of course. My son has 44 psi-rated tires and I recently put them up to 41, knowing he'd be bent out of shape if he ever found them pumped like mine.

Mine are also sidewall rated at 44 psi and I keep them around 50. They have 12K miles on them so far and treadwear is very nice, thank you. No complaints from passengers either, not regarding stiff ride anyway.

I measure pressure when cold in the a.m. It will increase about 4 psi from highway driving and also about 1 psi per 10 deg. F temp increase. They can take it.
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Old 04-04-2009, 05:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I doubt the dealer will be willing to inflate beyond sidewall max due to liability.

The pros/cons of nitrogen has been discussed at length in previous discussion on this forum, but I don't recall seeing anything about -
Where/how can I inflate beyond sidewall max using nitrogen.
I suggest you start a new thread in EcoModding Central using the above as a title.
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Old 04-05-2009, 12:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TestDrive View Post
I doubt the dealer will be willing to inflate beyond sidewall max due to liability.

The pros/cons of nitrogen has been discussed at length in previous discussion on this forum, but I don't recall seeing anything about -
Where/how can I inflate beyond sidewall max using nitrogen.
I suggest you start a new thread in EcoModding Central using the above as a title.
Don't bother with the dealer. If you have an air compressor, use it to fill up your tires. Otherwise, find a gas station with an air compressor and use that.

As far as how much pressure to use, I'm currently running both my cars at 50 PSI. I gradually worked up to 50, first running 35, then 42, then 48, and now 50. The ride is a little rough, but it's getting great MPG numbers.

Check out this thread for lots of comments on personal experience with tire pressure:

http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthrea...ires-7482.html
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Old 04-12-2009, 08:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum. I'm also a new member with a truck. I have an '03 S10 4 cyl 5 spd ext cab. I've added a scan gauge and been slowly adding mods seeing great returns. Last week I was due for an oil change, I change my own in all my vehicles, and I went to Mobil 1 full synthetic high fuel economy. I haven't been through a full tank on the synthetic to see if there is a noticable improvement, but I believe the engine is smoother.

The most noticable change was inflating my tires to max. The sidewalls are rated at 44 psi and I have them all at 45. No change in ride quality and a definate increase in mpg on the scan gauge. I also noticed I had "fake" foglight holes in my factory air dam. I removed it and duct taped them up from behind. From the front its not even noticable. I then removed my grill and duct taped the lower half of the grill opening shut from the rear side of the grill. Again, from the front you can't tell I did it. Doing these things took my avg mpg on my trip to work form 26.7 to 30.7 with no noticable adverse side effects.

I don't use this truck for a work truck, its my commuter only. I do haul things for the house occasionally, yesterday I had 300 pounds of sand from Lowes in it. I pull a trailer with a lawnmower every two weeks or so. So, the truck isn't really used for "hard" work. My needs for the truck are different from yours but hopefully you can try some of the things I have tried and see some success. Definately get a scangauge if you want to see real time data on your mods, and adjusting your driving style is the biggest improvement you can make. Good luck.
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Old 04-16-2009, 12:09 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Also new here.
I recently did a write up of my progress so far on my work truck,
Vehicle efficiency upgrades
All the ideas originated here.
It does lots of work, full apartment moves, multi-ton hauling, etc
From an expected 10-15mpg (empty) I am getting 23mpg (real-world in-use); so far...

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piwoslaw View Post
A few months ago I returned home just as my neighbor pulled into his driveway. It was cold (around freezing) with some rain and sleet, and he yells to me: You rode your bike? In this weather?!?

So the other day we both returned home at the same time again, only now the weather is warm, sunny, with no wind. And I yell to him: You took the car? In this weather?!?
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