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Old 04-28-2016, 03:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How to execute efficiency mods for 2001 FORD E350 with 7.3L diesel?

To start off I have a basic knowledge on hypermiling and ecomods, know all the cheapest and most effective efficiency mods, including aerodynamics & driving style. I am in this purely to improve my financial environment. If I am going to be enslaved to the oil monopoly, I need to minimize the cost of the slavery in both money and time.

I am looking primarily at aero mods, low rolling resistance tires, and fluid additives to reduce friction in the drivetrain.

Looking for thick, knobby low rolling resistance tires as I plan to be on bad dirt roads and don't want tires blowing. I believe if one is using city tires to save fuel, and has to replace them because they blew on dirt; the cost to replace city tires will wipe out any and all fuel savings. My dream tires are a set of four solid rubber tires, but if they have too high an upfront cost or cost about the same per year as conventional air-filled tires; then I'll get 10-ply tough tires used by country folk and fill them with rubber cement as a reasonable compromise.

Aerodynamics I am interested in as it has the biggest gain for the lowest cost, especially for a high-top van like this. I need to know how to see the vans wind envelope so I can work on minimizing drag and streamlining the front, bottom, top and sides.

I hear higher fuel economy can be had by changing to lower viscosity oil, and thinking about changing to 5w30 from 10w30 as I don't plan to spend too much time in the Canadian winter. Should I change to 5w30 from 10w-30 before I travel thousands of miles this summer? Will the fuel savings pay for switching early, and if so how many miles to break even? When I change the oil I am planning on using full synthetic and want to know what the best full synthetic oil is? Currently have 4 ounces of a product called NMF Ionic Friction Reducer in the engine oil, has anybody else used this fluid additive?

Anything I can do with the OBD to increase fuel economy through the vans software? Isn't efficiency why modern cars have computers and sensors?

How about fuel additives? Any diesel additive that saves more fuel than the cost of the additive to save the fuel? What about different flavors of diesel?

For fluid additives I am looking at any friction reducer/efficiency fluid that can be applied in the engine, transmission, differential, wheel bearings, suspension, etc.

Letting everybody know right now & to make it clear: I am NOT going to swelter and travel/live miserably in this endeavor. I know not running the A/C saves some fuel, however when it's 100+ F outside and I am in the van you bet icebergs I will use the A/C!

All mods have to pay for themselves in fuel savings and be net positive within 20,000 miles, as I am not one to do efficiency mods just for show. They have to save me money, by reducing the biggest expense for my dream life: fuel.


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Old 04-28-2016, 02:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Additives are a waste of money.
Emissions are the main reason why engines have sensors and computers. A programer can increase fuel economy by several MPG but they cost hundreds upon hundreds of dollars and the payback time is likely 100,000 miles or so.
Run high way tires with snow chains for off road. Solid tire weight could destroy the suspension.
Very few mods have a pay back of less than 20,000 miles.
Going from 10w-40 or 15w-40 to 5w-30 only saves about 1% on fuel economy but wears out the valve train something like 20% faster.
The 7.3 has that funky hybrid motor oil driven injection system. Use what ever oil ford recommends, a new set of injectors for that engine will run like $5,000.
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Old 04-28-2016, 03:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Agreed on additives - generally, they're all snake oil.

I remember doing research and coming to the conclusion that Mobile One was the best synthetic, but that was a number of years ago. I would think that whatever is cheapest will probably offer the best ROI. Don't change it until it needs it.

Tires are the most important suspension component. If you fill you tires, you'll rattle your teeth out and tear up the rest of your suspension.

I'd still go with LRR street tires, personally. For on-road use, you want high pressure to minimize rolling resistance. For offroad use, I'd lower the pressure and take it easier to minimize the risk of a blowout. Also, sometimes more expensive tires give better return if they last a lot longer.

For a diesel, cold air intake.

Rear wheel skirts.

At the rear of the roof, partial kamm back.

Partial grille block when the weather is cooler, keep an eye on temps.

MOST IMPORTANT of all is a fuel economy gauge. Your van is new enough that you could use an OBD II gauge, like an Ultragauge or Scangauge. One of these will give you instant feedback that will allow you to modify your driving, and will pay for itself in short order.

If it's legal, you can remove a mirror or two, or downsize them. Don't compromise safety though.

Smooth wheel covers - pizza pans work great.

Air dam. Just made one for my Civic out of lawn edging.

Air deflectors in front of the rear wheels - these are standard on all cars now, but a 2004 probably didn't have them.

If you can "borrow" electricity sometimes, a block heater can pay for itself.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:55 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Here are pics of the van: E350 by muff-n-stuff | Photobucket

P.S.: Right before the previous owner sold this van, he has the transmission rebuilt and major engine service done with a tune up, which means oil and trans fluid was changed very recently. Seller said the engine and trans should be good for 150,000 miles before needing major service, plenty of time to save the thousand$ needed for that service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oil pan 4 View Post
Additives are a waste of money.
Emissions are the main reason why engines have sensors and computers.
I agree that most additives are a waste of money, but there has to be some that actually do what they claim and lower running costs. I have used PRI-G fuel stabilizer, which is a gas preserver and has friction modifiers, the active ingredient in the fuel additives. Also have used NMF Ionic Friction Reducer in the DODGE and FORD engine and noticed less vibrations and noise in both engines. Also used Lucas Oil Stabilizer in the DODGE engine for one oil change because I experienced the demonstration for it in the auto parts store.

Computers and sensors for "emissions", Oh Really?
Quote:
A programer can increase fuel economy by several MPG but they cost hundreds upon hundreds of dollars and the payback time is likely 100,000 miles or so.
What is a programmer device? Is it a device that "learns" driving style to optimize MPG? Or runs the engine in "eco mode" like they have the computers do in the newest cars. Could a programmer be bought used for less, as if such a device improves MPG considerably it could pay for itself in 20,000 miles. This all depends on the price and quality of the programmer.

"can increase fuel economy by several MPG" This van gets 18 MPG running on diesel so a few MPG increase adds up quickly.

I hear FORD has their own OBD extension which means more sensors and control over the drivetrain.
Quote:
Run high way tires with snow chains for off road. Solid tire weight could destroy the suspension.
Tires are expensive, and suspension repairs are even more expensive. Perhaps partially fill the tires with rubber cement, being sure that is equally applied with centrifugal force?
Quote:
Very few mods have a pay back of less than 20,000 miles.
That's good to know.
Quote:
Going from 10w-40 or 15w-40 to 5w-30 only saves about 1% on fuel economy but wears out the valve train something like 20% faster.
The 7.3 has that funky hybrid motor oil driven injection system. Use what ever oil ford recommends, a new set of injectors for that engine will run like $5,000.
Where did you get 10w40 and 15w40 from? Will changing to lower viscosity oil in the 7.3L diesel engine lower running costs?

P.S.S.: This is where I read about improving fuel economy by running with lower viscosity oil: http://m.dodgeforum.com/forum/showth...9541&styleid=9

Curious about the transmission as well, will changing the trans fluid to a full synthetic lower running costs?

Do friction modifiers like NMF Ionic Friction Reducer reduce friction and thus reduce the engine wear rate and improve fuel economy? Can friction modifiers help an engine out? Is there a friction modifier with the same function as NMF Ionic Friction Reducer but a fraction of the price (NMF is pretty expensive, even in bulk).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecky View Post
...
I remember doing research and coming to the conclusion that Mobile One was the best synthetic, but that was a number of years ago. I would think that whatever is cheapest will probably offer the best ROI. Don't change it until it needs it.
I really want an unbiased opinion, which brand and blend of full synthetic oil is the best? Which will give me best bang for the buck, and most importantly lower running costs?

I read What is the best synthetic motor oil? and can't trust it because the site is an authrized distributor of AmsOil, and they show AmsOil as being the best in this comparison article.
Quote:
Tires are the most important suspension component. If you fill you tires, you'll rattle your teeth out and tear up the rest of your suspension.
Yeah that will increase running costs, if tires don't blow at the expense of wearing out the suspension faster it ends up costing about the same or even more. Now if the wear rate on the suspension is on par with the wear rate of the tires then it could reduce running costs.
Quote:
I'd still go with LRR street tires, personally. For on-road use, you want high pressure to minimize rolling resistance. For offroad use, I'd lower the pressure and take it easier to minimize the risk of a blowout. Also, sometimes more expensive tires give better return if they last a lot longer.
I heard the extra cost of Low Rolling Resistance tires pays for itself in fuel savings? Wont higher pressures prematurely wear out the tire and wipe out fuel savings? If airless tires were available to the consumer at a reasonable price I would consider those, as airless tires won't go flat. If one saves 5% on fuel but spends 10% more on tires over 1000 miles than one has not saved anything and in fact increased their running costs by 5% for fuel and tires. That is the way I think.

Perhaps switch to Low Rolling Resistance extra thick & knobby tire? Or tough Low Rolling Resistance city tires? What is the measurement they use to rate rolling resistance (it's a letter grade I know that)?
Quote:
For a diesel, cold air intake.
Is this on top of the air intake that is already built in?
Quote:
MOST IMPORTANT of all is a fuel economy gauge. Your van is new enough that you could use an OBD II gauge, like an Ultragauge or Scangauge. One of these will give you instant feedback that will allow you to modify your driving, and will pay for itself in short order.
Looked at Scangauges and Ultragauges, what model do you recommend for a newbie in the OBD world? Looking at ScanGaugeII : Linear Logic - Home of the ScanGauge as it does much more than read fuel economy, looks like it's all-in-one.
Quote:
If it's legal, you can remove a mirror or two, or downsize them. Don't compromise safety though.
I live in California and the van is registered in California with California plates. Let me know if removing mirrors are legal in California.
Quote:
Smooth wheel covers - pizza pans work great.

Air dam. Just made one for my Civic out of lawn edging.

Air deflectors in front of the rear wheels - these are standard on all cars now, but a 2004 probably didn't have them.
Great to know. Look at the van pics and see the high top and roof rack, how to make that aerodynamic? I AM NOT removing the roof rack, so don't even go there.
Quote:
If you can "borrow" electricity sometimes, a block heater can pay for itself.
Great plan, keep that engine warm so it runs efficiently. Can somebody link to a block heater for this engine which has decent quality with a great price?

Last edited by debit.servus; 04-29-2016 at 05:12 AM..
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Alright, so I looked at your pictures, here are my suggestions in the form of most payback for least money/effort spent:

EDIT: I read your post above, sounds like you want to keep the rack. Still consider my suggestion of integrating it (solar panel) into the roof though. As for what model scangauge to get, check to make sure your car has an OBD-2 port instead of one of those diesel truck ports. If it does have an OBD-2 port, I say go for the Scangauge II.


Remove roof rack (free): It looks like you have a solar panel up there, but trust me, that ain't worth the increased aero drag the roof rack is causing. Maybe try to integrate the panel into the roof?

Weight reduction, bro (free): From your pictures, I would say that most of the weight you put in your van if fulfilling some useful purpose, but in case some isn't, take that crap out!

Air dam ($5): Looks like you already have an air dam, but it can be improved, maybe lengthened. If it was flush with the outer edge of the bumper instead of recessed that would be best for aero.

Grill block/bumper sealing ($5): seal up that huge gap in between the bumper and grill, and start blocking the grill. Make sure to watch transmission temperatures. From what I have read on my accord forum, the bottom part of the radiator cools the transmission fluid, so try to trace the lines and find out if your radiator cools the transmission. Then block the area that doesn't.

Rear wheel side skirts ($5): Cover up the wheel wells with coroplast, consider leaving a gap at the back to let air out instead of parachuting.

Mirror delete or replace with smaller mirrors ($0-20): Depending on what you do, this could be free, or just cost a little bit. Those mirrors aren't too big, but they are bigger than most car mirrors.

Undertray ($40): Depending on how much you want to cover up, this could take a lot of time and money, or very little. My suggestion if you don't want to do a full undertray is just make a front and rear undertray. Those give the most fuel economy benefit along with stability improvements as well.

Remove the step side skirts (free): Those skirts are acting as mud flaps and catching air, however, at the back it does have a deflector for the rear wheel. I don't know how much this would really improve gas mileage, but it could. If you do remove these, make sure to add a deflector back for the rear wheels.

Delete external antennae (free): Free, but least benefit for the work involved.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have owned my 2000 F350 daily driven 7.3 diesel for about 80,000 miles.

You already have a block heater, all 7.3s do. It is located right above the oil filter and the plug is stuffed into the bumper on pickups, you'll have to follow the wire to find yours. It's just under 1000 watts and works.

The engine oil of choice for this engine is shell rotella t6 full synthetic 5w-40 from walmart. It works very well in all temperatures, factory recommendation is 15w-40 and since 5w-40 is wider but inclusive of 15-40 it is always better. 3.5 gallons per oil change. The OEM motorcraft oil filter is also sold at walmart for under 10$.

The 4r100 transmission is very expensive. Nobody uses synthetic. Instead keep the trans fluid up to level and flushed with standard at the recommended interval.

I use 2stroke oil, 0.5 to 1 oz per gallon of diesel. It made an immediate difference in rattle but no fuel savings. It's to keep the injectors happy. walmart supertech TSO.

For mileage, keep RPM under 2000. Keep cruise speeds low.

The computers and sensors on this engine run the engine. It is not your grandpa's diesel. Everything is computer controlled from fuel injection to throttle position. High voltage solenoids and high oil pressure oil fires the injectors, not an injection pump.

I added a performance chip. They are only a 2-300$. Huge improvements in transmission behavior and power but mpg was not changed.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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18 mpg for the van is already pretty good. She's working well. I can only get 20 or so with my pickup and bed cover.

The biggest 7.3 failure that causes a drop is mpg is exhaust leaks around the stupid uppipe exhaust connection between the exhaust manifolds and the turbo. Leaks here cause a loss of drive pressure for the turbo and dropped efficiency. Easy to change on a van.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Diesel engines normally use 10w-40 or 15w-40. 5w-40 is also good.
Better use what ford recommends for oil or you will find out how much repairs for one of these engines can be.
Friction modifiers are already in oil in the correct amount.
The Lucas oil demonstration in the store is pretty pointless for a real engine, because unfortunately your engine oil does not operate at room temperature and at hand cranking speed. Then if it actually did work as demonstrated it would cause more oil to cling to surfaces, increasing windage, increasing oil temperature and foaming.
The 7.3 intakes for certain years are restrictive costing power and fuel economy, one of the best things to do with it is rip it out and replace it with an after market one.
You are not going to find a highway approved airless tire or a LRR mud tire. So don't waste too much time on that one.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It will be near impossible to modify your vehicle to perform safely and reliably on dirt roads AND get efficiency comparable to a street vehicle.

Having run over more than my fair share of nature's spearheads on back roads, I would recommend that you concentrate on the most survivable tire. Street tires just aren't going to have the same protection as an off-road rated tire. There are off-road tires that have tread designed to run relatively quiet on pavement. Perhaps quieter tread equates to (slightly) lower rolling resistance? Oh yes, no matter what tire you get, make sure you have a couple of spares with you, and a patch kit.

Chains limit speed. I can see how they may help in mud, but on a long desert track that can easily (perhaps not safely) be driven at speeds above 60 mph, the restricted speed is a serious impediment.

Solid or max. pressure tires, after 100 miles or so of washboard, will shake your vehicle (and you) apart. My ex-brother-in-law had mining claims in the desert of Western Utah. He would go through a truck about every 3 years because the body welds would start to break.

Get a reliable air compressor so you can adjust tire pressure to match road conditions (and fill tires after repair). I have not had particularly good luck with those little compressors sold at parts stores. They burn out quickly, if used regularly.

The easiest and cheapest way to squeeze more miles out of a tank is to drive your diesel like a diesel and keep it well maintained.

If you are driving mostly on dirt, get an air intake snorkel and a pre-cleaner to keep your filter from clogging quickly and reduce risk of grit in your turbo and engine.

A full skid plate guards against undercarriage damage from high centering and tire-thrown rocks and debris. If designed properly, it can also act as an aerodynamic belly-pan. Then you don't have to worry about an air dam and approach angle issues. Losing the side skirts will also help with clearance. Save them. For some reason, vehicles have higher resale value with them on.

Remember that any aeromods you make will be subjected to extreme abuse, so design and fabricate accordingly.

For highway efficiency, losing the rack would be the first thing I would do. It is a large van, you ought to be able to fit everything inside, unless you have a lot of passengers, and even then, a trailer would probably be a better option. Am I right in assuming that the solar panels do not allow the rack to be used to carry anything? There must to be a better solution for the solar panels.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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By 2002, actually anything after early 1999, the 7.3 was at the top of its game. The intake after the turbo is fine. Ford put out a nice intake filter system (the AIS) for the pickups but not for the van as space is very limited. Just be sure the filter is fresh and installed properly. This 444 CI forced inuction engine has no throttle plate, it's wide open throttle all the time so LOTS of air.

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