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Petti the Yeti 06-13-2011 08:07 PM

Stock Ranger from TN checking in
Hey everyone. I've been lurking over here for the past couple of months or so, and finally decided to start posting.

I recently replaced my aging '97 Toyota T100 (3.4L V6 auto) with an '06 Ford Ranger (2.3L V4 5 spd) to start working on getting more fuel economy out of my fill ups. Not to mention it will be much easier to find parts for if I manage to break something.

Now, it's going to take me quite a few years to match my purchase (and inevitable upgrade and maintenance) cost to fuel savings as it is, so I'm looking to work on some aero-mods for it to hopefully get it evened out faster, not to mention bragging rights to all my 4x4 buddies who only get 13mpg. :thumbup:

Here are my current plans:

1 - 2 or 3 inch drop
2 - Aero-cap bed cover
3 - Bumpers and side skirts
4 - Full length belly pan
5 - Fender skirts or hub covers
6 - New wheels and lightweight rims

Keep in mind, this is all going to be spaced out over a few years, probably. In the meantime, I will be using the hypermiling tips here to increase what I can without spending money. But I do have a few questions about all of this:

1 - For the suspension drop, has anyone done testing to see what kind of effect this will have on the MPG? I have heard most people say it will help, but no one could seem to agree on HOW MUCH it would help. Anyone have any experience?

2/3 - For fabricating the Aero-cap, bumpers, side skirts, and fender skirts, what is usually the best way to get them started? I have been looking at foam insulation to cut and mold before fiberglassing, but is that the cheapest/most effective way to do something like this? I have practically zero experience with any of this, so is it also noob friendly?

4 - For the belly pan, I was thinking of using some thin aluminum sheeting, similar to what you might find on the side of a shed or something. Has anyone used this type of material in this application before? I would like more input on how easy it is to form, install, what kind of MPG gains I would be looking at after the suspension drop, etc..

5a - For the fender skirts, I am worried about how I would be taking the tires off. Most of the fender skirts I have seen pictures of looked to be mostly permanent, which looks like they made it nearly impossible to get access to the tire to change flats and such. Anyone have some ideas on how I could do these "properly" so to speak?

5b/6 - For the hub covers, in the short run, I would probably be doing the pizza pan trick I have seen around these boards, but in the long run, I would like to get some custom rims that are essentially the same thing, except that they would be light weight, and support the tires themselves. In other words, I would be looking to decrease rolling weight and resistance. Sound like a good plan, or is it unnecessary?

Thanks in advance. :D

Frank Lee 06-13-2011 08:16 PM

Re: dropping: aero articles tell us it improves aero and in the real world that may be, but the gains, if any, are going to be quite small.

I'd put the aerocap as #1 on the To-Do list.

I love the concept of belly pans as much as anyone, but they too seem to fall a bit short of expectation as far as results. I'd say they're essential for an all-out fe effort though.

I made some prototype skirts that were held on with 1/4 turn spring loaded clips that I also made. Tool-less remove/replace, not difficult. Mine did interfere with checking tire pressure though, and I would definitely make ease of checking tire pressure a top design priority if I ever make skirts again.

You are gonna have a really tough time finding parts for your V4, as I'm sure you have the only Ranger V4 in existence! :eek:

Petti the Yeti 06-13-2011 10:29 PM


Originally Posted by Frank Lee (Post 244958)
You are gonna have a really tough time finding parts for your V4, as I'm sure you have the only Ranger V4 in existence! :eek:

Haha, yeah, that might be difficult. Meant to say I4.. It's been a long day. :rolleyes:

As far as everything else you said, it sounds like I am barking up the wrong trees in terms of aerodynamics. If a suspension drop and belly pan are on the lower list of the mods available, what else is there to do to try and improve the aero' qualities of the truck?

Quick look over the 65+ mod list, I'm seeing an air dam, grille block, and tire spats? Overall, would those do any more or less than a drop and belly pan?

Petti the Yeti 06-16-2011 10:41 AM

Alright, I have a baseline of 15.1 MPG from my first tank. Filled 16.5 gallons at 249.2 miles, or something like that.

This was driving about as far from hypermiling as possible. Shifting at 4000+ RPM in each gear, speeding at 80+ MPH on the highway, cruising at around 3000 RPM through the city, running the AC on max, etc. In short, as aggressively, and economically careless as possible.

Starting yesterday, I have been shifting between 2500 and 2800ish RPM for each gear, cruising between 1500 and 2500 RPM, going only 65 MPH on the highway, and using just the fan instead of AC. Also filled it up with premium 93 instead of regular 87. I have no idea if the higher rated blend will help, but I did it anyways.

Anyone have some other tips, or ideas about the aerodynamic mods I wanted to do?

roosterk0031 06-16-2011 01:54 PM

I recommend only changing one variable at a time to learn what works. Driver adjustment will almost double your mileage, it's rated at 21/27 so you should be able to get into that range just with driving adjustments.

Try a tank holding it to the posted speed limit and skip the premium.

Petti the Yeti 06-16-2011 03:45 PM

Well, if it gets me into the mid 20's, I will attribute the entire gain to driver adjustment. The current data I have is worst case scenario, after all.

You said skip on the premium blend.. Does that mean it has no impact on efficiency, or is there a small impact that is overshadowed by the extra 20 cents/gal at the pump?

After a few more days of careful consideration, I think these will be the mods I put on:

1 - Aero-cap
2 - Grille block
3 - Scan Guage
4 - Moon caps / Fender skirts
5 - Air dam / Belly pan

Not necessarily in that order, just whenever I find money/time to do them.

roosterk0031 06-16-2011 04:20 PM

In general the extra octane of premium does nothing for a engine not designed to use it, high performance sports cars, turbo or superchaged cars. I haven't tried premium in my cars so I can't from my own experience say that it doesn't work.

I used to use 89-E10 only, but lately 87 regular 0 ethanol, 87 octance get my Stratus the best MPG by about 1-2, depends on price which is actually cheaper per mile. A mix of E85 and E10 getting 4-5 mpg less than E0 was cheaper, but E85's price is up, gas down so I suspect 87 ocatane 0% ethanol might be cheapest now.

Hardly any difference with the Malibu between 87-E0 or 89-E10 so you have to find out for yourself with your truck.

I'd go SGII, take a few tanks to get it calibrated, change your driving habits, try to not use the brakes, then inflate your tires somewhere between door sticker and sidewall max and see how that goes. Next grille block or air dam. If your tires are nearing the end of their life start looking at LRR tires.

Petti the Yeti 06-16-2011 06:22 PM

Alright, well, I guess this will be my truck's last "wine tasting", so to speak. Back to regular old beer for now.

What exactly needs to be calibrated in the Scan Gauge? I was under the assumption that it gives you an instant "as you are right now" MPG reading, regardless of type, make, or model..

roosterk0031 06-16-2011 06:35 PM

You input your engine size when you first plug it in, fill truck up, tell it so, next fill up you compare how much gas you put in to how much it thinks you used and adjust it's number to match how much you really put in. It's was like 4% off with the Malibu, maybe 8% with Stratus. Regardless of what the number say, you can still use it to learn and compare day to day. I can't keep the Stratus calibrated (car issue) worked fine on the Malibu very consistant.

It doesn't adjust for different Ethanol blends so if you change blends you may need to recalibrate.

Petti the Yeti 06-16-2011 06:43 PM

Alright, that makes sense.

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