top of page
  • Writer's pictureDave LeGear

Squeeze more MPG (Truck) and less GPH (Boat) fuel burn.

Fuel costs are going through the roof again / still... So, here are some tips I found and updated to help keep some money in your wallet or at least, not spend it as fast!

1. Check your air filter:

A clean air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and nearly one in four cars need a new one. It can save the equivalent of 28 cents a gallon, or carry you 23 more miles on a typical tank. I am a big fan of the K&N filters for just this very reason... Also, dirty throttle bodies (Truck and Boat) can cause issues with higher than normal or jumping idle speeds as well as an air restriction into the engine which is just as bad. Need an example of restricted Air Flow and Power output? Go jogging with your hand over your mouth, and see how much more effort it takes?

2. Straighten out:

Poor alignment forces your engine to work harder, which can reduce gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. Fixing it would be like saving 28 cents per gallon as well as reducing some very expensive tire wear at the same time. Also, when was the last time you inspected the wear pattern on your boat trailer tires? Maybe that axle / axles are not square having the very same effect? Also, when upgrading your boat trailer tires, installing radial tires will also save fuel. I had a friend of mine save a whole tank fuel when making the same trip to the Keys, when he put radial tires on his triple axle cat hull trailer many years ago.

3. Tune up:

A properly tuned engine can improve mileage by 4 percent, which is like saving 11 cents a gallon. Though the word "Tune Up" really does not apply in today's world of fuel injected, computer controller engines the impact of worn components are the same. Also, checking other ignition related items like spark plugs, plug wires, distributor caps (though not many of them left anymore either) and loose / dirty ground wires that could be worn, are also reducing performance and increase fuel burn rates. How you ask, because without even thinking about it, you are going to depress the gas pedal (throttle) even further to do the same work...

4. Pump them up:

It is reported that more than one-quarter of vehicles have improperly inflated tires. The average under-inflation of 7.5 pounds costs drivers 8 cents a gallon of gas. This also applies to your boat trailer tires and if you need a reminder, just go let out about 20 psi of air out of your bicycle tires, and then go take a ride!

5. Check your fuel cap:

It's estimated that one in six cars on the road have broken or missing gas caps, which reduces gas mileage, as well as possibly harming the environment. Fix it and save 2 cents per gallon.

6. Lose weight:

For every 100 extra pounds carried around, your vehicle loses 1-2 percent in fuel efficiency, or 4 cents per gallon. Now this figure does not apply as much or as quickly, to your pickup or SUV as it would a car since they are geared lower. But, once you get into the 200 to 500 extra pound range it can. Also, covering up the bed of the truck to clean up the air flow (mostly at 35 mph and higher) can return a reported saving of 5 to 15% and pay for install of the cover over time.

Just don't tell your Spouse "Dave says you have to stay home so I can save on fuel" for no way, am I taking the fall for that one! 😊

7. Don't speed:

For every 5 mph you reduce highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by 7 percent. Slow from 70 on the highway to 65 and save about 19 cents a gallon. Even when towing (and considering that Florida is flat) by driving less than 70 MPH my Xterra will pull our Skiff and stay in overdrive till it hits some kind of grade or I need to pass. The static difference for me when towing, is I drop from around 20 mpg when empty, to around 18 / 17 mpg even though I am dragging an extra ton or so of weight behind me. Besides, it is about as aerodynamic as a brick, and the only way I am going to out run a Porsche or BMW is across a Golf Course! So, in my eyes it is foolish and unsafe (though I can with little effort from my SUV) try and run 70 plus mph while towing any boat. Besides, it is way to easy too just upset the whole mess and loose it all, if not careful... So slow down, and quit trying to run the "24 hours of Daytona" everyday. It will save both on money and stress at the same time!

8. Drive smoother:

The smoother you accelerate and decelerate, the better your gas mileage. Consumers who drive erratically can pocket the equivalent of 48 cents a gallon by driving more smoothly. Driving your truck as if it was pulling the boat all the time and extra space you allow to both speed up and slow down helps.

Pay attention to don't walk signs flashing as you near the next intersection. Most flash 10 times before the light changes to yellow. If flashing, and you are too far to make the light safely, then just start coasting... This saves not only on fuel, but on brake pads and extends on their replacement intervals at the same time.

9. Don't idle:

If stopped off the road for more than 90 seconds, turn off the engine. For every two minutes that you don't idle, you'll save the equivalent of nearly 1 cent per gallon (it all adds up). I also, do not start my truck when I first get into it. I go ahead and take down the sun shade, lower the windows, put on my driving glasses and seat-belt long before I start the engine. About the only thing I don't do before starting, is crank up the Tunes or sound check the next Flats Nation Podcast. This way I at least give the engine a few seconds to turn the oil over before driving away as I fire up the sonic waves...

I also, do not hammer on the gas pedal for the first few minutes or so for the very same reason... I like the engine to get to FOT (Full Operating Temp) if possible, before I do any serious snapping around of the engine. When shutting down, turn the engine off first then (without opening any doors) I proceed to put up the windows and do other needed items. Many times, I see people leave the engine running while doing such when there is really no need.

10. Run quality fuel:

And track how your engines (both automotive and outboard) are using it at each tank fill. Will post up some Excel sheets that you can download and use soon. This to track both the Truck and Boat engine fuel usage under various conditions... After a while, you will get a much better picture of which fuels perform the best in your engine. Just remember, that burning "more" of a lower quality and lower octane fuel than what your engine really needs, is of no savings and may cost you more in the long run. Those sheets, also make for a good way to track maintenance and service work in the comments sections at the same time. Having and presenting such records, can help increase your asking price and value at the time of resale!

11. If you don't already have one, install a fuel burn gauge / read out for your Outboard:

These will really show you how to best trim for lower GPH rates! Something to consider on your upgrade path that will in time, give one a good ROI (Return on Investment) by having one installed this or as a planned gauge upgrade package.

12. Never drive a Boat where you can drag it:

No matter how much fuel your tow unit burns, in most cases it is much less, than what the Skiff or Boat is going to burn for the same distance! Plan the trip to the nearest ramp for your intended fishing area, and launch there.

This way, you can also stay in the A/C longer and at the same time out of the weather for when you go to pick a fight with one of these Monsters... You are going to need it!

Hope this helps save on some funds in the Truck fuel tank if nothing else, put in and use it for the Skiff!

And really, all part of the 1st rule in making money, don't spend it...

We invite you to take in a few Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you just cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:

Our main podcast page that works great for your mobile device since they will stream right on your phone / tablet can be found by clicking Here

And our new Flats Nation YouTube Channel can be found by clicking Here and share them with family and friends if you find them Entertaining and Educational! We have some great guests in the works and planning stages on a wide range of topics and product overage soon.

Tight Lines, and God Bless!

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page