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  • Writer's pictureDave LeGear

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

Skiff Launch

Fuel costs are going through the roof again/still... So, here are some tips and several updates 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 needs a new one. It can save 28 cents a gallon or carry 23 more miles on a typical tank. I am a big fan of the K&N filters for this reason... Also, dirty throttle bodies (Truck and Boat) can cause issues with higher than expected or jumping idle speeds and 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 effort it takes.

2. Straighten out:

Poor alignment forces your engine to work harder, reducing gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. Fixing it would be like saving 28 cents per gallon as well as reducing some costly tire wear at the same time. Also, when did you last inspect the wear pattern on your boat trailer tires? Maybe that axle/axle is not square having the very same effect? Also, installing radial tires will save fuel when upgrading your boat trailer tires. I had a friend of mine save a whole tank of 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" does not apply in today's world of fuel-injected, computer-controlled engines, the impact of worn components is the same. Also, checking other ignition-related items like spark plugs, plug wires, distributor caps (though not many of them left anymore), and loose/dirt ground wires that could be worn also reduces performance and increases fuel burn rates. How you ask, because without even thinking about it, you will 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, let out about 20 psi of air from your bicycle tires, and then take a ride!

5. Check your fuel cap:

It's estimated that one in six cars on the road has broken or missing gas caps, which reduces gas mileage and possibly harms 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. 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 pounds range, it can. Also, covering up the truck's bed to clean up the airflow (mostly at 35 mph and higher) can return a reported saving of 5 to 15% and pay for the installation of the cover over time.

Just don't tell your Spouse, "Dave says you have to stay home so I can save on fuel," I am not taking the fall for that one! 😊

7. Don't speed:

For every five 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 grade or I need to pass. The static difference for me when towing is I drop from around 20 mpg when empty to approximately 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 will outrun 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) to try and run 70 plus mph while towing any boat. Besides, it is way too easy to upset the whole mess and lose it all if not careful... So slow down and quit trying to run the "24 hours of Daytona" every day. It will save both money and stress at the same time!

8. Drive smoother:

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

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

9. Don't idle:

Turn off the engine if stopped off the road for more than 90 seconds. 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 take down the sunshade, lower the windows, and put on my driving glasses and seat belt long before I start the engine. The only thing I don't do before starting is crank up the Tunes or soundcheck 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 same reason... I like the engine to get to FOT (Full Operating Temp) if possible, before I do any serious snapping around the engine. When shutting down, I turn the engine off first, then (without opening any doors) I put up the windows and do other needed items. I often see people leave the engine running while doing so when there is no need.

10. Run quality fuel:

And track how your engines (both automotive and outboard) are using it at each tank fill. I posted some Excel sheets that you can download and use soon. This tracks the Truck and Boat engine fuel usage under various conditions... After a while, you will better understand 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 needs is of no savings and may cost you more in the long run. Those sheets are also an excellent way to track maintenance and service work in the comments sections simultaneously. Having and presenting such records can help increase your asking price and value at resale time!

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

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

Yamaha Burn Rate gauge

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 will burn for the same distance! Plan the trip to the nearest ramp for your intended fishing area and from launch there. This way, you can stay in the A/C longer and stay out of the weather for when you pick a fight with one of these Monsters... You are going to need it!

Capt. Honson Lau with a Big Tarpon

I hope this helps save on some funds in the Truck fuel tank. If nothing else, put in and use it for the Skiff!

Maverick Skiff running

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

In the meantime,

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

Our main podcast page works excellent for mobile devices since it streams right on your phone or tablet. You can find it by clicking Here.

Our new Flats Nation YouTube Channel can be found by clicking here and sharing it with family and friends if you find it entertaining and educational! We have some great guests in the works and planning stages on a wide range of topics and product coverage soon.

Also, The "Flats Nation" Merch and Swag collection has some new works now (just click on each Design or Picture to view that collection) and can be found by clicking Here or just click on our Flag below to take you to that section to land some for yourself and family/friends that enjoy their time here on Flats Nation. 😎

Tight Lines, and God Bless!

Dave and the Team

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