So I know I have written some posts about random things I have done or plan on doing to my 1996 Honda Civic, physically to get better gas mileage. But never all at once. So I have decided to write a complete post with all my mods with images along with the reasons behind them.
I will put them in order of difficulty, with the easiest first. As it usually goes with many things you get what you pay for, and that usually goes the same with modding your vehicle whether if it’s for performance but also applies to MPG. Which means the most drastic mods, will provide the most gain, but every little bit counts!
0. Yes, I am starting at 0, because this should be a given, but (I guess) sometimes can be overlooked. If your car is not in good running condition, please get that addressed first. Last year I blew a wheel bearing and my avg MPG quickly dropped to 35 or so (from 44, at the time), until it was replaced. Go to a mechanic, get your car checked out, and a tune up can’t hurt either!
1. Lighten the load My Cost: Free
I do a ton of driving, I drive a little over 60mi per day, six days a week. So when I read this tip at another site, it really made sense. Why drive around with any extra weight? Empty your trunk and remove any extra, unneeded items from your cabin. More on this later…
2. Air up your tires My Cost: FREE
Quick and easy, well the filling might be put finding the numbers on your tires, can sometimes be a challenge. While most cars do list the “recommended” tire pressure in the driver’s side door jamb. I have found in most cases this differs from the pressure listed on the tire, which is what we are looking for. The likely reason for this is, the lower the pressure the softer or nicer the ride. Once you locate the max tire pressure of your tire, pull out the air compressor or run to a gas station and fill em up. I won’t even say, “if they are low” because I believe that 98% of the people driving on the road very rarely check there pressure.
Check em regularly! Your tire pressure that is, I check my tire pressure once a week, so I would recommend checking them when you fill up your gas tank.
I currently run my tires about 12lbs over the rated max. My tires are rated at 50, so I fill them up to 62lbs or so. If you want to do this I would recommend doing this in increments, because as I said above, the higher the pressure the rougher the ride. I don’t know how high whether in pounds or a percentage of your max, but use common sense, and pay attention to the tires and the tread wear.
Also note that airing up your tires can reduce your traction, especially in wet conditions, I broke my back end loose on a few low speed turns. SO BE CAREFUL! You shouldn’t be speeding anyways…
Now the next steps here are quite a leap, but they have all been instrumental in (my) pulling 50MPG tank averages.
The next items listed are all related to reducing your Cd, or drag coefficient. Basically how easy it is for your car to glide, which you’ll find is very important. You can also alter your Cd by redirecting air, which you’ll see in the lower and upper air dams, below.
3. Windshield Wiper Delete My Cost: FREE, duh
I keep a wrench in my car which allows me to easily remove and attach my windshield wipers, the thought behind this aerodynamics. The less stuff air is allowed to get stuck on, the better. More on this later…
4. Remove your mud flaps. My Cost: FREE
Plain and simple you don’t need them. I removed my fronts as well as my rears. I replaced the rears with a piece of plastic which does not extend below the bumper, basically I wanted the air to be restricted as little as possible but not get caught up in my rear end.
5. SPATS My Cost: FREE
Spats, what the hell are those. Well you probably know what they are or at least have seen them. Spats or fairings, are small pieces of metal or more commonly plastic, that direct air away from something that has to be there. In this case tires, yea you need those. I placed spats in front of my rear, my “edging” lip should help with the front, tires.
6. Lower “edging” lip My Cost: $10
This is quite cheap and pretty easy. Go to your local hardware store and pickup some gardening edging, 3″ or so will do. I picked 20′ for $10. Cut closely to the size of your bumper, attach it, then trim.
The purpose of this modification is to reduce the amount of air that goes below your vehicle, as the underside of your car is the “dirtiest” part of your car, it restricts air flow and well, it is probably quite dirty. NOTE: If you have a partial of full blocked body pan, skip this step, I am finding these more and more on newer vehicles, 2010+.
7. Really! Lighten the load My Cost: FREE
I know I spoke on this earlier, but not only did I empty my trunk. I also removed my front seat, most of the back seat, and audio system (I miss it). Also I replaced my spare with a bottle of fix a flat!
8. Block those dams
I blocked my upper air dam as well as about 60% of my lower dam. This eliminates unneeded air from entering your engine bay, where it has no where to go! Do this with care, A. Do not block off in front of your radiator, if you do, your engine will get hot then the fan will kick on, ultimately pulling more energy from your engine, hurting your FE; and B. Do not block in front of your AC, if you plan to use your AC, it will become very inefficient. (You shouldn’t be using your AC anyway!)
9. Mirror DELETE My Cost: $50 (Camera and LCD)
Yes really. I have removed both outside mirrors, and yes it’s legal! Apparently in my state you are only required to have one mirror that sees 200′ back. I had planned on replacing one or both of these with a camera and LCD screen setup. But alas I have yet to find time, and I am already use to not having them.
10. Purchase a MPG monitoring system My Cost: $120
Picking up a system that monitors your fuel consumption will really help you to tweak your driving habits. I myself have a ScanGuage II, and I love. The reason this item is so low on the list is simple, it costs over $100, so you may want to be sure you can recoup that in a reasonable amount of time, me, it only took a month, of course that was when gas was around $4.25/ gallon 🙂
11. Tint that sh!t!
Tint your windows, as dark as legally possible. OK, again, this may seem easy but if you do it yourself it will be cheap (get the pre-cut kind), but it is a pain in the butt! How does this help?? Well if you are not using your AC, like me, having your car, seat, steering wheel and anything that gets hot a bit cooler, can make the start of your drive, that much more comfortable. And I have had some quite uncomfortable drives! Try 98° and no clouds, yea it was a little warm.
My next major project, which will probably be the hardest but yield the most gain, is the full body pan. I’ll talk about that topic more in a future post.
I’ll be posting some more images once I get around to adding my image gallery 🙂