The 4×4 Enthusiast’s Guide to Better Gas Mileage

Everyone has their own ideas on how to save on gas these days. But then for off road enthusiasts, saving gas is an entirely different animal due to the nature of our vehicles.

With this in mind, 4 Wheel Parts would like to present our take on saving gas, only tailored towards 4×4 and off road enthusiasts.

Quick Links: Engine Tires/Suspension General Maintenance Exterior-Related

General Tech Overview

Truck, Jeep and SUV owners need to adopt a certain mindset. Our vehicles aren’t some bubble-shaped hybrid (thankfully), and so it’s unrealistic to expect to match these cars in fuel efficiency.

Also, there is no magical way of boosting gas mileage by exorbitant numbers, and even if there were, it would likely require huge modifications so expensive that the savings wouldn’t be worth it.

Instead, we like to approach saving gas with the perspective of improving efficiency and making the most out of what is available.

Engine-Related Gas Saving Tips


When modifying your engine for gas mileage improvements, the idea is to optimize the horsepower output to reduce how hard your engine has to work.

Especially when it comes to modified rigs, items such as larger tires or a suspension lift can pile added burden onto your engine that forces your engine to work harder.

In order to counteract this, certain engine enhancements can improve overall engine efficiency and have your engine putting forth less effort than it needs to.

Power vs. Efficiency

It sounds a bit confusing to say that parts like a custom exhaustcomputer chip, or air intake systemthat are built to add speed and power can actually improve gas mileage.

Consider the following examples:

·         Case 1:

A truck with large off road tires and a suspension lift is driving 60 mph on the highway. No engine modifications have been made.

·         Case 2:

The same truck is driving 60 mph on the highway, but sports a custom intake, exhaust, and a computer module.

Naturally, Case 2 will get better gas mileage since it expends less effort to reach and maintain a speed of 60 mph given the upgraded tires and lift kits.

Engine-Related Products to Consider:


·         Custom Air Filters:

A dirty air filter can result in as much as a 10% loss in gas mileage. Replacing a dirty air filter is a simple task that can be done at home. Also, custom air filters are affordable options that don’t need replacing, and only require regular cleanings.

·         Air Intake Kits:

For lifted and modified rigs, the boost in performance from a custom intake system is a near-necessity. A custom intake keeps your engine running smooth for better MPG and performance.

·         Exhausts and Headers:

Custom exhausts and headers maximize the outward exhaust flow of your engine, thereby allowing it to run smoother, cleaner, and more efficiently all-around.

·         Computer Module:

A computer module tweaks a vehicle’s onboard computer, adding an average of 50 horsepower, and increasing fuel economy up to 10 percent, all at the push of a button from handheld controllers.

·         Computer Programmers:

Computer programmers connect to a vehicle’s diagnostic port and reprogram computer parameters for optimal efficiency, providing better horsepower, gas mileage, and even towing power.

Tire and Suspension-Related Gas Saving Tips


Tires and suspension-related components have more of an indirect impact upon fuel economy. While there is very little you can modify to increase gas mileage, there’s a lot that can hurt it.

Being smart in lift kit upgrades and tire choices can save you gas mileage without much performance loss. Consider these factors to ensure you aren’t losing precious MPG:

Choosing the Right Tires

All Terrain versus Mud Terrain tires; the decision can play a prominent role in fuel economy.

All terrain tires are all-purpose tires for street driving plus strong handling in moderate off-road conditions. For casual off-roaders, all terrains offer better gas mileage, and more tread life.

Mud terrain tires are for hardcore off-road enthusiasts. More aggressive tread increases rolling resistance to put more of the tire on the ground, which may be great off-road, but can also hurt gas mileage numbers.

If you’re the weekend off road type, then a set of middle-ground all terrains can suit your needs just fine, while more aggressive mud terrain tires aren’t meant to even touch the pavement.

Know the Right Way to Customize

As if choosing the right lift kits and tires weren’t complicated enough, altering these components potentially impacts a number of other factors that require tweaking and fine-tuning.

suspension lift alone can affect drive shaft length, steering geometry, brake lines, gear ratios, and overall weight, among other things. Pay attention to upgrades that go lift kits and better gas mileage will take care of itself.

Tire and Suspension-Related Products to Consider


·         Ring and Pinion Gears:

Adding oversize tires without adjusting the gear ratio gives your vehicle a proven reduction in gas mileage. New ring and pinion gears can re-gear your vehicle to its proper, factory specifications.

·         Leveling Kits:

Vehicles that ride with an uneven stance can put added strain on the engine and unevenly wear the tires. Install a leveling kit for an even vehicle with optimal engine function and gas mileage.

·         Hub Conversions:

Hub conversion kits expand traction capabilities according to terrain while also helping you save gas by sparing your axles from extended use when they are not needed.

General Maintenance-Related Gas Saving Tips


A vehicle’s engine has countless parts functioning together to keep your car running, and a number of them influence fuel economy.

The fuel pump, thermostat, oxygen sensor, fuel injection system, onboard computer, and many other devices all can have an impact on gas mileage.

Regular, scheduled maintenance on your engine ensures optimum performance and gas mileage, and also prevents the need for costly repairs down the road.

Here are some other factors to keep in mind to enhance your fuel economy:

Use Synthetic or Synthetic Blend Motor Oil

Synthetic motor oil provides much better viscosity performance and is better for your engine in general, particularly in high temperatures and from cold starts.

Use the Right Kind of Gas

Manufacturer suggested fuel grade provides the best gas mileage at the most practical cost. Using higher grade fuel may improve mileage slightly, but this increase is nominal compared to the extra money paid.

A/C in Moderation

An A/C system uses a compressor that is powered by an engine’s drive belt; thus, the more air you use, the harder the compressor and engine have to work.

A/C versus Open Windows

Driving with open windows at high speeds can actually reduce gas mileage more than low setting A/C with the windows up due to the added wind resistance. For speeds 50 mph and below, open windows are fine, but above 50 mph, air-conditioning may be a better choice.

Tire Inflation

Under inflated tires creates a drag that reduces fuel economy and is potentially damaging to wheel alignment. Properly inflated tires are safer and will also last longer.

Check Tire Alignment and Balancing

A vehicle that isn’t running straight requires additional force for propulsion. Make sure that your steering wheel is properly centered when driving straight, and rotate your tires regularly.

Maintenance Related Products to Consider:


·         Nitrogen Tire Service:

Many shops these days offer nitrogen tire service. Nitrogen gas is a completely safe alternative that reduces leakage and seepage from your tires, thereby improving fuel economy and tire life.

·         Fuel Catalysts:

fuel catalyst is a device that adds a permanent fuel treatment to your gas tank. Drivers can save at the pump immediately by using lower grade fuel that operates at premium grade levels.

·         Fluids:

Synthetic oils offer smoother performance and more mileage. Additionally, engine or fuel additives clean out fuel components, which can improve fuel efficiency and keep your engine running clean.

Vehicle Exterior-Related Gas Saving Tips

Remove Excess Weight

Not all fuel economy issues stem from what goes on inside your vehicle. By paying close attention to the exterior parts of your vehicle, you may be surprised just how simple it can be to save gas.

Remove Excess Weight

Take off your winch if you don’t plan on using it. Clean out your trunk or truck bed. The heavier your vehicle is, the more fuel it has to expend to propel you. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Manage Aerodynamics

Foreign objects like roof racks on the exterior of your vehicle can cause additional wind resistance and drag, especially at high speeds.

This is particularly crucial for trucks with open beds, where air travels into the bed and drags against the tailgate. Install a bed cover to maximize aerodynamics. The same goes for open-top Jeeps. Add a hard top or soft top (less weight) for reduced drag at high speeds.

Vehicle Exterior-Related Products to Consider:

·         Tonneau Covers:

A truck bed cover can do wonders for both gas mileage and performance by eliminating wind resistance against your tailgate, and also offer a number of convenient features and utilities.

·         Jeep Tops:

Jeep soft or hard tops provide an enclosure that will deflect wind more aerodynamically versus open top or bikini top Jeeps, giving you improved fuel economy and a more comfortable driving experience.