Here’s the deal: Toyota recommends 87 octane for the new Tundra. In most states, that’s the lowest octane available. Because the Tundra was designed for the lowest octane, you should only use the lowest octane available, regardless of the engine you have. If you live at high altitude, you can even use 85 octane with no problems.
But wait — what about better engine performance? Or better gas mileage? These claims (typically made by the gas companies) are bogus. While there may be some slight benefits to using high octane fuel, the extra cost doesn’t justify the extra expense. Don’t believe it? We found this article that explains exactly why Tundra owners shouldn’t buy premium.
However there is one benefit to premium that the Car Guys didn’t mention: Most high octane fuel contains detergents that will clean your fuel system. These detergents are similar to (but less concentrated than) a bottle of gas treatment that you would buy at the auto parts store. Fuel system treatments are good preventative maintenance — over time, impurities will deposit themselves at the natural “choke” points in your fuel system. Typically, that’s your injectors and your fuel pump. Eventually these deposits can foul an injector, reducing fuel economy and performance. In fact, if the injectors become too dirty they will require replacement. So cleaning your fuel system is a good idea.
But the problem with using premium gas to clean your truck’s fuel system is that price difference between a full tank of premium and a full tank of regular is more than enough to buy a bottle of fuel system cleaner and pour it in yourself. But that’s assuming you remember to do it. If you’re like a lot of people, buying fuel system cleaner isn’t on your list of priorities. If you’re the type that forgets to do these things, then buying premium gas once a year will keep the fuel system clean enough.
Bottomline: Because the Tundra was designed to run on plain old low octane gas, adding higher octane has little or no benefit. Unless you don’t want to mess with putting some fuel system cleaner in your truck every 20k miles or so, there’s no reason to fill your new Toyota Tundra with premium gas. Take that Exxon!!
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Yes — we know you bought a truck. You didn’t buy it to save gas. You bought it to do stuff. We get it.
But what if there was a way to do stuff with your truck and save gas? Interested? We thought so. Here are some tips.
1) Drive like your grandmother.
Your truck burns fuel at almost twice the normal rate during hard acceleration. If you’re racing from every stop light, you’re going to burn through fuel faster than green grass thru a goose. The ideal acceleration rate for maximum fuel economy is generally agreed upon to be about 2mph per second. At that rate, it would take you 30 seconds to reach 60mph. While we don’t really believe anyone can accelerate that slowly without getting shot at (or at least flipped off), if you don’t like your gas mileage try counting to 10 or 15 seconds as you accelerate. If you’re getting to your speed any faster than 10 seconds, you’re burning more fuel than you need to.
2) Avoid high speeds.
Believe it or not, aerodynamic drag, or wind resistance, isn’t significant until you’re traveling at 40-45mph. Then, as your speed increases, aerodynamic drag starts to build up rapidly. By the time you hit 100mph, your engine is working almost entirely just to overcome aerodynamic drag. In other words, less drag at low speeds means better fuel economy — that’s why your truck gets the best fuel economy at about 55mph. If you have to go faster, realize it’s hurting your efficiency.
3) Check your tires.
Other than wind resistance, the only other major friction you must fight is your Tundra’s tires. While the best fuel economy can be had using a highway tire with a car-like tread, you can actually get good results with a more aggressive off-road truck tire as long as the tire pressure is correct. Your owner’s manual will tell you what it should be for your specific vehicle, but it’s safe to say that 32-35 psi is a good safe pressure for just about any vehicle on the road. If it drops below 30psi, you’ll see your fuel economy take a hit. Also, don’t inflate your tires to the suggested pressure printed on the sidewall — that number is usually WAY too high.
4) Don’t drop your tailgate.
Here’s another believe it or not — dropping or removing your trucks tailgate *hurts* your fuel economy. The Canadian government sponsored a study — you can read it for yourself or just believe us when we tell you to leave your tailgate in the “locked, upright position”.
5) Stay up on normal maintenance.
Not that you shouldn’t be doing this anyways, but having a clean air cleaner, oil that’s been changed within the last 5,000 miles, and making sure your check engine light is off are all great ways to save fuel. Nuff said.
6) Look for excess weight you can remove.
Are you still hauling around tires or sandbags from last winter? What about all the “stuff” that’s in the back seat or pickup bed? None of it may seem significant, but a few items can quickly add up. Eliminating an extra 100 pounds of “junk” in your car can improve your fuel economy 1-2%. Not a lot, but every bit counts. Finally, consider telling your spouse to loose weight to help with fuel economy.
7) Make fewer trips that are longer in length.
Your engine doesn’t reach peak efficiency until it’s had enough time to warm up — typically about 15 minutes. If you can take all your short errands and string them together to form one super-errand, your engine will operate more efficiently during the majority of your trip.
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If you’ve ever worked at an auto-repair shop, you know that the guy that fixes transmissions is always busy. He’s got more work than just about anyone in the shop, with maybe the lube tech (the guy that changes oil) being the only exception. To us, this is a mystery. If you use common sense, follow your manufacturer’s suggested maintenance, and avoid scenarios that cause damage, your transmission should last as long as any part on your truck. But, like we said, the transmission guy is always busy…here’s why: