Is Your New Tundra Getting The EPA Rated Gas Mileage?

We recently received an email from a new Tundra owner who wasn’t getting the mileage stated on the sticker. Basically, this person said that “I drive mostly on the highway, but I’m not getting the 18 mpg listed on the sticker. Instead, I’m getting about 15.5 mpg.”

We haven’t heard back from this person yet, but we sent them an email with the following ideas. We figured it might be useful to someone else so we copied it here…

1) Calculate the mileage manually — sometimes the automatic system is inaccurate. We’ve found that minutes spent idling at the dealership (before you owned it) will throw the computer-calculated mileage off substantially, especially for the first few tanks of gas.

2) New engines need at least 1k miles to break-in properly, but it may take as much as 5k miles before you get the best mileage.

3) Have you added any aftermarket wheels or tires, or maybe a camper or other high profile item to your truck? Any of these things could be hurting your mileage. Surprisingly, even a set of tires can drop 1 or 2 mpg if they have aggressive tread.

4) The engine control module (ECM) adapts to the driver’s style to provide the best performance and fuel economy. If you have another driver in the family, their style could be drastically different. Even if this other driver isn’t “hot rodding” the truck, the drastic difference can trick the ECM to switch into “programming” mode every time you switch drivers. I can’t imagine this would result in such a big difference between EPA and actual, but it is possible.

5) How much of your driving is on the highway? Even if you drive 90% of the time on the highway, the other 10% of the time you drive in the city can lower your overall mileage as much as 1 mpg.

6) Finally, if none of the above seem plausible, your truck may be one of a few Tundras that simply doesn’t achieve the stated mileage. Just like some trucks do better than the sticker, some trucks do worse. Your dealer can try to fix this be re-flashing the ECM, or maybe updating the truck’s software. Either of these will fix the problem.

Adding a Sunroof To Your New Car

You’re at the car lot and you’ve found a car that’s almost perfect. It’s just missing one option – the sunroof. The salesman, ever so helpful, explains that he actually add a sunroof to the car you’re looking at. At this point, you may begin to wonder if this is some BS sales tactic and start reaching for your car keys. But don’t move so fast – a sunroof can be added to your car or truck even if it wasn’t installed at the factory.

After market sunroof from Webasto

After market sunroof from Webasto

First of all, it’s important to understand exactly what happens when an after-market sunroof is installed: Read more…

Toyota Tundra Tips: Premium Gas vs. Regular

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!!

The Best 2007 Toyota Tundra Videos

When cruising thru the Tundra forum last week, we found a Tundra video list posted by vanlong that was AWESOME.

Every video we’ve ever liked is their, plus a few we’ve never seen.

Here are some of our favorites (in no particular order):

Tundra v. Ram Tug of War – strap a Toyota to a Hemi Ram and see which won wins.

Racing TRD Tundras – a little long, but it’s cool.

0 to 60 then back to 0, then giggling.

Our Toytec Lift Kit Install Video — shameless self-promotion.

Getting a little muddy in S.C. (no rednecks were harmed in the making of this video)

Cool looking launch in the sand.

Thanks to forum member vanlong for posting — you’re the best! We didn’t include any commercials — see his post here for those and some reviews as well.

The Tonneau Cover Fuel Economy MYTH

If you’ve considered buying a tonneau cover for your truck then you’ve probably heard someone tell you that it will improve your gas mileage. They say that because tonneau covers streamline your truck’s bed, they reduce drag improve fuel economy. Too bad it’s a GROSS EXAGGERATION.

Studies have shown that tonneau covers reduce aerodynamic drag. SEMA (the society for aftermarket equipment manufacturers) conducted a study in January 07′ that found tonneau covers reduce aerodynamic drag 4.2-7.8%, depending upon speed. This is the most recent study touted by SEMA, replacing one conducted on a 97′ Dodge Ram nearly 10 years earlier. Interestingly enough, SEMA steers clear of telling us how much fuel savings a “4.2-7.8%” reduction in drag would be. Instead, they say quote: “other tests would need to be conducted in order for fuel economy to be calculated, but it is safe to say that a reduction in drag would improve fuel efficiency for these pickups.”

OUR BS METER WENT OFF when we read that last line. Is SEMA actually saying that they spent the money to test aerodynamic drag on four different trucks, but that they didn’t spend just a little bit more to find out about actual real-world fuel economy savings? Something doesn’t smell right…

Here’s our interpretation of the study:

1) The largest reduction in aerodynamic drag (7.8%) was observed at 85mph. If we’re generous, we could assume that 75% of the engine’s power is being used to overcome the force of drag at this speed (the other 25% goes to tire friction, heat loss, etc.). If drag is reduced by 8%, that would result in a 6% reduction in engine workload. If the truck averages 18 mpg at this speed, then reducing engine workload 6% would improve fuel economy 1.08 mpg. SO, at 85 mph, expect to see about a 1 mpg improvement with a tonneau cover.

2) At a more realistic highway speed of 65 mph, drag is reduced about 5.5%. Using the same math as above but assuming that only half of the engine’s power is being used to overcome drag at this lower speed, fuel economy is improved by 0.5 mpg.

3) At 55mph or below, the fuel economy benefit basically disappears. Aerodynamic drag isn’t significant until you reach speeds of about 55-60 mph. Technically there would be a fuel savings, but it would be small. Less than a tenth of a mpg.

4) Finally, there were 6 different tonneau covers tested. SEMA didn’t disclose which was which, but we’re fairly certain that a fitted, over the rail solid fiberglass tonneau cover gives the best fuel economy results. The cloth/vinyl covers buffet in the wind, and anything that doesn’t go over the rail creates it’s own vortex. Painted to match, these covers cost $700 to $1100 installed.

Now before anyone goes off on us for making assumptions, etc., we did speak with a couple of engineers when writing this article. They emphasized these are rough numbers, and that they could be off by as much as 25%. That means that the best case fuel economy improvement is 1.35 mpg at 85 mph, and 0.63 mpg at 65 mph.

Assuming gas is $3.50 per gallon, here’s how the best case math works out:

Driving your tonneau cover equipped truck at 65mph for 20 minutes per day would save you 0.04 gallons of gas, or about $0.14 per day. Under these circumstances, we figure it will take about 30 years of workday commuting to save enough to earn back the cost of a $1000 tonneau cover.

Drive your tonneau cover equipped truck at 85mph for 60 minutes a day and you’ll save 0.33 gallons of gas, or about $1.16 per day. We figure that’s only 3 years and 7 months of workday commuting to earn back a $1000 tonneau cover. Of course, during that same period, you’ll spend over $13k on fuel. We feel sorry for anyone that has to drive their truck 85mph for 60 minutes a day — the fuel costs for just three years would be enough to buy a nice toy (ATV, boat, motorcycle, etc.).

Bottomline: Tonneau covers DO save gas, but not very much. While the aerodynamic drag numbers sound impressive (4-8% reduction), they don’t actually result in enough gas savings to justify the expense for a normal user. If you buy a tonneau, do it because it keeps your bed dry and secure.